Stand Development With Rodinal | A Guide Based On My Own Experience

There’s loads of information out there on stand development with Rodinal. But rather than just regurgitate what everyone else has written, I wanted to concentrate on my own personal experience. So whilst this is no way a detailed guide, it does have the benefit of being my first-hand experience.

Ella in the garden / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

stand development with rodinal - girl with hat

West Norwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

What is Stand Development?

Stand development is the process where the film is left in a very dilute developing solution for an extended period of time, with little or no agitation. The theory is that the developer exhausts itself in areas which require greater development while remaining active in less-exposed areas. In other words, the highlights don’t burn out whilst the shadows develop a bit more detail. Not all developers are suitable for this, but I’ve been using this method successfully with Rodinal for many years.

Exmoor ponies in the rain on Hindhead Common / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Kodak Tri-X / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Exmoor  ponies on Hindhead Common - Stand development with Rodinal

What’s The Process?

It’s simple, really. Bear in mind this is all about what I do and what consistently works for me. Other opinions are available.

  • You mix up a solution of Rodinal and water in the proportion 1+99. So to create a working solution of 500ml, that’s 5ml of developer and 495ml of water.
  • Temperature – some people say that the temperature of the solution is irrelevant. But because I strive for consistency and predictability, I always go for 20℃.
  • Pour the solution into the film tank, and agitate well for 30 seconds. I then give the tank several good whacks with a wooden spoon on the top and sides, to ensure any air bubbles are dispelled.
  • You can then leave everything to develop for 60 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, I give the tank one very gentle turn upside down and back (don’t forget to whack afterward), before leaving for the remaining 30 minutes. Technically, this is called semi-stand development. I’ve tried leaving for the whole 60 minutes, and I’ve noticed you can get some strange ‘halo’ effects on the edges of subjects. Apparently some people like this, but it’s not for me, hence the gentle turn mid-way
  • After the 60 minutes are up you pour out the developer. I never bother with a stop bath because the dilution of the developer is so low, and in any case it’s exhausted by this stage. Just give the tank a good rinse out under the tap.
  • Fix and rinse in the normal way.
  • Whilst you’re waiting for the negatives to dry, kick back and listen to some fantastic music.

William / Yashica Mat with Rolleinar No. 2 Close-up lens / Kodak Tri-X / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

When To Use Stand Development

When the forums on Flickr where a lot more active than they are now, I used to marvel at the things people did with their films. It’d start off with someone saying “Yeah I always shoot at 80% of box speed and then underexpose by 1/3 of a stop” and then escalate to “Well I drop my film in a bucket of peanut butter and then develop in a homemade concoction made from Irn Bru and lard. It seemed to become a bit of a dick-swinging exercise in the end. (And yes, it did mainly seem to be men).

I don’t mind the odd bit of experimentation here and there, but the pictures I’ve shot are important to me. What I’m really looking for is consistency and the ability to be able to predict my results. So when I find something that works, I tend to stick with it.

What I’ve found is that stand development works best for me with medium format films. I don’t know why this is, but I don’t get the same results with 35mm. It can be done with 35mm, and indeed I’ve had some success with HC-110 instead of Rodinal. But to me, the look is inferior to developing in the normal way.

Similarly, through a process of trial and error, I’ve found I get the best results with traditional grain, rather than T-grain (i.e. Tmax and Delta) films. So FP4, Tri-X, and Fomapan (and therefore Kosmo) in 120 I always stand develop. Those have now become my go-to medium format films.

Snow Hill, Windsor Great Park/ Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

snow hill windsor great park - stand devlopment with rodinal

What Are The Advantages of Stand Development With Rodinal?

  • Longevity – Rodinal lasts for years. Quite literally. Even though it may change colour and consistency, it never seems to lose its efficacy. I’ve previously had a bottle for over 5 years with no problems. There are even reports out there of people successfully using bottles that have been kicking around for decades.
  • Economy – Currently a 500ml bottle of Rodinal is £13.98 at AG Photographic. If you were developing in the conventional way, you’d dilute Rodinal at a ratio of 1+24 or 1+49. For stand development I use 1+99. To develop a roll of 120 film you need 500ml of liquid, so that works out at 5ml of Rodinal and 495ml of water. That’s 100 rolls of film per 500ml bottle, working out at about 14p each. Pretty cool, right?

Queen tribute band, Windsor Races/ Yashica Mat/ Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Queen Tribute Band - Stand development with rodinal

  • Grain / Tonality – Rodinal is renowned for its distinctively high level of grain. Many people love this, but I find using this method the grain is more restrained, which I prefer. I also love the tonality I get from this method. But that’s very much a personal opinion.
  • Exposure – Old cameras don’t always have accurate shutters. I’ve found that stand development seems to compensate for small exposure errors.
  • ISO Agnostic – You can (and I often do) develop films of different ISOs in the same tank for the same amount of time.
  • It’s easy! Sure it takes longer, but you’re not hunched over the sink having to agitate every 60 seconds for ten minutes. Instead, just sit down and marvel at how much better life used to be in the ’70s when we were growing up. Or not.

Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

World Zombie Day, London 2014 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

stand developed with rodinal

Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Lonely diner, London / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Walton Bridge / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

stand developed with rodinal

West Norwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

stand development with rodinal

Brookwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Hampton Court / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Middle-aged ladies sunbathing, Margate / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

My Mum in her living room / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

stand development with rodinal

London/ Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Stools in the office / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Kurdish protester, Trafalgar Square / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

kurdish protester

James, Windsor / Yashica Mat / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Quick fix by Big Ben / Yashica Mat 124G / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Scooter enthusiasts, Hampton Court / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes

Hey! Too much time on your hands? Why not check out my other guides:

Sphinx Aren’t What They Used To Be

A couple of unusual things happened this weekend. Firstly, the weather forecasters predicted two full days of complete sunshine and a temperature of 21C. In London. In early April. The second strange thing was that this absurd prediction actually came true. Normally during such a weekend I might typically have driven down to the coast, or maybe spent some time cycling in the park. But a few recent events have conspired to suck some of the energy and enthusiasm out of me. So instead I unfolded my handwritten list of Cemeteries I Haven’t Yet Visited, closed my eyes, and randomly prodded the paper.

West Norwood Cemetery is a 40 acre site in south east London, so for me that’s a 30 minute train ride up to central London, followed by a further 15 minutes out through the other side. It’s one of The Magnificent Seven, the group of private cemeteries that were established in the 19th century to deal with overcrowding at the various parish cemeteries. It’s not the first of the seven I’ve visited.

The cemetery had its first burials in 1837, and although all the plots are now taken, the crematorium is still active and you can have your ashes stashed in the columbarium. It holds London’s finest collection of sepulchral monuments, has 69 listed structures, and is on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It’s a peaceful place.

All of these were shot with an orange filter, most of them them with the wonderful (but hefty) Mamiya Sekor C F/2.8 45mm lens (35mm equivlant=28mm). I semi-stand developed them (one gentle inversion at the half-way mark) in a 1+99 dilution of Rodinal for 60 minutes. I find this gives a really nice level of bite without being too grainy. On these sunny, cloudless days I don’t bother with the onboard meter. I just use sunny 16, allow an extra stop of light to compensate for the filter, and then it’s just 1/125 & F/11 or permutations thereof all the way.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro TL
Film: Ilford FP4
Process: Developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 minutes

The Crematorium; still in use today

After a hour or so of wandering round, I found a shady spot to eat the sandwich I had brought with me, and was thinking about catching the train home. That’s when it occurred to me that a couple of stops and about ten minutes further down the line was Crystal Palace Park.

I’d forgotten how nice Crystal Palace Station is, and at the risk of being mistaken for a train geek, I took a quick snap. To be honest, when you spend a sunny Saturday hanging round a cemetery, people thinking you’re a train spotter is the least of your worries.

Wikipedia describes Crystal Palace Park as a Victorian pleasure park, which I think is a lovely turn of phrase. The district of Crystal Palace takes its name from the building –The Crystal Palace – in which the Great Exhibition of 1851 was held. Yet the exhibition wasn’t held in Crystal Palace; it was held in Hyde Park in central London. Confused? Don’t be.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (phew) was conceived as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. It was an attempt to show the rest of the world how Britain was a clear leader in industry, and in the process stick two fingers up to the French after their highly successful Industrial Exposition of 1844. Plus ça change. After the exhibition, between 1852 and 1855, the park was created as a home for the relocated and rebuilt Crystal Palace, but tragically the building was destroyed by fire in 1936, leaving just the few remnants you can see from the photos.

That’s the Crystal Palace TV Transmitter in the background. 719 feet and the fifth tallest structure in London.

There’s plenty to see and do in the park. The boating lake. A maze. The famous Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – a series of extinct (and often inaccurate) animal sculptures that date from 1852. But it was the sphinxes that really drew me here on this day. It was about twelve years ago now, on my only previous visit to the park, that I sat beneath them holding the hand of a pretty red-headed girl with a kind heart. I’ve no idea what’s happened in her life since then, but a few years back I was surprised to be told she now lives just a couple of miles away from me. I keep that little bit of information wrapped up and tucked away at the back of my mind, but occasionally I take it out, just to see how it feels.

There are six sphinxes in all , and they’ve been there ever since the site was moved from central London in the 1850s. What surprised me however, is that they are now in much better condition than when I last saw them. And as you clearly can’t see from the photo, they’ve been painted terracotta. I’ve since found out they were restored last year, and analysis has shown that they were regularly painted up until about 1900, after which they gradually started to fall in to disrepair.

This dude was happy to ham it up for the camera.

And in the middle of the park, at the sports centre, they were playing beach volleyball. I took the photo just so I can tell people that I did indeed have a lovely day at the seaside, and no, I didn’t waste a glorious weekend wallowing in nostalgia and gravestones..

Square Up To Racism

These days:

My eyes aren’t good enough to set the controls without glasses, my brain isn’t sharp enough to promptly work out the exposure, and my fingers aren’t nimble enough to focus on a moving target.

But I don’t take the Mat out often enough and I’m very fond of the square format.

So if everyone could just hold it right there for a few more moments please…….and……..got it. Thanks.

Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017
Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X / Developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 minutes B