Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stand Development

Having mentioned stand development in a number of my posts on this blog, I've decided that this technique warrants a post of its own. There is plenty of information on stand development available online, but I thought it worthwhile to give an account of my own experience of using it. In summary, stand development is a method of developing a film using highly dilute developer, minimal agitation and long developing times. It's an old technique, first described in the 19th century, however I have only begun to use it recently.

Bear Lane, Southwark, Agfa Optima Sensor with FP4, stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour.
My first experiments using stand development was with Ilford FP4 in 35mm. For the very first roll I developed this way, having filled the tank and agitated for the initial minute, the idea of simply leaving it alone for an hour seemed counter-intuitive to the way I'd been developing films for years and required some blind faith that it would actually work. I used Rodinal, the developer I use regularly, but rather than the more usual dilutions of 1:25 or 1:50, the standard procedure for stand developing with Rodinal is to dilute it 1:100, and then let the film stand without agitation in the developer for 1 hour. This may not give the best results for all films, but it's certainly a very good starting point. The image above is from the first roll of film I developed using this technique, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the negatives came out.

Southwark, Agfa Optima Sensor with FP4, stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour
Stand development works by the highlight areas on the film developing to exhaustion: the developer here is most active, and so exhausts (regular agitation would normally prevent this from happening by keeping the developer moving in the tank); meanwhile in the shadow areas the developer continues to work to completion. This gives a long tonal scale to the image, and the lack of agitation also appears to benefit the appearance of grain. Additionally, using a highly-dilute developer increases perceived sharpness due to edge effects. The first results I got with stand development appeared to have these all these benefits.

 I subsequently used this technique for developing out of date and colour film (such as with found films) with success, but using it on medium format film showed up some limitations. In the image below, there was a notable increase in the density of the negative towards the bottom of all the frames on the film, with some unevenness too. This may be due to the fact that when I first began using stand development, I mixed the developer at 20ÂșC; over the course of an hour's development the developer must cool towards ambient temperature, and perhaps, with convection currents, warmer developer rises in the tank and develops here more quickly.

Mini Roundabout, Fomapan 400 (medium format), stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour
The two methods of avoiding uneven development are to use the developer at room temperature and to agitate during development (additionally, soaking the film in water before developing may also help). I now invert the tank a couple of times half an hour through the developing time, which technically makes it semi-stand development. There are more exacting semi-stand agitation regimes, which can mean inverting the tank every five or ten minutes. However, this does remove the joy of just leaving the film alone and getting on with something else while it's in the tank.

FP4, found in a bulk film loader, stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour
Having established a way of using stand development that seems to work with a good degree of consistency, there's a number of situations that I use it for. It's my first consideration for developing any unknown film, such as films found in secondhand cameras, or the film I found in a bulk film loader, with no indication of what was inside, or, as recently happened, I lost the tab on a roll of medium format film (it got caught inside the camera when I unloaded the film, torn from the backing paper the wind then carried it off the bridge I was standing on and into a river below; I could see from the backing paper it was an Ilford film, but I wasn't sure which; it turned out to be Delta 100). It also works very well with out-of-date film (and plates): the loss of sensitivity with age is compensated by increasing exposure, and I then stand develop. Lastly, there are films that I simply like the look of in stand development, in particular, Ilford FP4 (HP5 less so, but I do use stand development when push processing this with Rodinal).

Finally, as I referred to in my post about Kodak Technical Pan, when using Rodinal at high dilutions, there is a minimum amount of developer per film. Agfa recommended a minimum of 10ml Rodinal per film, no matter the dilution used. At 1:100 this would mean a litre of working solution. In practice smaller amounts of Rodinal work well enough (although I've had uneven development when using 5ml); I tend to use 8-9ml of developer to 800-900ml of water in a 3-reel Paterson tank, and when developing 35mm film, I place an empty spool at the bottom of the tank to raise the film being developed to its middle.

Sources/further reading:
An entry on stand development from Cyclopedia of Photography, Bernard E. Jones (1911)
An Introduction To Stand Development at Daniel Hewes Photography
Efke 25 stand development by Martin Zimelka

Edit 26/11/14

Since writing this post two years ago, I have also been using Ilfotec LC29 for stand development, as well as developing with its recommended dilutions and agitation regime. Although of different composition, Ilfotec LC29 is, like Rodinal/RO9 One Shot, a highly concentrated liquid film developer. Standard dilutions for Ilfotec LC29 are 1:9, 1:19, and 1:29; the first two dilutions can be used for a number of films in one developing session, while at 1:29 Ilford state that it should be treated as a one shot developer. For stand development with Ilfotec LC29, I have been using the same dilutions as with Rodinal: diluting it 1:100 for most films with a normal contrast curve, and developing for one hour; for higher contrast emulsions I have been using 1:120, 1:150 or 1:200 with the Kodak High Resolution Aerial Duplicating film. The results using Ilfotec LC29 for stand development are comparable with Rodinal and the negatives exhibit similar qualities.

Adox Silvermax 100, stand developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1:100
Rollei RPX 100, stand developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1:100
Ilford Special Lantern glass plate, stand developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1:120
Kodak High Resolution Aerial Duplicating film, stand developed
in Ilfotec LC29, 1:200

Ilford Ilfodata HS23 - continued

Graffiti, Ive Farm, Ilford Ilfodata HS23, shot at 25 EI, stand developed in Rodinal 1:150 for 1 hour
Following the exposure tests with the Ilfodata film in my last post, I also wanted to experiment with the dilution of the developer to see how this would affect contrast. With the first couple of rolls, I had stand developed the film in Rodinal diluted 1:100 for one hour. Taking a cue from the development of Tech Pan at 1:150, I shot another roll with the exposure index of 25, although this film I shot using my Kodak Retina IIa, and used the 'sunny 16 rule' as a guide for exposure, bracketing the shots, such as the one below where the two frames overlap.

Ive Farm Lane, Ilford Ilfodata HS23, shot at 25 EI, stand developed in Rodinal 1:150 for 1 hour
There's a stop difference between the two shots that overlapped on the film, I'm not sure which one is 'at' 25 EI, but both exposures provide a usable negative, although the shadow areas in the left hand image are beginning to lack detail. I developed this roll of film at a dilution of 1:150, and, although I did not shoot the same subjects with the same lighting conditions as the second test roll for an accurate comparison, this increased dilution may have reduced the contrast: certainly it is low enough to use for pictorial purposes.

Hackney Substation, Ilford Ilfodata HS23, shot at 25 EI, stand developed in Rodinal 1:200 for 1 hour.
I then shot another roll, with the same camera and the same exposure index, and developed this with a dilution of 1:200. In practical terms, this meant reducing the amount of developer to 5ml, and making this up with water to a litre (as opposed to 6ml to 900ml for a dilution of 1:150). The results at 1:200 showed up the limitations of further increasing the dilution. The development was visibly uneven in any large dense areas of the negatives, which meant the sky. In the shot of Hackney Substation above the cloudy sky obscures this, but in the picture of the flood relief channel below, the clear sky shows it well enough. Examining the end of the film exposed to the light when loading the camera proved uneven development to be the case: on any normally developed film, this will usually be a featureless black, but on this film there are lighter patches and streaks. This may be due to simply not having enough developer present, and it's certainly compounded by a lack of agitation while developing. A solution to this problem would be to increase agitation during development.

Lea Flood Relief Channel, Ilford Ilfodata HS23, shot at 25 EI, stand developed in Rodinal 1:200 for 1 hour.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ilford Ilfodata HS23

Ilford Ilfodata HS23 Type J500 document film

This tin of bulk film was a speculative buy from a well known auction site, specifically because I'd never heard of the film before. The only reference to the film I've found online is Viewfinder from June 1979, Ilford's in house magazine; indeed typing "Ilford Ilfodata HS23 Type J500" into Google returns just that one result. The underside of the tin has a label with the code "SZ 79 C" - possibly meaning it was manufactured in Swizterland in 1979 by Ciba (who bought out Ilford in 1969) although the label on the front of the tin does state "Made in England". The film is referred to on page 4, in an article headed 'Ilford in Microrecording'. It's worth quoting at length:

The ever-expanding range of ILFORD microrecording films ensures that the right product exists for the majority of applications. Where business documents, continuous stationery, cheques, statements or invoices are to be microfilmed, one of the ILFODATA High Speed films is particularly recommended.
  • HS 22 2.5/1000 polyester base dye resin backing.
  • HS 23 5/1000 acetate base dye resin backing.
  • HS 24 5/1000 acetate base carbon resin backing.
These products offer the combination of fine grain, high speed, high resolving power and - because of their panchromatic sensitivity - are recommended for accurate recording of multicoloured originals.

The article then goes on to mention Ilfodata HR31 specifically having an anti-halation underlayer, so I assume that the other films do not, although they have the backing as described. After loading a length of film into a canister to use, the colour of the backing was quite noticeable, being a deep, intense, almost ultramarine blue.

Vine Leaves, Ilfodata HS23

I shot two rolls of the film using my Olympus OM10. For the first roll I didn't accurately meter the shots I took: on the film canister I did note "last grapes 1000th at f5.6", but I may have meant 'eucalyptus' as that was the last series of shots on the roll. I stand developed the film with Rodinal diluted 1:100. The results were mixed: many frames were barely legible; those that were are clearly high contrast as one would expect from a document film. The film itself has a very clear base, with no markings in the film rebates and in the frames I scanned the grain is as good as indiscernible. In the image below the bright sky appears to have a 'glowing' effect, which may be a result of the absence of an anti-halation layer.

Eucalyptus, Ilfodata HS23

I shot a second roll less impulsively, exposing five frames successively with the camera's film speed dial set at 25, 50, 100, 200, and 400 in an attempt to work out an ISO setting for the film. Using Rodinal diluted 1:100, I stand-developed the film for 1 hour. The results on the contact sheet shown below indicate clearly that an exposure index of either 25 or 50 gives a usable result: the highlight areas are becoming blocked on the top row of 25 EI; some shots in the second row of 50 EI show very little detail in the deeper shadows. The Viewfinder quote about the film describes it as 'high speed' which, like the Kodak Technical Pan film in my previous post (which can be used at 200 EI), may refer to its use as a document film; using the film for pictorial purposes would indicate a much lower EI setting. Possible directions for further tests might be to use a lower exposure index and to dilute the film developer even further to lower the contrast.

Second test roll contact sheet of Ilfodata HS23
Tomatoes, Ilfodata HS23, exposed at 25 EI
Tomatoes, Ilfodata HS23, exposed 50 EI
Climbing Beans/Tomatoes/Clematis, Ilfodata HS 23, exposed 25 EI
Climbing Beans/Tomatoes/Clematis, Ilfodata HS 23, exposed 50 EI

Viewfinder, June 1979 (PDF file)