Inspiration At The Oddest Time

Doing dishes on a Friday afternoon is not a time nor activity I would have thought where inspiration would hit. Yet that is exactly what happened today. I was finishing up the morning dishes and thinking about what I wanted to shoot this weekend. While some of the subjects that were coming to mind were interesting, none were grabbing me. I’m sure you will understand. I was nearing the end of the dishes and was no further along in deciding what to shoot this weekend than when I had started. Then as I watched the water bead off of one of the last plates as I rinsed it, inspiration hit and hit hard. So hard that I immediately dried my hands and ran for the F4.

Nikon F4 | Ilford HP5+ | Thorton Two-Bath

The setup was pretty simple. An upside-down plate that I had re-wet and lit with a mixture of late morning light from the kitchen window and augmented by the flashlight from my phone. The camera was my trusty F4 with a 50mm f/1.4 mounted and loaded with Ilford HP5+ rated at EI 400. After a few shots I realized that the 50mm, while it can focus fairly close, wasn’t getting the job done so I attached a +2 closeup filter which ended up working quite nicely.

Nikon F4 | Ilford HP5+ | Thorton Two-Bath

Development was proving to be the sticking point. The problem being my uncertainty as to which developer I wanted to use, D23, or Pyrocat HD. Either developer would give a look that I knew I would love but I couldn’t decide which look I wanted. For nearly half an hour I kept arguing with myself over which developer I would use. As soon as I had made my mind up I immediately doubted my decision and the internal bickering began afresh. The frustration became so intense I threw my frustration out in the form of a tweet on Twitter. Back and forth, forth and back I went until I finally said “Fine, Thorton’s Two-Bath it is!”. Where that came from I do not know. But I did know that if I didn’t rush to get the developer out and measured up quickly that the indecision would return. Being a 400 rated film my time was 5 minutes for both A and B baths. Agitation for bath A was 30 seconds of the initial minute then 10 seconds for the remaining minutes. Bath B was agitated for the 5 seconds at the beginning of the cycle and then 5 seconds each minutes for the remaining time. Normal stop bath and fix.

Nikon F4 | Ilford HP5+ | Thorton Two-Bath

So, why did I finally go with the two-bath? The way I explained my rationale to myself was that Thorton would be a give me sharpness closer to Pyrocat HD but yet retain the grain treatment that I would get from D23. The verdict as to whether I actually achieved this goal or not is left up to the viewer. Suffice it to say that I am quite pleased with the results and have been, once again, shown the value of having Thorton on hand.

Nikon F4 | Ilford HP5+ | Thorton Two-Bath

So what are your thoughts? Would you have chosen Thorton? If not, I would love to hear what you would have done had this been your roll of film. If you have any questions/comments about anything in this post, please feel free to throw them in the comments below. Good, bad, or ugly.

God Bless and Happy Shooting!

8 thoughts on “Inspiration At The Oddest Time

Add yours

      1. Love Thornton to bath!
        Fine grain and nice details.
        These photos are an inspiration to me. I have nikon F5 (F3 too) and micro nikkor 55mm f3.5.
        I have a query about D23. How many times can it be reused without being replanished?
        Regards from Spain. Juan.

      2. Juan,
        D23 (1 litre) can be re-used for 8-10 films if you increase development by 10% per film after the first. This is the old way of using it for those who didn’t want to replenish.


      3. Greetings Juan! Thank you for your kind words. As John has already mentioned, you can get 8-10 from 1 liter of D23 as long as you extend the time. This is how I was using it until I decided to give replenishment a try “just to see how it works”. I’ve been sold on replenishement ever since.

        God Bless and Happy Shooting!

  1. Thanks John.
    Maybe the best idea replanishement.

    He bought your book about a week ago. I’m assiduous to your youtube channel.

    Regards from Spain, Juan.

  2. Thanks Tony.
    Then I will do it by replenishing.
    I have the book “The darkroom cookbook”… There are both formulas.

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