Note: This Stand Development post assumes you know how to develop your own black and white negatives. If your new to developing check out this PDF tutorial from Illford.
What is stand development?
Stand development is a film processing technique where instead of agitating the chemicals during the development stage, you leave the developing tank to stand for a long time. This can produce a negative that is well balanced between the highlights and the shadow detail, with super smooth grain, and bring out shadow detail which would have otherwise remained underdeveloped.
How does it work?
The most active parts of the film during the development stage are the highlights. This quickly exhausts the developer, so once the highlights of the film have developed the shadows which are the least active parts of the film will continue to develop. Therefore it is important to remember to expose for the shadows if you are intending to stand develop your film. The highlights should be controlled by the development technique and gentle or no agitation. This method can be especially useful when shooting a high contrast scene.
Developing times start at around 50 minutes, so you have plenty of time to do other things (sleep, go shopping, watch a movie, have a beer) while you wait patiently for your negatives to develop. To compensate for the extended development time dilutions are typically a lot higher than standard starting at around 1+100 and this can be extended to much higher dilutions (1+200, 1+500) and longer developing times.
Due to the high dilution of the developer you could skip using a stop bath all together and go straight to the fixing stage. The rate at which the negative is developing is so slow that personally I doubt using a stop bath would be beneficial. So using this method can be a very economical way to develop your film.
If you choose to skip using stop bath I recommend that you replace this stage with water. This will help prevent your fixing agent from being contaminated with the developer solution.
Which developer should I use?
Start with Rodinal for your first try at stand development, its a fantastic developer and super easy to use. For more info on this developer see my blog post: An introduction to Rodinal. My favorite combination is using Fuji Acros 100 rated at 80 iso developed in Rodinal 1+100 for 50 minutes.
The manufacturers of Rodinal recommend that for consistent results you use at least 6ml of Rodinal.
You can use any developer, some are better than others. See the stand development flickr group to checkout what developer/film combinations the flickr community are using. Digital truth also have some good starting times.
Examples of stand development:
Working with chemicals can be dangerous, use common sense. I recommend that you wear eye protection, gloves and an apron. Do not eat, drink, or smoke in your working area and keep it well ventilated. All photo processing chemicals should be kept out of reach of children. Ensure that you dispose of any exhausted chemicals in an environmentally friendly way.