Black-n-White Chemical Bath.

Str8 2 Business:

     I’m a fan of black and white development. Not only does it help race relations but it also produces outstanding film negatives when a suitable process is adapted. While I won’t discuss the latter, I will talk about the former and what I perceive to be the best formula for my style of photography. 

     I shoot people. Not in a literal sense but in a literal way when my weapon of choice is a odd shaped box with a few knobs, a button, and a pretty piece of glass to scope with. And I do scope more than pose. As an Urban Documentarian I aim for irreplaceable scenes. One time moments in life that I get to be a part of indirectly. It’s such a rush. 

    While technically still in my early years I’ve come to develop a taste for somewhat flat to contrasty scenes. I want to produce usable negatives with flexibility for silver gelatin prints. I’ve tested three brands over this period and have fallen for two of three.  

     My film of choice is Ilford HP5 and I tend to shoot at box speed (400 iso) or push to 800 iso when needed. In order to achieve those results you have to be aware of the developer you choose. In my case it was a choice of three: Kodak HC-110, Kodak D-76 and Bergger Berspeed. The difference between all three has to do with development speed (HC-110 being the fastest) and fine grain and acutance (perception of sharpness) which both D-76 and Berspeed are great for. 

    Berspeed and HC-110 are my favorites among developers. HC-110 as a one shot developer and Bespeed 1:1 used with up to 4 rolls of 120 in one session. I wouldn’t use it more than that. 

    Berspeed @ 1:1 provides the longest processing time at  68 F with a recommend processing temp of 75 degrees for most film. The way that I develop has allowed me to appreciate the slowness of a long processing time and coupled with Berspeed’s sharpness I can’t complain at all. 

   In order to keep this post short I’ll jump right into my process.

   1 minute initial agitation

   4 inversions every two minutes (or if using a Patterson tank w/ agitation stick then do the same. I enjoy the stick method along with quick inversions or rotations for both)

  • 1 minute stop bath
  • 6 minute fixer
  • 2 minute wash aide 
  • 6 minute wash with a dump every minute
  • 30 second photo Flo

    All at 68 degrees. 

    I should mention that my only use of 75 degrees is when I use Berspeed. Kodak HC-110 dev times are far too short for higher temps. I also have my chems stored in 1 liter plastic water bottles. During prep time I submerge them in a plastic dish washing bowl to balance temperature. 

   Scanning is handled with an Epson Perfection V550 and unless I really need to, some digital editing is handled via Lightroom. Dust removal or some type of contrast adjustment. thats it. 

   I’ve been teaching myself the Print process in my makeshift darkroom but thats a topic for next year. 

   Thanks for reading. 


Copyright © James Dickerson 
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