How I Developed Black & White 35mm Film in a Darkroom

Apologies for the sound quality, esp. when showing the film developing time charts. 

Processing B&W film takes at least an hour and I did an InstaStories of the process that I uploaded on my Youtube Channel.

I shot an Ilford FP4 125 B&W film some time back and the roll of film had been living in my handbag for God knows how long and since I have limited access to a darkroom (that shall not be named), I decided to make the most of it.

Apparently, you are supposed to process film as soon as you finish photographing, but I have seen images from film rolls that have been processed several years or decades after they were shot and they look great. So, on that note, I went ahead and processed my roll.

Here is how I went about my process:

What’s in the box?

1x Film Developing Tank (Canister)
2x Film Spirals/Reel
1x Film Squeegee
1x Safety Goggles
1x Scissors
1x ‘C’ Clamp

Dry Side

Film Opener

Wet Side

Film developing chemicals
Water Bath
Wetting Agent

What Each Chemical Does

Developer – the clue is in the name really. In this particular darkroom, I am not sure which brand of chemical is being used as there are different kinds. All I know is that for 35mm film, in my case the FP4, I used 200ml worth of developer and mix it with 200ml of water – 1:1 ratio. And the developer I used cannot be used again. For my film, I had to agitate the chemical for 10mins. Hitting the tank on the side helps in removing air bubbles when developing the film. Inside any box of Ilford film, there are technical instructions which come in handy to help with the processing.

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Stop Bath – This is used to stop the film from developing further and is agitated for only a minute and the chemical can be reused until it becomes dead.

Fixer – This chemical stabilises the images on the film and is the final stage in processing the film.  You agitate it for at least 6mins, not forgetting to remove the air bubbles. The fixer can be used again.

Water – Used to rinse all the chemicals from the film and this takes the longest time at 15mins.

Wetting Agent – this helps prevent watermarks on the film when drying it. Very helpful especially in hard water areas like London.

Things I noticed whilst I was doing this:

1. The black stem inside the developing tank was upside down 😂
2. I should have gently moved the film reel in the water rinse
3. Goggles, gloves and an apron were available, but I didn’t use them. They should be worn for health & safety reasons really.

As you can see towards the end of my video, the lab technician was kind enough to show how the film is rolled onto the reel as this part is done in the dark and the two options of holding it down in the tank when only processing one roll. Which I failed to do 😱. I realised that without doing this, I could have ended up with a film that was not fully developed had the reel moved up the stem when I was agitating it with the developer. Lesson learnt!

And there you have it, that is how I develop Black and White film in a darkroom.

I only know of one place where you can process your own Black and White film and that is the Camera Club in London. You can only do this if you join to become a member and no, I have not been asked to say this.

Otherwise, you are left to drop off your film to any one of the few labs left around London, like Metro Imaging, Photofusion, BayeuxSnappy Snaps or Boots with the last two being on the budget end of film developing. Or, buy the kit needed from stores like Calumet or SilverPrint and do it at home.

I can’t wait to show you the photographs from this film.

Do you think Black and White film developing is something you would like to do?

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#darkroomfilmprocessing

5 Favourites from My First Film Roll in 2017

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First film roll of 2017

In this day and age of digital photography, you kind of get lost in the vast amount of photographs and videos we take on our mobile phones and digital cameras. I even saw an app by Iconocode called Thirty Six, that allows you to use iPhone limiting your picture taking decision to only 36 frames. Apparently, just like film, you never get to see what you have shot until you used up your 36 frames. I haven’t used the app yet to be honest. All I can say is that nothing beats holding an actual film camera, in my case a Canon AE-1, load it up with film and ‘playing’ around with it. Pressing that shutter button and pulling back the film winding lever to set up your film for the next shot just makes it more fun as you get to learn about film photography in ways you would never imagine. The greatest lesson of all, PATIENCE!

So, this year, I have made a conscious decision to shoot more film (insert another self-doubt moment here, followed by, how long can I keep it up for 😱 😬 ).

Anyway, I bought two rolls of the Kodak Colourplus for £2.50 each last year, but I got to finish one of the rolls last month. Last time I shot film, it was black and white and I am yet to see the results of that as I have to process it myself, which can be time-consuming when you haven’t got time to spare. Seeing as this was my first test roll in colour, this year at least, I thought I share some of my favourites as I am quite pleased with the results.

Photographs were taken between 30/11/2016 and 01/02/2017 with a Canon AE-1 using Kodak ColorPlus 200 film. The film was processed on 15/02/2017. Digitally scanned using the Epson Perfection V750 Pro on 22/02/2017. Editing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

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I will be sharing photographs from the second roll next week.

Which of the five is your favourite?

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#36Exposures