I bought my first LF camera about a year ago, and have been shooting color transparencies. Got into it because of the likes of David Meunch, Jack Dykinga, etc., but recently my tastes have changed a little, and I'm itching to give B&W a try. But here are the two problems: 1) I've never developed a single bit of film in my life and 2) I don't want to accumulate a whole bunch of stuff until I'm sure this is not just a temporary obsession!
I've been reading a lot, Steve Mulligan's "B&W Made Simple" (or something like that), Adams' "The Negative", Picker's Zone VI Workshop book, Ken Lee's site, etc. I think I have some handle on the big picture, and I'm pretty comfortable with the technical aspects. There are a (very) few people in town who might be able to help me out, but they have not been terribly forthcoming so far.
I have 100 sheets of film, have decided on a developer, and am ready to start shooting to find a film speed and developing time. At this point I think I will eventually scan (or have other people scan) negatives and print digitally. Getting ahold of an enlarger does not look promising at this point. My understanding is that my testing should be conducted from exposure all the way to print, but it just ain't going to happen that way right now, and if I wait until I have everything worked out it may never happen!
So here is my dilemma: How should I develop my film? I had originally thought trays. I have also been offered the use of these hangers that I saw in a photo in The Negative - I think they are for what is referred to as the "dip and dunk" method. The advantage of these over trays would appear to be that the dunking tanks are taller and narrower than trays, so would be easier to put in a tub of water to hold the temp constant, rather than a fairly large area of sink needed to hold 4 trays. I just read about a "taco method" used by another forum member, and that sounds appealing. He says he folds the film like a taco, with the emulsion side in, puts a rubber band around it, and puts four sheets in a daylight developing tank.
So here are the specific questions:
1. Any strong feelings/opinions about any of these methods? Really like one, dislike one?
2. What choices of simple, relatively inexpensive daylight developing tanks are available? Does anyone know of a web source of information on their use?
3. If I don't use a daylight tank, what should I do about a clock? I've looked at a few on e-bay, etc. Saw some in the B&H catalog, but they seemed pretty expensive ($150-$200) for where I am at this point.
Thanks in advance for your help. This forum has been invaluable in my LF adventure so far.