The change in film and developer is primarily to reduce costs and also because the powder developers are stable enough to survive the high temperatures that we are experiencing at the moment.
The initial attempt at processing was not a great success, with the negatives under developed and vertical stripes that may or may not have been bromide drag. The next attempt increased the development time 25% and I used a much more aggressive agitation technique – both more vigorous and with 30s intervals rather than the usual 1m.
The resulting negatives were still fractionally under developed and there were no streaks running from the film’s sprocket holes – but the extra agitation had caused the highlights to block-up.
So a final attempt further increased the development time and switched back to a more gentle 1m agitation. The results are cleaner, and although lacking shadow detail compared to Delta 400 and DD-X they are probably now close to what can be expected from the film and developer.
Another potential issue is the hight ambient temperature at the moment. All these films were developed at around 26c, which is warmer than I would like even if the development times are still reasonable.
In daylight, the results are excellent. But at night, with the strong lighting contrasts and uncertainties in exposure, it is much harder to get satisfactory results.
As if changing film and developer were not enough, these were also shot with a fast 35mm lens, rather than 50mm. The aim was to see if this would help ease focus difficulties, but realistically the difference is small. Everything here was shot wide-open at f/1.4 with speeds of 1/30th to 1/60th second, making focus and motion blur an issue when close to a subject.
I am still not clear if I prefer the 35mm or 50mm for shooting at night. There is a difference in character, but not so much that one focal length of obviously “better”. That said, it is sometimes said that the role of a photographer is to tease order out of chaos – which might suggest the 50mm as a partial antidote to Barcelona’s anarchic streets.
Now, more than anything, I need to get out and shoot more – not withstanding the exhausting temperature and humidity that has recently been so painful even late at night.