Doing What I Said I Wouldn’t Do – Working With Kodak HC-110 Developer…. First Thoughts

OK, I broke down, and did it. A few weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of Kodak’s legendary HC-110 developer. Highly concentrated (HC-get it?), this stuff is like a thick STP oil additive, or a syrup. I had to see what the buzz has been all about with this legendary developer. After a couple of rolls, here are some pros-

  • Extremely economical, this stuff will likely last forever in its concentrated bottle form
  • Fairly sharp
  • Good shadow detail
  • Fairly fine grain

And, some cons-

  • Kodak’s dilutions and rituals with this stuff are nightmarish to figure out
  • Intermediate “working solutions?”- really, don’t bother
  • Online development and mixing charts that are more like Space Shuttle flight plans
  • To my untrained eyes, D-76 flushes out more detail, especially in the shadows, and just looks nice.

So, how did I make this more simple? By using it as a “one-shot” developer, while ensuring purity and consistency. A metric dilution that works out to one part developer to forty-nine parts H2O (1+49). At 68 degrees F, a development time of 8 minutes, constant agitation the first thirty seconds, with two inversions every thirty. I credit photographer Jason Brunner (www.jasonbrunner.com), who I corresponded with, for this simplified formula. When measuring out such small amounts, I got a syringe like device, used to measure out individual millilitres. Yes, these can obviously be tweaked. I almost found the results too sharp, and had to add some Gaussian Blur into some scans. I followed my normal workflow the rest of the way.

The following were taken at Moore State Park in Paxton, MA, and you can see one of the largest manmade stone structural building foundations in the state. These were shot with Tri-X. Just developed some Plus-X tonight- should be interesting to see. In looking at the scans closely, well, I still love the overall look of D-76. But, it really is nice to have this as an economical option. An urban legend says Ansel Adams used HC-110. So, one asks, it must be good? He did use it as a compensating developer, to help bring out shadow detail. He used “Dillution G”, with long development times, of 18 minutes at 68 degrees.

I Saw The Light....

I Saw The Light....

Crooked Storage

Crooked Storage

Rhododendrons, Usually A Mid To Late Spring Shrub, In Mid July

Rhododendrons, Usually A Mid To Late Spring Shrub, In Mid July

400 Speed Film On A Bright Day? Why? It's Tri-X!

400 Speed Film On A Bright Day? Why? It's Tri-X! High Speed Shutter To The Rescue.

Favorite Exposure From This Roll

Favorite Exposure From This Roll

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Doing What I Said I Wouldn’t Do – Working With Kodak HC-110 Developer…. First Thoughts

  1. There is no standard dilution or development time, really. If HC-110 isn’t giving you enough shadow detail and you want to continue using it rather than switching back to D-76 then you may want to adjust your exposure and/or development time a bit to get more shadow detail. Any film and developer really can give you any sort of results you want, you just need to make adjustments to exposure and/or time to get the shadows, highlights and contrast you want.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s