Photography

At Home Black and White Film Processing

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One of the many things I love about black and white film is that you can process (develop) the film at home in your kitchen or anywhere you have access to a sink.  The following steps detail the way I process my film, I find that this system works well. If you research a bit more on the internet, you will find there are additional steps and chemicals you can add or remove depending on the look you want to achieve.  What I like about this system is it keeps my chemical use to a minimum and the supplies do not require a lot of storage space nor are they overly expensive. 

Here is my equipment and chemical list. The initial cost is around $200 not including film. You can find everything you need at B&H Photo as well as most of it on Amazon.

Equipment

  1. Paterson Changing Bag Use this to load the film into the processing tank if you do not have access to a photography darkroom.

  2. Paterson Universal Tank with Two Reels Light tight film processing tank

  3. Delta 1 6" Precision Darkroom Thermometer Temperature is extremely important for developer time. 

  4. Delta 1 Datatainer Chemical Storage Bottle These containers are made to store photographic chemicals and to keep light out. You need one for developer and one fixer.

  5. Kaiser Graduated Beaker

  6. Film Squeegee

Chemicals

  1. Developer- Kodak D-76.  It is a powder- one container makes 1 gal. 

  2. Fixer-  Photographers' Formulary TF-4 Archival Rapid Fix - one container makes 1 gal.

  3. Kodak Photo-Flo it helps to speed up drying and cuts down on water spots. 

To time everything I use an app called The Massive Dev Chart.(Android and IOS) It is not a free app but it is well worth the cost because one of the trickiest aspects of processing your own film is timing.  Simply select your film and developer type from the scroll down menu and it tells you the processing time. It gives you general timing for stop bath, fixer, and final wash but you can customize the settings.   For the fixer, check the instructions on the back of the bottle for the timing.

 Process

Image 1: Agitation

Image 1: Agitation

  1. Load the film onto the reel in the changing bag

  2. Pre rinse the film for 1 min in running water

  3. Develop with developer. I use Kodak D-76, the time and temp depends on the film.

    1. Agitate (See Image 1) for the first min and then 5-6 times every 30 sec.  When done after each agitation session, give the tank a little knock to release any air bubbles. 

  4. Stop Bath for 1 min in running water

  5. Fixer for 4 min

    1. Agitate for the first min and then 5-6 times every 30 sec.   When done after each agitation session, give the tank a little knock to release any air bubbles. 

  6. Finial rinse 10 min in running water. It is now safe to open the film tank.

  7. Photo Flo 30 sec.

    1. Agitate by dunking the film reel in and out of the fluid 5-6 times.

  8. Hang to dry. If you decide to use a squeegee do it very light.

Black and White Film Developing Tips

1. The best way to open a 35mm film can is with a bottle opener.  Open it on the end without the spool sticking out. Again this need to be done in a changing bag or a  photography darkroom.  Loading the film on the spool is the hardest part, I highly recommend you destroy a roll of unexposed film and practice outside of the bag first, so you can master the process and see how it works before trying it blind. 

2. The film tank Paterson Universal tank comes with 2 reels and can process, two 35mm rolls at one time or one of 120 film or 220 film at a time.  The bottom of the tank will tell you how much chemicals you need depending on what your processing.

 

At home film processing is fun and very easy to do after you get the hang of it.  I hope this post helps you get started, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!