It was over a year ago that I first wrote about Adox CHS 25, and I came to the conclusion then that I needed more time to decide if it was really for me. Ideally I’d try it in a different developer, but that’s not really economically viable for me right now so I did the next best thing and used stand development. My reasoning here is that agitation increases grain, so by using the minimal possible agitation I should achieve a finer grain in the negative, while at the same time getting a larger dynamic range in the image at the price of lower contrast.
I use stand development a lot when shooting infra-red film, and I find it works well with Ilford films too, so I have a pretty standard routine for it now. I use Rodinal (the bottle is labelled “R09 One Shot” but it’s the same stuff), adding 5ml of developer to 500ml of water and giving it a good mix.
Because the quantity is so small I use a syringe to measure the 5ml, with a length of plastic tube from an old cleaning spray attached to the nozzle to reach into the bottle of developer. The syringe also helps with mixing – by repeatedly drawing up water and pushing it back out you not only rinse out the syringe, but also create a lot of turbulence in the solution.
After it’s mixed I pour the developer in the tank and invert it thirty times at about one second per inversion. After that I give the tank some sharp taps and then leave it alone for an hour, preferably somewhere with a fairly stable temperature not too different from the temperature of the developer. Once the hour is up, I pour out the developer and then wash and fix as normal and hang up the film to dry.
I followed this method with a roll of CHS 25 that I shot on a cold winter morning and at first I thought it was business as usual, but when I was about to hang up the film, I noticed something odd. When viewed against a dark background the film had a milky fog over part of the surface, which wasn’t visible against a light background (see photo). My first thought was that the fixer was contaminated or exhausted, so I mixed a fresh batch and re-fixed it for about 10 minutes (erring on the side of paranoia) but it didn’t go away. After various discussions on flickr, I’m still not completely sure what caused it, but have come to the conclusion that it’s not dichroic fog, and not a fixer problem.
Leaving aside the mystery fog – which for the most part did not show up in scans or enlargements of the negatives – how did the film turn out? Well, the two examples here are very pleasing and are representative of the look of the full roll. The tones are great – with a good dynamic range – and the grain is barely visible. The slow speed of the film gave me some lovely slow water effects, since the winter gloom and my desire for deep focus pushed the shutter speeds all the way to the long end of the dial. So I think I’m sold now – this roll is much better looking than the normally developed roll in my opinion – and, provided I have enough light anyway, I’ll certainly want to put more of this through the Bronica.