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.