2020 has been a tough year. The shutdown brought on by Covid-19 put a damper on a lot of things we all love, most importantly, street photography. On a personal level, my fiancé and I were forced to make the impossible decision to postpone our wedding in early July. However, as time went on new opportunities began to open up.

Up till now, I previously used the services of local photo labs for my development needs. Necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to take the plunge and self-develop at home. After extensive research, I settled on Ilfotec DD-X.

My Canon FTb QL + Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Robert Guanci
My Canon FTb QL + Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Robert Guanci

I shot my earliest test rolls with my dependable Canon FTb QL, a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and ILFORD HP5 PLUS. Anyone who has held the FTb QL will know that it is quite the hunk of metal, discernibly heavier than something like the AE-1 Program, however, one listen to the satisfying snap of that shutter, anyone can forgive the excess weight. In the spirit of trying new things, I pushed a stop from El 400 to El 800.

Coincidentally, this new period of home development coincided with our move to a new apartment. These photos were taken the first few weeks since moving in, and as I continued to explore our new hometown, new scenes emerged, and a whole host of unique characters were now at my doorstep.

These photos were developed in ILFOTEC DD-X 1:4 at 68°F (20°C) for 10 minutes and scanned with my Epson Perfection V550. Even with  +1-stop push, the blacks are much blacker and there’s an artful boost in the contrast, much richer than ILFORD HP5 PLUS at its native ISO. ILFOTEC DD-X, the magic solution that it is, left the grain extremely pleasing even at El 800.

Covid-19 has certainly been tough, but in a sense, it’s also presented a unique blessing of time, time with loved ones and time to explore and learn new things. Having taught myself to develop at home, I can’t recommend it enough. Being part of the entire process from start to finish makes film photography that much more rewarding.

~ Robert

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  1. Hi Robert,
    First off, I’m sorry for the wedding delay. We know a young woman who had to delay & reschedule her wedding. Equal to rescheduling a space shot. Of course, there is always Vegas and Elvis.
    The FTb is a great hunk of metal and glass.
    The photos remind me of the neighborhood my cousins lived in (Woodside Queens) in the 70’s! Cool places.