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Getting Back into B&W Developing\.


DoubleE
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I'm just getting back into B&W film developing (and shooting film) after about a 20 year hiatus. So recently I bought some Tri-X along with some new chemistry, dug out my old changing bag, tanks and reels and got the Massive Dev app for my phone.  My favorite developer used to be Rodinal, so I got a bottle of Adox Rodinal to get started. I processed two rolls and I think it went pretty well, although I felt the negatives had a bit too much contrast for my taste.  Also, I was also surprised at how grainy my scans were.  I used a 1:50 dilution, processed for 13 minutes at 20 C. I think... I may have been a little too zealous with the agitation, that's my guess, but I would welcome any suggestions as to technique or perhaps a recommendation for a different developer .  I dialed the contrast as far back as possible in Lightroom for the scans below.  I'm pretty happy with them, but I think I'd the highlights slightly less blown out, and the blacks a little more open. I'm just not sure how to get there. 

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This photo shows where the highlights got away from me.

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The highlights will be there in the negative, they were likely lost in the digitisation (scanning) phase. Re-scan, but with different exposure/contrast in the scan.

Rodinal does have a reputation for high acceptance (which will emphasise grain), a solvent developer like Ilfotec HC or Kodak HC-110 might be worth trying. Also, scanning often emphasises grain much more than would be visible through a diffusion enlarger.

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I agree with @105012, you should check the second negative to see if the shirt has more details and if so review your scanning pipeline.

For rodinal, I tend to do 2 very gentle inversions instead of the recommended 4. If the highlight are blown in the negative, you can consider to cut the development time or increase the dilution (this could be preferable as I believe it reduces the grain as well but I did not try yet). 

I really like the first shot, congrats on getting this straight away after a long break. 

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Let's not blame the developer too quickly, it could be a metering problem, although all that has been said about Rodinal can be true. If you are just getting back into film you need to get your eye in, know what the film likes, know how the developer responds, know how it will look scanned. If you are using a dedicated film scanner it will add digital noise and this can add to the natural grain of the negative. If you are using a camera for scanning it won't add digital noise (unless you are using absurd ISO values). I think the idea from @105012for using HC-110 is good, dilution B should give a datum point right down the middle of how Tri-X should look, neither too grainy or too contrasty, but depending on exposure of course. 

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I'm using a Nikon Coolscan iv with Vuescan software (camera was an M3, freshly CLA’d).  I'll try rescanning with different settings.  I've been considering switching to using my digital camera for scanning. It seems so much faster and more efficient from what I’ve read.  I just need a negative holder.

Looking over old negatives that I’m pretty sure I did with Rodinal, I very much prefer the results I got back then.  I think I was much more gentle with the agitation, that’s my guess.  But I also really like the qualities I found on negatives I had commercially processed, which which were probably done with a solvent type developer.  Trying HC110 or Ilfotec HC seems like a good suggestion.  For my first two rolls of film after so long, I guess I did ok. 

I’m definitely out of practice using a hand held light meter, although the rolls look pretty consistent frame to frame, which would seem to indicate it’s more of a development issue.  Anyway it’s exciting to get back into film, I can’t believe I dropped it so completely for so long.   

 

 

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The new HC-110 is less of a syrup than the old formula, so be aware of that change. I have a bottle of Ilfotec HC but haven't used it very often but found the results to be much like HC-110. A lot of returning to home developing after a hiatus is practice. If your scanner is still working and producing good results, stick with it. I scan my negatives with a digital camera but there are a lot of variables in obtaining good results, mostly keeping the negative flat and the camera aligned. Also, if you have a bottle of Adox Rodinal, experiment with some different dilutions to see if you like the results that change brings. Don't try to make too many changes at once and most of all, have fun with it.

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