My Blog

RHB Dawn

A (very) early morning outing with Dave Tolcher

Last Sunday I managed to catch up with Dave Tolcher for a few hours. I drove over to Robin Hoods Bay for 6:15am and we were in position at Stoupe by 6:45.

Although I had intended to make a couple of Veliva images, the clear sky was not all that attractive so eventually when the sun got up I made the image above using Delta 100. Given the lighting, the negative has held the dynamic range well (processed at approximately n-1: my zone development still needs a bit more testing to firm up the times/exposures, though I am starting to get predictable and repeatable results). I was pleased with how this turned out, the print has a lovely feel to it.

At some point in the future I will write up my technical findings from the black and white project. Suffice to say that developing my own black and white sheet film has been significantly more straightfoward than I expected and rather an enjoyable exploration. I would encourage anyone to try it.

To get started I found a combination of a good book (Adam's the Negative was good for me) and a host of google searches did the trick.

A few key words to get you going:

QTR - great software for printing black and white on Epson printers. Controls exactly how much ink from each cartridge to use. Simple and brilliant results.

Paterson Orbital - A daylight print developing tray that can be easily modified to process sheet film. I bought mine on ebay and made three modifications - all made through experience! Firstly I sawed off the fins on the underside of the lid as I got a line of uneven development down the middle of the film. Secondly I stuck a few small plastic discs to the base using double sided adhesive tape (I modified some small plastic wall hooks from a DIY store) to enable the fixer to get underneath the film. Thirdly I replaced the pegs with match sticks to stop the film floating free. I have been getting very good and consistent results with about 300ml of liquid and using continuous (gentle) manual agitation.

Barry Thornton - His old site has a couple of excellent articles on the zone system, two bath developers and I also found his digital ebook to be a fairly good read.

HP Combi Plan - I have been using this tank as an alternative to the Orbital - especially for higher contrast scenes where I have tried reduced agitation development techniques - seeking to exhaust the developer in the highlights. However with some further experimentation I may be able to eliminate this and rely solely on the Paterson.

Compensating Development & Two bath development - Whilst I have had some success with this using the HP Combi Plan, I am still experimenting. A clear conclusion however is that this style of developing for sheet film makes absolutely no sense for images that are low or normal contrast. I have had far better results with these situations using standard development in the orbital (adjusting development times for lower or higher contrast - i.e. n-1, n & n+1). I am planning to test a range of two bath approaches for higher contrast images in the next couple of weeks alongside something approaching n-2 development times. Once I have sorted this all out in my head and got some repeatable results, I will report my findings. Roll film is of course a different matter entirely.