View Full Version : specific situation: suggestions for development times and developers

25-Mar-2009, 22:28
So here's what I did...some of my girlfriend's relatives have gathered for a couple of days, and I wanted to shoot a family portrait for them, since it's doubtful that we'll all be together in the same spot any time soon, if at all in the future. They came down from Washington, up from Vegas, met in Sacramento, and there ya go.

I shot 4 sheets on the Tachihara 8x10 with the old brass magic lantern petzval (thanks again, Jim! :p ) I had definitely wanted to do 2 shots with the petzval and then do 2 shots with the 14" Commercial Ektar, so that I had at least 2 shots with an actual shutter, not just my fedora.

The shots were done just before sunset in front of the house, so there was direct sunlight on everyone's faces. Everyone has dispersed at this point, so there's no chance of a re-shoot.

Meter readings were: black pants of girlfriend, EV11.2, white garage door in background EV15.5. I've always rated the petzval (roughly 12" focal length) at f8 and had decent success with it before, so this was giving me a 1/30th sec. exposure time. With the 'remove the fedora, replace the fedora' shutter I was using, I figure I'm about 2 to 3 stops overexposed.

Film is FP4 rated at 64. I usually develop in Pyrocat HD 2:2:100 for 8 minutes in trays when I can control the shutterspeed.

Can anyone give me some guesstimate of what time I should use for the first exposure? I did 4 for insurance in case I screw up 3 of them (very likely) but I'd like to be reasonably close with the first one so that I can finetune the last 3.

Is there a good reason to back my dilution down to 1:1:100 and try stand or semi-stand developing? My only option is tray developed, so I don't really know if it's still called 'stand', plus I don't relish sitting in the dark bathroom for 40 minutes + fix time.

My concern is that by shortening the development time down too much, I'm going to lose local contrast in things like faces, hands, etc. Is this a legitimate concern?

Is there a better developer out there than my existing PcatHD for this sort of scenario? I have an unopened bag of Microdol-X that is fresh (someone gave it to me) but I have never used this developer before so I'd rather not experiment on these shots unless there's a clear benefit to this developer.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks


Mark Sampson
26-Mar-2009, 05:54
Replicate the original situation, without family. Any people will do. Shoot 4-8 more sheets, and try your development variations on those. When you get an answer you like, only then commit the family portrait film. Sounds like a lot of work but it's the only sure way.