Today I received 5 rolls of colour film back from the lab (Genie Imaging, London) so this is my first colour film model photography shot posted for 2013.
This was taken before the summer with my Nikon FM 35mm SLR & Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s lens on the amazing Kodak Porta colour film. Shot In Bournemouth with Polish model/ friend Agnieszka who flew over for the shoot.
The Kodak Portra colour film tones are amazing. I need to shoot more colour film even if the developing is more expensive. For the rest of 2013 and for 2014 you will start to see my work getting more colourful!
More colour Kodak Porta film photography photos to follow once scanned. It is a mix of 35mm and medium format 120 film shot on a Mamiya RZ67 (Bridal Photography shoot!) and the 6×6 ARAX-CM (Street Photography in India!).
Rodinal Stand Development (How To!) / Rodinal Developer
Rodinal Stand Development – This was my preferred method of B&W film developing when I first started film photography and developing film at home. Article provides a how to guide together with sample photos and thoughts along the way.
PART 1: The basics – Rodinal Stand Development
PART 2: More in depth – Rodinal Semi-Stand Development
PART 1: Rodinal Stand Development
Rodinal R09 One Shot / R09 developer
When home developing B&W film I normally I use a mix of Xtol & Rodinal to stand develop my film but today I tried just Rodinal, 1:100. I say Rodinal but the formula I use is actually called R09 One Shot or R09 developer. You can buy it in 125ml bottles from eBay.
Adox Rodinal / Adox Adonal
Rodinal developer is sold in a few different forms. In addition to R09 developer (One Shot) I also have Adox Rodinal in a bottle that looks like this and it is also sold as Adox Adonal. I have not tried the Adonal version but the bottle looks almost identical to Adox Rodinal.
Where to buy Rodinal?
I think I bought my very first bottle of Rodinal developer in a camera lab but since then tend to buy most things online as it is just easier. In the UK you can get Adox Rodinal from Amazon if you don’t live near a big city: Adox Rodinal – Amazon (UK)
Paterson tank (Film developing tank) + Developing
For my 120 film reel depth in the Paterson tank I needed 600ml approx (to be safe) so used 6ml of Rodinal to tap water. Normally I develop for 19-23 mins so I did not want to wait the usual ‘1 hour’. I timed 30mins and did 1 agitation at 15mins (so this is semi-stand developing really)(for even results/ increased contrast) at 20 degrees.
Rodinal Developer Times
The standard Rodinal developer times that most people use or mention online is the famour 1 hour duration. If you are new to using the Rodinal developer I would say start with 60 minutes and check the results. If for you the film develops a little too exposed/ bright for you taste then next time shorten the Rodinal developer times by 10mins. You can just play around with it to taste. I have found there is not a hard and fast rule and I always experiment with different times and temps to see the effect.
Film roll #1 – Stand development (Mamiya RZ67)
This was a model photography portfolio shoot with UK model Josie. I used my Mamiya RZ67 and Fuji Acros film. She had mainly digital photos taken on the day but when I seen a nice pose I grab the Mamiya RZ67 / Contax 645 for some film photography shots.
Mamiya RZ67 + Fuji Acros film developed with Rodinal
Rodinal developer characteristics
The end result.. I actually much prefer this to my normal developing look for this photo at least. Very sharp, highlights not blown (nearly always are usually) and nice contrast and tonal range. I’m impressed!
Guide to Stand development with Rodinal
I saw this post and I think it may well be the best description of Stand Development i’ve seen. Have a read if you’ve never tried stand developing film
Second roll developed with Rodinal. Here I developed 120 Kodak T-Max 400 in Rodinal 1:150 for 1 hour at 20 degrees C. (Why 1:150..why not!)(will try Rodinal 1:200 next)
“The Dancer” – Contax 645 + Carl Zeiss 80mm f2 lens (1/60 at f2)
PART 2: Rodinal Semi-Stand Development: Getting More Technical!)
Black and White Film Developing
Regular readers will know I develop my black and white film at home using the Rodinal (R09 One Shot) semi-stand development method using times less than one hour. The more common approach is ‘Rodinal stand development‘ for a duration of one hour. I have already written one post on stand developing (link below) but as I like to experiment I am starting to fine tune my method (and I will continue to do so).
The standard stand development method is a good safe option but can produce ‘flat’ negatives. By that I mean mostly mid greys and lacking contrast (highlights and shadows). I generally develop my Kodak T-Max 100 film in Rodinal for 40-45 minutes with one or two turns (“agitations”) during that time. What I noticed is when I have shot a roll of B&W film over a period of several days in varying light conditions the film negatives results will also vary dramatically.
Photos taken in bright light/ direct sunlight/ contrasty light/ hard light such a direct flash / speedlights benefit from a shorter developing time (such as 40 minutes) and give high quality negatives with a broad dynamic range (highlight detail, range of mid grey detail and shadow detail).
Photos taken in the shade / even light / overcast day / inside without obvious directional light will develop as just mid greys lacking contrast and clarity when using the same developing time. Luckily film retains a lot of detail so negatives can be pushed / pulled when scanned to boost contrast and if needed boost contrast further in PP.
Not Rocket Science!
I know that all sounds obvious. It is not rocket science that contrasty light when taking a photo on film will give a more contrasty negative. But, the trick is when you want to create a contrasty negative from flat light. If the photos were taken on an overcast day increase your developing time and also the number of agitation during film developing and this will help the highlights (or brighter mid greys) develop further to give a negative with more contrast.
Rodinal – How it works – Recap!
Rodinal stand development
OK, to recap how stand development works, highlight areas develop faster than areas of shadow. Developer around the highlights stops working after a certain time and then the remaining time lets the shadow detail develop further. If you don’t agitate the film and stand for one hour the highlight detail and shadow detail both have time to develop. The highlight detail is not blown as the developer becomes exhausted around highlight detail sooner so stops.
Rodinal semi-stand development
For semi-stand development you are basically refreshing the highlights areas with new developer each time you agitate the film so the highlights develop further and faster. By stopping the time sooner the highlights are developed but some deeper shadow detail remains less developed thereby produce a negative with more contrast.
That shorter time works well if photo are taken in ‘good’ light (good light being with direction). If however the light is flat then more agitations will refresh the highlights more to try to ‘over develop’ beyond the brightest seen when taking the photo and thereby giving a negative with more contrast.
Mamiya 645 Super + 80mm f1.9 lens
Xtol + Rodinal
For film photography I often like to use my own home brew of Xtol and Rodinal developers mixed together to develop my black and white film negatives. I have used various ratios of each but all giving acceptable and pleasing results. I will maybe write another blog on the Xtol developer when I get time.
Are Xtol stock and diluted Rodinal one shot developers?
Camera shop answer:
After speaking to a camera shop I was advised that it is recommended to dump your developer after each roll of film developed…
The real answer!:
(Based on my own experience). I am self taught so learn as I go. My first disappointment was using a batch of developer that was a week old (since dilution from Xtol stock/ Rodinal concentrate) and the film negatives came out almost blank. The developer had been kept in a clear soft drink bottle in a dark cupboard.
My first valuable lesson was diluted developer does not last as long as diluted fixer solution. I now aim to use a developer batch within 2-3 days of dilution and then dispose of it.
Cheap film development
Unlike the guy in the shop, I do not use the developer as one shot. I make up a mix 1L of Rodinal developer brew (diluted Rodinal) and develop as many as 6 rolls of film (mostly 120 medium format film but also the occasional 36exp 135 film) during a 2-3 day period. Now this is cheap film development if you do the maths!
Here is an example photo from the 6th roll of film developed last weekend in Rodinal :
Bridal Photography with Contax 645 & Fuji Neopan 100 film
Rodinal active ingredients
Obviously the active ingredients in the film developer becomes more exhausted after each roll of film developed so developing times will need to be increased accordingly. Even if you only develop 2-3 rolls of film per batch of developer you have still made a 100% or 200% saving on developer costs. More film myth breakers coming soon!
If you are on a tight budget, say a student and need cheap film development to persue your hobby, another way to cut cost is to use a rodinal dilution such as 1:2 /1:3 etc. 1:3 dilution gives you 3x more film developed so if you reuse your rodinal dilution too (rather than as a one shot)(as I describe above) you now have a super cheap film developer!
The problem with stand development
The problem arises when you have a ‘mixed’ lighting conditions roll of film. Some negatives will be near perfect already and some will be flat. If you agitate the film more during developing then you will blow the highlights on the contrasty negatives. If you agitate less the flat negatives will develop as just that, flat and grey.
Make good notes!
So in conclusion, I will try to make a note of the lighting conditions I shot the film in if films are being stored before being developed. For medium format film I will try to shoot an entire roll in similar light as you get less photos on a roll anyway (8-16 depending on 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, with 645 format normally giving 16 negatives). For 35mm film when you have 36 exposures it is not always possible to shoot all images in similar light so in this instance I might develop with less agitations for a longer duration and increase the contrast in post processing (“PP”).
Practise + trial and error = perfect
I hope that made a little sense! The best way to learn is to try what method works best for you. Everyone is different but the above approach is how I currently develop my black and white film.
Examples images – Film Portraits (Leica M2)
Flat light – flat negative push when scanned (note more grain)
Contrasty light – contrasty negative with fine grain
Me in action shooting the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II medium format film camera!
This was taken of me while I was shooting an Asian pre-wedding shoot. For medium format film photography I currently use 120 Kodak T-Max 100 film or 120 Kodak TMax 400 film. The Mamiya RZ has a 6×7 format so gives 10 photos per roll of 120 film. (In comparison a 6×6 format film camera such as a Hasselblad will gives 12 photos per roll)
In this shot I am using the Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 lens – my favourite lens of the Mamiya RZ67 lens lineup with amazing shallow depth of field and small and compact compared to some of the other RZ lenses. For wider photos I favour the Mamiya 65mm lens and for a telephoto the Mamiay 180mm lens. The 90mm lens came with the camera but I don’t use it as too close to my favoured 110mm.
Despite the large size of the RZ67 I use the camera like any other on location aswell as in the studio. I also use it handheld when there is suffiicient light (but in low light opt for a monopod).
The Mamiya RZ is currently my favourite camera and the huge 6×7 negative scans using an Epson v600 are just amazing. The subject gets a 3D look which is difficult to achieve with digital photography.
I use the RZ67 for model photography and as a wedding photographer. I am doing a black and white wedding photography package for a lucky couple this week so examples coming soon!
My new camera has arrived! A nearly new Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangerfinder 35mm film camera, together with the amazing Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens. This little 40mm manual focus lens that single handedly taught me photography (when using it on my Lumix G1) and later was the reason I became “MrLeica” (The Voigtlander 40mm was also the reason I bought my first digital Leica camera!)
My latest purchase has arrived. The Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera with it’s Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens.
Voigtlander Bessa R3A – It is tiny compared to Mamiya RZ67 ProII! Very solid and feels well made. Simple layout/controls with a modern looking LCD viewfinder that I was not expecting. I am more accustom to focusing through lens cameras than rangefinders so I was a little worried whether I would be able to do my shallow DOF model photography at f1.4 accurately. For those that have not tried a rangefinder camera the main differences are you cannot see the DOF you are shooting and if your subject is off centre you have to focus in the centre square first by overlaying the two images and then recompose and try not to move the camera plane of focus.
Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens – I’ve used a copy of this lens in the past on a Panasonic Lumix G1 when I first started out with my photography. (See post and examples here). I was gutted when I could not bring it with me to Nikon. I had great memories of using this lens so was super excited when it came as standard on the Bessa. As my last post suggests it was literally like being reunited with an old friend. The lens is compact, oozes quality and good workmanship and looks great. I knew this lens gave a unique look to photographs particularly due to the ‘lively’ bokeh so I was very keen to get it back.
Here are some samples of photos scanned so far from the first roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 film put through the camera self developed in a brew of Xtol and Rodinal. I used it on two model photography shoots to give the models something different and hopefully special for their model portfolios.
Models; Harriett (in hat) & Emily.
Photos taken in France; Matilda; Paulina
Models; Josie, Emily
I will add to the post as I scan more images so feel free to check back in a week or two.
In addition to model photography I plan to use it for wedding photography. I literally cannot wait for my next couples big day who have opted for a full day of black and white wedding photography. This and in particular black and white film photography is my big passion so I will be in my element. 🙂
I shot a few rolls of Fuji C200 cheap 35mm colour film on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder over the summer. Here is the first sample taking with my Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens (the lens that comes with the Bessa R3A as standard)(Great lens!).
I saw the afternoon sun spilling into our french cottage through the open front door so I had to get a photo.
I will add more samples to this post as I scan the negatives.
Taken using some cheap 35mm Fuji 200 film I acquired.
This is the first of a series of short posts to dispel some of the myths I have come across when teaching myself film photography and more specifically developing black and white film.
Question: How long will fixer keep for once it has been diluted?
(I will use Kodak T-max fixer as an example, diluted 1:4 with water, as this is the fixer I use). I’ve read many different answers to this question but the most common one appears to be dump the developer after each roll of film developed. I develop my own black and white film partly because it is more economical. If I was to dump my fixer after every roll of film home developing would soon prove expensive.
Answer: (Based on my own experience). I made up a diluted batch of 1.5L of diluted T-max fixer 4 months ago and have stored it in a dark cupboard in a clear soft drinks bottle. The bottle is not full to the top so air is in the bottle. Since making the batch of fixer I think I have developed roughly 25 rolls of B&W film (mostly 120 film but the occasional 135 also). I tend to leave the film in the fixer for a longer period than suggested to be safe (20 minutes) but I have not observed any problems so far.
Here is an example from the last roll of film developed:
Yulya, Ukraine with ARAX-CM medium format camera & Kodak T-max 400
*I have read that diluted fixer can be used for as long as six months but so far I have not reached that stage.
Conclusion: Even if you want to play it safe and make up a new batch of fixer every month it will still be much cheaper than making a new batch after each roll.