Well, I got back into MF last year, then started developing my B&W at home six months ago (after one lab scratched some of my film!). I studied how to get started on the Ilford website, and of course picked up a lot from browsing this wonderful forum! It really is dead easy to develop film - but getting it exactly right will be a never-ending lifetime pursuit I think!
So here in Dubai there is only one place that sells chemicals (that's Salam at Wafi if your local and didn't know), just Ilfosol 3, so that's what I started with. Then I brought some ID-11 back from Australia and have used that most of the time.
Advice was to stick to one developer and film type, but I have tried with a variety of films - mostly Delta 100 (Salam sells it - 4x5 as well!) and Tri-X, and little bits of Pan F+ and Acros 100. I am sticking to a combination of Delta 100 and Tri-X now.
I never realised how different these films are. First time I developed Tri-X I wasn't impressed with the results (fool that I am!), but the second time I fell in love with the tones. I find it great for portraits (of which see below), but lately I've taken city-scapes around Dubai in Tri-X that came out to my satisfaction too. Delta 100 is nice and sharp, I like it for landscapes. Only, I take photo's where I work in the Ethiopian desert, very bright and contrasty, I used an orange filter last time which meant quite slow exposure times, it's just on the hand-held limit for me. (I know - use a tripod...
My work flow is develop then scan and tweak in PS. I want to print in a wet room, but that's not possible where I am now. Eventually - that's my next step.
Some mistakes made along the way, but hey, how else to learn?
For example, I've tried to keep my process consistent. When I developed Acros, I used the Ilford agitation method, not that recommended on the Acros infosheet. Result? Really dense negatives - I should read the instructions more carefully. And the time I put the photo-flow in first, instead of the developer. I could see from the results why Ilford recommend not to do a pre-wash with their film. Yeah, everyone makes silly mistakes I'm sure.
But for anyone considering doing their own development, I would urge you to do so - aside from the money savings, it really is more satisfying.
One of my first Tri-X portraits. Mamiya 6.
I like the tones in Tri-X. My friends in Djibouti.
One more Tri-X.