There’s been an exposed roll of 35mm FP4 kicking around my desk drawer for a while now and I’ve no idea where it came from. This is unusual for me. I’m normally keen to develop my films as quickly as possible, convinced that each roll contains a masterpiece crying out to be released into the wild. Consequently there tends to be a lot of disappointment in my life. Anyway, it’s a bit odd to have a roll of film with no clue as to when or where it was shot, or even what camera it was shot with. Probably the one thing I knew for sure was that there wasn’t going to be anything worthwhile on it, otherwise I never would have forgotten about it.
Seeing as the stakes were low (and because fundamentally I’m lazy), I thought I’d stand develop it. But not the reasonably controlled and consistent semi-stand developing I often use for medium format film. Nope, this was the full on sling-it-the-tank-and-leave-it-untouched-until-I-can-be-bothered-to-get-up-from-the-sofa-type. Which turned out to be round about two hours.
Mix 5ml of Rodinal with 495ml of water
Don’t bother worrying about the temperature
Add to tank and agitate for 30 seconds. Or a minute. Or whatever
Whack tank to get rid of air bubbles
Make a nice cup of Earl Grey tea, cut a decent-sliced slab of homemade cake, sit down to watch a movie. I don’t recommend Transformers
When you feel like it, empty the tank, rinse once with water, fix and wash in the normal way
Hanging up the roll to dry I saw that I’d taken around 12 frames, scattered randomly along the whole length of the film. Quite why I’d done this is still a mystery, and although it was clear that the first few shots were taken in Brookwood Cemetery, there was no clue as to when.
Pentax KM / Ilford FP4 / Stand Developed in Rodinal 1+99
However, the remaining frames revealed all. These were taken on a long bicycle ride along the Thames last summer with my Pentax KM. How can I be so sure? Because I also took my Mamiya 645 with me.
A few years back I developed a roll of 35mm FP4 in Rodinal using standard processing. The results were grainier than I would have liked for a 100 ISO film, and I’ve never repeated it. By comparison, these are far more pleasing. Perhaps it’s the weak dilution that reduces the grain? Or the lack of regular agitation? Probably a combination of the two.
One conclusion I’ve come to through personal experience is that traditional grain films like FP4 do very well using stand development, but tabular grain films like T-Max and Delta are best avoided. Everyone else probably realised this years ago. But then again I’ve only just found out they had stopped making VHS players after an embarrassing conversation at the electrical store that made me feel about 80 years old.
Saturday saw the annual Stand Up To Racism March in London. I went on the same march last year and compared with now, 2016 seems like a land of unicorns and rainbows. Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders; these are all very naughty boys and girls and it’s disappointing their mothers didn’t teach them better manners.
My solution? Just be nice, people. OK?
There you go, sorted.
Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017 Nikon F90X / Kodak Tmax 400 / Developed in D76 1+1
Marge and me on the infamously gravelly Chesil Beach, circa 2009. I have conspicuously non-grey hair and Marge, as always, wears a hat very well. I’m not sure whether it was before or afterwards she bought me the book, but Ian Mcewan was one of her favorite authors.
Original photo taken on self-timer with my long defunct Olympus XA. Photo of the photo taken just to see how Tri-X would turn out pushed two stops and developed in HC-110. Pleasingly, I would say.
Shot with Yashica Mat with rolleinar 2 / Kodak Tri-X @ 1600 / Developed HC-110 Dilution B
There’s lots I could attempt to say about the reasons why I went on this rally. But writing isn’t really my forte, and this is, after all, just a personal webpage with a few inconsequential personal photos on it. Besides, polite, honest and well-informed debate is just so 2015. Nevertheless there are a couple of brief comments I’d like to make.
1) Currently in both the UK and US there’s a misunderstanding about what exactly constitutes a Democracy. Just because someone is voted in to power doesn’t mean he or she can then do anything they want. That person must still be bound by the law and the constitution, and for very good reasons. Being critical of the leader or their policies makes you neither undemocratic nor unpatriotic. On the contrary, it’s being able to challenge, either vocally or through the legal system, that signifies you are indeed living in healthy democracy. Many people who voted for Trump may well be happy with him undermining the constitution and the judiciary whilst he is implementing policies they agree with. But there will come a time when either he or one of his predecessors will attempt to do something they profoundly disagree with, and when that happens they’ll be extremely grateful to those people who ensured the President should be bound by the law. Whether it’s the US or UK, this is a principle I strongly defend, irrespective of whether or not I’m a supporter of that Government.
2) Like the travel ban, I believe there will come a time when Trump will try to do something that the judiciary rules is either illegal or unconstitutional, but he will nevertheless attempt to go ahead anyway. It will then be down to the agency tasked with implementing that policy, whether it’s the TSA, Homeland Security, the FBI or whoever, that will then need to make a choice between either obeying the law or the President. That’s the moment when the US will have not just a constitutional crisis, but in terms of its status as a Republic, an existential crisis as well. The American People will then have to make a profoundly serious choice about what type of country they want for themselves.
21 January 2017 Nikon F90X / Kodak Tmax 400 / Developed in D76 1+1