There I was, looking at the last three rolls of 35mm I have to develop. One roll each of Fomapan 100, Kodak Tri-X and Kodak TMAX 400.
After thinking for a while I selected the Fomapan. I don’t know quite why. “Hmmm”, I said to myself, “I wonder what is on this roll?”.
Quite quickly I decided to experiment. This is another thing I love about film. Over the years I often have used a stand development method where you use a very dilute developer agitate for 30 or 60 seconds and then leave to stand for an hour or two. I use to have very good results but in recent years someting has changed with my water and the method doesn’t now work as satisfactorily. The negatives are very spotty and stained. Initially I thought it was my drying process. To overcome this I tried all sorts of drying methods, different angles, differing dilutions and timing of wetting agent. All to no avail.
To overcome these problems I now experience with stand development I decided to try semi-stand development. This being the use of dilute Rodinal at 1:100, agitate for the first 30 seconds and then two inversions every ten minutes for forty minutes. This was followed by a water stop bath, acid fix, ten minute water wash followed by a two minute distilled water wash. This cured the problems as already outlined but the negatives were very dense.
It is always a thrill to pull the negatives from the tank and when you look at them for the first time instant recall occurs. October 2014 using the Leica M2 and Sunny 16. You look at the negatives afresh and, as a result, evaluate them better. I think with film you are acutely aware of the limited resource in your camera, are much more engaged with your subject, are more cognizant and the memory much more atuned and involved. I find that the memory recall at seeing developed negatives for the first time is a stronger sensation than doing the parallel with digital files.
When dry, cut and sleeved, it was scaning time. Now, at the moment I am using a Nikon Coolscan V and Silverfast scanning software. After scanning a strip is was obvious that Silverfast could not cope with the density of the negatives. I even scanned in HDRi mode to see if this would improve the situation. Nope! Luckly I am also a long time user of Vuescan and using Vuescan I had some very decent scans.
Notwithstanding the poor subject, the dense negatives, the staining and marks on recently developed negatives leads me, as aforementioned, to the conclusion my water is very dirty, full of goodness know what! I suppose it is how my water is filtered and treated at source that is the problem. These Fomapan negatives were very clean. It was the final bath in distilled water that was responsible, as it is a new addition to my development process.
The next roll of film is going to be the Tri-X. I will modify the semi-stand development to using Rodinal 1:100, 30 seconds initial agitation followed by two inversion every ten minutes for twenty minutes. Water stop, Water wait bath for twenty minutes, fix, wash for ten minutes, distilled water final wash with wetting agent. This should provide a less dense negative. I find both Vuescan and Silverfast provide a better scan when the negative is thin. Less development means less grain and less loss in the highlights.
You may notice that the grass in the Piercefield Manor photos looks almost white and gives an almost infra-red result. This is due to the density of the negatives lifting the zones. The negatives are also very sharp. Fomapan 100 is made by Foma in the Czech Republic, is a traditional film giving a more classic look. It probably hasn’t changed for decades. I like it! The density of the negatives increases the grain, but I like this film.