Pushing Ilford Delta 100 to 400 can be done

Delta is not know for pushing, but when you have shot a roll incorrectly, sometimes you just have to take the risk.

3 min read Filed in photography

So there I was…in the back woods of Point Lobos State Park in Carmel, CA. My friend Monica had spotted a doe and her fawn walking through the woods about 20 yards ahead of us. She was carrying the 300D with a long lens, shooting at 300mm with ease. The deer could not escape her long reach. I was carrying a Rolleicord 1A with a 75mm…I was going to have to get close. And so the fun began.

She went one down one trail, while I split off into the woods, coming over on another trail. The deer of course were privy to this and froze, watching and listening before making there next move. As Monica walked towards them, they ran across her path and into the woods in my direction.

What most people don’t know is that deer can be mean. If they feel threatened, they will attack you. I knew this and given that this doe had a fawn in tow only heightened my awareness. I had to be cautious; if I get to close, that doe was going to ring the bell for a single round knockout.

I followed them step for step. They froze, I froze. They moved, I moved. Soon I was on a trail when low and behold the doe came shooting out of the thicket directly onto the path and stopped. A ray of light shot out from above the trees perfectly back lighting her. I could not have asked for a better scene, only a 10 feet away, and I was in awe of the beauty. I pulled that shutter on that Rolleicord with great delight. The doe and her fawn then scampered off into the forest.

Fast forward to the car, changing out film. I had sworn that I was shooting HP5+ at 400, but low and behold I had carelessly loaded Delta 100 Pro instead earlier that day. I wasn’t made, but rather sad at the fact that I had just possibly lost my dream like deer shot. Ilford Delta wasn’t known for being pushed two stops.

I looked everywhere, read everything I could about the film. Could it be pushed two stops and still have something usable? The general consensus was no. But someone had souped Delta 100 shot at 400 in HC-110 B for 10 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius with decent results on a rangefinder message board. Maybe there was hope yet.

Not one to give up, I loaded the film reel and pre-washed with 20C water. I mixed that HC-110B to the letter; it was as accurate a mix as I had ever made. I set the timer and started development. After a stop bath, a fix, and a wash and some Photoflo, it was show and tell time.

It had worked. There were my images, including my dream like doe on that forest path. Joy is the only thing that can describe it.

I suppose when all is said and done, it wasn’t that big of deal. I saved an incorrectly shot roll of film. But I guess the moral is, sometimes it’s the work just to get there that makes for a fun story.