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5 frames with the Pentax Spotmatic and developed as Stand development – By Nick Ambrose

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One of my more recent projects in the darkroom has been to explore further options on how to process my black and white film. I would in the past just follow the normal method of a 30 second agitation and then 4 inversions of the developing tank every minute. This over the normal timing of somewhere between 8 to 16 seconds depending on film and ISO rating.

The dilution of the developer would be 1+1 of 1+3 for something like Ilford ID11. For Fomadon R09 or Rodinal it would be the normal 1+25 or 1+50 dilution. Temperature would be 20° Centigrade.

I have though seen mention of what is called ‘Stand Development’ which is using a very dilute developer and just leaving the film tank standing for a very long time, usually about an hour without agitation. I have in the past been put off by problems others encounter using this method such as bromide drag which leaves streaks on the negatives. It’s always seemed to me to make sense to create the situation where the exposed film emulsion gets influenced by active developer equally across the surface.

However, I thought it might be time to attempt this method on a roll of film exposed for this purpose and wouldn’t be missed if it all went wrong. I have been reading the books ‘The Art of Black and White Developing’ by John Finch and ‘Ilford Monochrome Darkroom Practice’ by Jack H Coote. I was keen to see if I could increase the acutance of the negatives by inducing something called the adjacency effect. This is where bromide, a by product of the action, collects at boundaries of high to low density.

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This bromide inhibits local development along the line of these boundaries and creates what is known as a Mackie line which increases perceived sharpness along these lines. The one problem of this release of bromide is that it can also cause streaking on the negatives caused by the bromide falling to the bottom of the tank when it is left standing without agitation.

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So, having thought I would give stand development a try I read in the ‘Art of Black and White Developing’ that Rodinal type of film developers are good for this style of stand developing. It was recommended that the dilution was 1+200 and the development time be 2 hours so that is what I decided to use. I chose Fomadon R09 developer which is a similar type to Rodinal and the film I chose was Fomapan 200.

I stood the Paterson developing tank in a water bath at 20° centigrade so that the temperature wouldn’t drop too far during the 2 hour time. I shot the film at 100 ISO rating to ensure good detail capture in the shadow areas. The images were taken on some very dim and misty days in December with a Pentax Spotmatic 35mm SLR and Takumar 55mm f1.8 lens. The first series show the evening shots. I also took some on a very dull day on a walk along an old unused railway line.

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I was very pleased with the results and didn’t get any bromide drag streaks on the negatives. I will definitely try this method again.

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