Observation, meditations and interpretation through imagery and occasional words.
I shoot digital and analog, 35mm and medium format, usually black and white film which I develop myself.

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An Introduction to Stand Development with HC-110

In my earlier post about developing black and white film I briefly touched on stand development:


 An interesting alternative method is “stand development”, in which a highly diluted developer is used, with minimal agitation, and left untouched for the duration, typically an hour or so. You should be using this method because you want the look that comes with stand development, but it also has the useful attribute that once you’ve put the solution in the tank, you can go away for a fairly long time. This means that you can spend 10-15 minutes getting everything set up, then go away and have dinner or do something with your family, as long as you come back at more or less the right time (stand development is also relatively insensitive to small changes in developing time, just don’t move the tank).


 In normal film development, denser (highlight) areas will develop fastest and continuously as periodic agitation brings fresh developer in contact with the most exposed parts of the negative.

 The basic idea of stand development is to use a highly dilute developer and minimal agitation, to allow shadow development over a longer period of time, while highlight development is limited by exhausting the developer in the immediate vicinity of the denser region.

The visible effect on the negative is to reduce dynamic range in the highlights, expand dynamic range in the shadows, and reduce the overall negative contrast. Extreme highlights become less burned out, and fine detail emerges from shadow regions that would otherwise be too faint to see.  

 High dilution development can also produce an adjacency effect at the boundaries between high density area and low density areas, where unused developer near low density areas diffuses to the edge of the high density area and makes it even denser, which increases perceived sharpness. This can also lead to artifacts like “halos” around highlights and high contrast edges.

 If the developer solution is too strong, the highlights won’t exhaust the solution and the film will be overdeveloped.

 If the developer solution is too weak, there won’t be enough developing agent to fully develop the negative, and it will be underdeveloped.

 If there is too much physical movement of the solution during processing, the highlight regions will continue to get fresh developer instead of exhausting the local supply of developing agent, and will be overdeveloped.

 Stand development isn’t suitable for all developer and film combinations.  The classic developer for stand development is Rodinal. However, as described in my earlier post, in my minimalist processing setup, I use HC-110 for everything. Fortunately, HC-110 also gives good results in stand development processes with most black and white film and Tri-X in particular. HP5, TMax 400 and 100, and Fomapan 200 have also worked for me, but I seem to use stand development the most with Tri-X.  

 Some of my photos processed using stand development

 My basic stand development recipe is
4 ml solution in 640ml water, for 1:160 dilution, 45 minutes @ 20C, semi stand
30 seconds initial agitation (gentle inversions)
Tap tank on hard surface to avoid air bubbles. Leave tank untouched during development.
3 inversions at half way (around 20 minutes - this is the “semi” part)
Tap tank on hard surface to avoid air bubbles. Leave tank untouched during development.
End at 45 minutes.

The exact timing for stand development is far less critical than with normal dilutions. There are anecdotes of people who accidentally left film in a stand development solution overnight, and still ending up with dense, but useable negatives. Like all film developing processes, consistency and good note keeping will help improve your results, but once you have a workable high dilution recipe, it will tend to be extremely tolerant to modest changes.

 In my case, I have slowly been increasing dilutions and decreasing development time to limit highlight density to something that my scanner can cope with. It’s very easy to produce negatives that have great looking highlight detail when you look at them, but which still scan as completely burned out, because of the limited dynamic range in most scanners. This is not so much of a problem for darkroom printing, since you can just burn in the denser areas, but that doesn’t work on a scanner.

 There are a number of useful resources for comparing notes with people and learning about stand development.

 Recipes for stand development at Filmdev
 Flickr discussion posts on stand development

Stand development takes a lot longer than conventional processing, but it can produces some unique and useful results while requiring very little attention during a nearly foolproof process.

An Introduction to Stand Development with HC-110

In my earlier post about developing black and white film I briefly touched on stand development:

 An interesting alternative method is “stand development”, in which a highly diluted developer is used, with minimal agitation, and left untouched for the duration, typically an hour or so. You should be using this method because you want the look that comes with stand development, but it also has the useful attribute that once you’ve put the solution in the tank, you can go away for a fairly long time. This means that you can spend 10-15 minutes getting everything set up, then go away and have dinner or do something with your family, as long as you come back at more or less the right time (stand development is also relatively insensitive to small changes in developing time, just don’t move the tank).

 In normal film development, denser (highlight) areas will develop fastest and continuously as periodic agitation brings fresh developer in contact with the most exposed parts of the negative.

 The basic idea of stand development is to use a highly dilute developer and minimal agitation, to allow shadow development over a longer period of time, while highlight development is limited by exhausting the developer in the immediate vicinity of the denser region.

The visible effect on the negative is to reduce dynamic range in the highlights, expand dynamic range in the shadows, and reduce the overall negative contrast. Extreme highlights become less burned out, and fine detail emerges from shadow regions that would otherwise be too faint to see. 

 High dilution development can also produce an adjacency effect at the boundaries between high density area and low density areas, where unused developer near low density areas diffuses to the edge of the high density area and makes it even denser, which increases perceived sharpness. This can also lead to artifacts like “halos” around highlights and high contrast edges.

 If the developer solution is too strong, the highlights won’t exhaust the solution and the film will be overdeveloped.

 If the developer solution is too weak, there won’t be enough developing agent to fully develop the negative, and it will be underdeveloped.

 If there is too much physical movement of the solution during processing, the highlight regions will continue to get fresh developer instead of exhausting the local supply of developing agent, and will be overdeveloped.

 Stand development isn’t suitable for all developer and film combinations.  The classic developer for stand development is Rodinal. However, as described in my earlier post, in my minimalist processing setup, I use HC-110 for everything. Fortunately, HC-110 also gives good results in stand development processes with most black and white film and Tri-X in particular. HP5, TMax 400 and 100, and Fomapan 200 have also worked for me, but I seem to use stand development the most with Tri-X. 

 Some of my photos processed using stand development

 My basic stand development recipe is

  1. 4 ml solution in 640ml water, for 1:160 dilution, 45 minutes @ 20C, semi stand
  2. 30 seconds initial agitation (gentle inversions)
  3. Tap tank on hard surface to avoid air bubbles. Leave tank untouched during development.
  4. 3 inversions at half way (around 20 minutes - this is the “semi” part)
  5. Tap tank on hard surface to avoid air bubbles. Leave tank untouched during development.
  6. End at 45 minutes.

The exact timing for stand development is far less critical than with normal dilutions. There are anecdotes of people who accidentally left film in a stand development solution overnight, and still ending up with dense, but useable negatives. Like all film developing processes, consistency and good note keeping will help improve your results, but once you have a workable high dilution recipe, it will tend to be extremely tolerant to modest changes.

 In my case, I have slowly been increasing dilutions and decreasing development time to limit highlight density to something that my scanner can cope with. It’s very easy to produce negatives that have great looking highlight detail when you look at them, but which still scan as completely burned out, because of the limited dynamic range in most scanners. This is not so much of a problem for darkroom printing, since you can just burn in the denser areas, but that doesn’t work on a scanner.

 There are a number of useful resources for comparing notes with people and learning about stand development.

Stand development takes a lot longer than conventional processing, but it can produces some unique and useful results while requiring very little attention during a nearly foolproof process.

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    For future reference!
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