Developing film is usually an involved, but not very creative process. Yes, you can do weird things (like developing your film in coffee), but most people mix a developer (in my case Rodinal) to a specific dilution, put the film and developer in a tank, and agitate it every minute or so until you reach the time that the Massive Dev Chart tells you.
The only problem with this is that it requires your attention for anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour, and, in my opinion, it’s not a very interesting process. That’s one of the reasons I decided to try semi-stand development.
Semi-stand is a process whereby, rather than agitating regularly for the development time, you instead leave the tank to stand for the whole time, with only a small agitation at the halfway mark. Of course, you could avoid this agitation altogether (this is called stand development), but you risk uneven development. I’ve used this process on two rolls of HP5+ so far, and both times have been happy with the results. While I have noticed some changes in the quality of the resulting images, I’m unsure whether this is down to the stand development, or merely imagined. After all, it’s very hard to distinguish differences due to development process in two different images. Having said that, I do think I’ve observed a much nicer quality to the grain in these photographs.
The best thing to me about this process, however, is the fact that it frees me up to do other things while developing! Once I started developing a lot of film, I found that, although I love the results, I didn’t enjoy standing for half an hour, watching a development tank. With this process, I can go away and read a book for an hour while my film develops!
I’m unsure whether I’ll keep using semi-stand development as my ‘standard’ process, as I have noticed some inconsistencies in the results, but it’s definitely a useful process to know, and a handy one for the lazy (or busy) photographer!