Stand Development Film Speed and Contrast Range Increase

If by chance you have not heard of stand development, it involves using a highly dilute developer with minimal agitation and long processing times. Initially, it may sound like a great recipe for a film-developing disaster. But you might be surprised at the results and potential benefits.

What is Stand Development?

2 negatives side by side comparison, same film, exposure, subject, but different development times. Left hand side neg with R09 stand development, the right hand neg has normal development and agitation. The right hand negative is considerably denser in the bright parts of the image.
Stand development at left vs normal-1 development and agitation at right

If by chance you have not heard of stand development, it involves using a highly dilute developer with minimal agitation and long processing times. Initially, it may sound like a great recipe for a film-developing disaster. But you might be surprised at the results and potential benefits.

Now there are plenty of online forums spruiking stand development. They have even gone as far a coining the term modified stand development. But there is little information giving objective measurements.

So, I thought I’d explore stand development to see if I could quantify its effects using my own materials and procedures. I conducted a series of simple film density tests designed to see what happens to the light and dark parts of the negative respectively.

This popular article has been recently revised and now includes a section on troubleshooting. It is now available as a convenient downloadable PDF file that you can keep on file or mobile, so it can be referred to easily.

You can help support this website by purchasing the booklet for less than a cup of coffee (AUD$5 ).


Related Downloadable Booklets

Cover of image of Large Format camera Movements pdf booklet showing a wooden field camera with leather bellows, lens tilted towards viewer.
Large Format Camera Movements PDF Booklet

Check the table of Contents for movements covered. For less than a cup of coffee, a downloadable 29-page reference guide to Large Format Camera Movements, with actual example photographs. Keep it on file or conveniently on your phone.

Testing Film Speed Digital download booklet on how to test your film speed and find your normal contrast developing time for black and white films
Testing Film Speed PDF Booklet

This is a visual check that uses graphic arts step-wedge. It can be completed with just 2 sheets of 4×5 film and no densitometers. A downloadable 16-page reference guide to Testing Film Speed. It can be kept on file or conveniently on your phone.

If you have any questions or feedback please leave them here in the comments section of this post. Alternatively, you can leave a review on Google.

alexbond
alexbond

Since 1989, Alex Bond has published cards, calendars, books, and posters under his imprint Stormlight Publishing. His images showcase the West Australian environment. Bond's handcrafted, silver-gelatin, fibre-based prints are personally made by the author in his darkroom.

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2 Comments

  1. 1. When you say the film speed is increased by half stop, is that over the box speed or your “normal” speed which is about half box speed?
    2. Using R09 and fp4 you developed (30 minutes) to N-4. What if I don’t want to develop with that much contraction, but N-2 or N-1? Do I stand develop for longer times/agitation? Add more developer?
    3. Would you try stand developing with Tmax films? I’ve read that some find it doesn’t work so well.

    • Hi Stephen, great questions, thank you. I will reply as you have numbered.
      1. It is not the box speed but my effective film speed. For example, I have compared a rotary developed test negative developed with LC29, with a stand developed test negative developed with LC29. By proper proofing comparing the two step wedge test negatives I could see a marked improvement in low (dark) print value separation (steps) that was approx half a stop (in my case).
      2. So if you don’t want N-4, increase the agitation in both frequency and amount until your proper proofed step wedge test film is showing the contraction you desire. That’s the beauty of this technique, you can adjust any film and developer combination to potentially meet you requirements. With this visual test you know you are in the ballpark when referring to the actual print values in the contact sheet.
      3. The answer is yes. I would make a step wedge test negative and a contact print from it to find out how well it works, and how to optimise results to my liking.

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