Footprints Could Find

When I saw this scene, it was overcast, and I knew that I wanted a bit of sun for contrast. We waited, picnicking on the grass across the street from this shuttered garage in Lind, Washington. After the second sandwich, the sun returned, but was not westerly enough to bring the box out of shadow.

I took the photo anyway, figuring that since it was Polypan F, the contrast would be nearly impossible. Polypan is a film that glows like it has almost no anti-halation layer of which to speak.

When it came time to develop this role, I wanted to try something different. I’ve backed away from Rodinal as I find it a bit too grainy. I love it for 4×5 sheets where the grain doesn’t matter so much, but for 35mm, I tend to use HC-110.

Additionally, I don’t believe I had ever used the 1+25 dilution – usually I’ll do 1+50. This is a stronger mix and is usually much quicker. Apparently (or anecdotally), it tightens everything up. I agitated as normal (30ish seconds right away, and then once every minute for about 10ish seconds), and this is my result.

It’s the farthest thing from glowing dreaminess that you can imagine. It’s practically without greys. It’s gritty and grainy in ways that are obviously Rodinal-inspired, but that look nothing like Polypan.

I’ve used Rodinal with Polypan before, usually opting to semi-stand it in 1+100 dilution. But I’ve also used 1+50 for 13 minutes, and I like it quite a bit. Both of those, however, I shot at 50iso. This role, I shot at 100.

And I think there is where I made the mistake. Or rather, that film speed is what helped the photos towards a starker contrast.

Though I like this effect, I have a lot of film emulsions that will do just this – ORWO UN54, for example. I think from now on, I’ll stick to Polypan F at 50iso, and develop in HC-110 stand or even Xtol 1+1 for 11 minutes, which gives almost no grain at all.

There’s also the idea of Ansel Adams’ take on Geoffrey Crawley’s “minimal agitation”. Basically it’s HC-110 at 1+90 dilution for 18 minutes. “Agitate continuously for the first 60 seconds, then for 10 seconds every third minute.” Crawley liked the “interesting internal contrast and acutance effects.” This was, according to the ‘Film Developing Cookbook’ the only method that Adams recommended for modern films (basically anything after 1980).

Adams used it for sheet film, of course, but I think I’d like it for Polypan. Maybe I’ll get around to it one of these days.


‘Footprints Could Find’

Camera: Ricoh KR-10
Film: Polypan F (x-2006); 100iso
Process: Rodinal 1+25; 10.5min

Lind, Adams County, Washington


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