Experiment with pushing Tri-X to 1600

I’ll apologize right off the bat because this post is going to be a lot more technical in nature but I promise I’ll cut the geek stuff a little bit in my next few posts.  I just wanted to share some results with you guys from a recent experiment.

If you guys haven’t already noticed, the high contrast and inky black look is something that I really enjoy doing.  This is made easier by pushing black and white (or even color) film.  I’ve pushed C-41 film in Tokyo and loved the results and I am doing the same with black and white.

Just a little background for those who may not be familiar with pushing film; if you’re stuck in a low light situation, you can expose your film at a higher ISO and then “make up” for the difference with longer development periods.  Pushing film also increases contrast (I won’t go into how or why since I don’t want to annihilate whatever following I have on here haha).  

This bump in contrast is something I really love and I find myself pushing film more and more.  In these two photos you see above, my Mamiya RZ67 was loaded with Kodak Tri-X which was shot at an EI of 1600.  Since Tri-X is rated at an EI of 400, I needed a two stop push in development.

There were two things I did that is kind of controversial in the eyes of classic darkroom photographers.  1. Rodinal developer was used and 2. I semi-stand developed these photos.

Rodinal is a high acutance developer and many people think it’s poor for pushing film.  I agree that there are better developers for pushing Tri-X such as Microphen and D76 or even HC-110, but I wanted to see if the grain was as bad as everyone claimed.

Also, stand and semi-stand developing is also kind of a no-no for many people.  Many people claim it results in inconsistent development and bromide drag (even while using Rodinal).  

Stand developing just means a highly diluted developer (usually around 1+100) is poured into the development tank and allowed to simply sit until development is complete.  Semi-stand is the same as stand developing except the tank is inverted every so often.

For these photos I used a 1+100 concentration of Rodinal at roughly 20C (temperature isn’t very important) for 120 minutes.  After pouring the developer in, I agitated for the first minute and then did 4 semi-vigorous inversions every 30 minutes.  The film was then fixed and washed as normal before scanning.  The photos you see are straight scans from my Epson V500 (minus the resize).

The photos all turned out very nice, I felt like sharing my results with you guys.  Yes you do see a bit more grain caused by the push processing but it is kept in check by the development method.  It looks nice and even (in my opinion) without being overbearing or “clumpy.”

So if you guys want to push your Tri-X in Rodinal, give it a try.  It worked great for me.


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