Why stand developing is my new favorite method for black and white analog photography

Stand developing (SD) is an old method of film processing that involves developing at a high dilution over a long period of time — generally 45 to 60 minutes, with little agitation.

First, it’s no easier or harder than traditional developing, just different and in my opinion more delicate and forgiving. There’s no right or wrong way to do it — but if your negatives look like garbage, you probably did something outside the bounds of your chemistry. SD starts with a high dilution of the developer. I used Rodinal at a 1+100 dilution. From what I’ve read, this seems to be the most popular developer for this method. Some suggest any agitation defeats the purpose of stand development, but it helps avoid the most common flaws of SD, namely bromide drag, and unwanted gradients. So I agitate for the first 30 seconds, then for 10 seconds/minute for the next five minutes, then once for ten seconds at the 30-minute mark. Pull the film after 60 minutes, then it’s business as usual when it comes to your Stop, Fix and Wash steps.

By letting your film simmer in a soup of developer, you exhaust the developer working on highlights first. Since you’re not agitating every minute you allow the developer to go to work on your shadow, which takes longer for the stagnant developer to process. This gives you a balanced, low contrast image, which you can fine tune in post processing. I took the following images at the Denver Art Museum.

Denver Art Museum | My first attempt at Stand Developing

About me:

I’m a run-of-the-mill photo taking person and full-time marketing person. You can view my work at www.instagram.com/mrstabile/, or my website at www.erikstabile.com.