Thanks for your insight, I would concur with you on all points where I have experience. I must admit, when this process first made itself predictable for me I was using it strictly for ULF film, which required much a higher contrast index than that of film to be enlarged. To your point, I was very skeptical that if I were to D my 5x7 film for enlargement I was concerned that the image would look "fractured" as one prominent LF photog told me when he saw one of the first ULF images from a Semi-Stand regime.
That has not turned out to be the case, in part I believe due to the much lower contrast which I D my 5x7 film too. I shoot for a 1.10 density above film base plus fog for reasons I'll share below. In fact these lower indexed negs in some cases actually appear to have an even more subtle transition of tone than some of the ++ Developed negs which are contact printed onto Azo. I cannot speak to the edge effects which this technique would impart on 120 roll or even 35mm film, so it comes as no surprise whatsoever Ian of your observations.
Michael, when I first had success with this process I shared my technique with Sandy King as I felt somewhat indebted to Sandy for explaining the possibilities of the technique if it were ever to become predictable. Sandy subsequently did much testing and coined the terminology as follows, STAND Development is one initial agitation with no intermittent agitation before being removed to stop / fix. SEMI-STAND is considered to be only one intermittent agitation after the initial agitation. Extreme Minimal Agitation is considered to be any number of agitations of 2 or more. In my technique I use 2 intermittent agitations which read like this, 2M 12 x 3(20) Which means, 2 minute initial agitation followed by a Stand period of 12M followed by a 20 second agitation followed by a Stand period of 12 minutes followed by a 20 second agitation followed by the last 12 minute Stand before removing to stop / fix. Therefore, 12x3 = 36 + 2M initial agitation + 38 minutes total time in Developer. It is not so important you do things exactly as I do, rather you do them consistently whatever your methodology becomes. I will say this, the initial agitation is a bit more aggressive than the more gentle intermittent agitations. Also, one of the biggest mistakes I made early in the trials was to use a stirring action to agitate, this lead to increased film edge density. I now used an inversion method with no signs of increased edge density, another technique early in the trials which yielded positive results and cured many friends inconsistent results was to use a plunger type action similar to a washing machine's agitation.
Yes I do use many different dilution and agitation regimes, I do not ever change temperatures but do change many other components of the D process. My Reduced Agitation method of developing film has become very intuitive for me, it is not the greatest way to share my experiences but nevertheless very predictable for me.
I have found when bold statements are made that seems to bring out what I like to call Forum Voyeurs, I have little time or motivation to debate issues I know to be absolute. That said, I have often referred to this technique as a near Magic Bullet because, film speed is maximized, highlight contrast is compressed all the while mid tone contrast, easily the most difficult area of the negative to control is exaggerated.
As long as bold statements are being thrown around, I do believe I can make a suitable / printable negative in any lighting condition which will yield a full range of tones no matter how extreme the contrast is in either direction. That however, does not guarantee a fine print because as we all should know the single most important factor in the success of a photograph is the quality of light and how we choose to exploit it.
Generally speaking, film developed to a lower density will be sharper than film which has to be plus developed to expand contrast. I target my negs to fall on the low side of a Multi Contrast paper so that the negative mid tones fall on the straight line of the paper I use.
A topic for another discussion, the main difference for me between my ISO tested FP 4 and HP 5 is speed, 160 ISO and 400 ISO respectively. Clearly, the two films have decidedly different contrast curves, I believe those traits are diminished when developed using a Reduced Agitation form of processing.
Last edited by Steve Sherman; 10-11-2013 at 06:26 PM. Click to view previous post history.