Black and White Photo Feed: The Best B&W Online!

Leave a Comment!

Creedence Brownwater Revival
How To Develop Black and White Film At Home Like A Pro
(Part 2)

You've successfully rolled your film onto a reel in total darkness. Now, it's all about the chemistry.

By Mason Resnick

Black and White Film Processing Buying Guide: Everything You Need for Steps 4-7

Film Developer: For first-timers, I recommend Kodak D-76. It's fine-grain general-purpose developer. There are more specialized developers, and I promise a more detailed guide in the near future but you really can't go wrong with D-76.

Tip: There is one developer additive no darkroom should be without: Sodium Sulfite. Add a pinch of this powder to your mix to increase the dynamic range of your negatives.

Stop Bath (optional): It's optional, but if you are doing mission-critical work you'll need something like Kodak Indicator Stop Bath, which stops development immediately; running plain water through the tank will work as well, but more gradually.

Fixer: Fixes the image so it won't fade. For film, it's better to use a fixer formula with hardener, such as Kodak Kodafix, which will protect your negatives against damage.

At least three chemical containers: Brown plastic containers such as the 64-ounce Chem-Seal to store your liquid mixes. Get a bunch, and a Sharpie to mark what goes in what.

A graduate: You will need several different sized graduates to measure out and mix your quantities. Fortunately, Adorama sells a set of 10, which should do the job for almost any situation.

A stirrer: Something to make sure your chemicals are thoroughly dissolved. Otherwise, you risk getting uneven development. Yeah, a Paterson Chemical Stirrer will do.

A funnel: Because otherwise, you might miss and make a mess when you mix. The Paterson 4.25-inch funnel is a good choice.

A timer: Each step of the process is timed. I recommend the old darkroom standard, a Gralab 300 timer.

A thermometer: Since chemical temperature is almost as important as timing, get an accurate thermometer. A simple analog model such as the Adorama Dial Analog thermometer will do just fine.

A sink: You need a water and drainage source. The simple way is to make do with whatever sink is already there, and add a rinse tray. If you really want to go all-out, you can order and install a full stainless steel sink. These can range from around $600 to around $1,500 , not including stands, splashboards and of course, installation, for which you'll need a plumber. Can't afford it? Use deep trays and think like McGuyver.

Note: Worried about excess effluent going into the sewage system? Don't. The amount of waste produced in a typical darkroom session is minuscule and falls well within most municipalities' waste disposal regulations. But don't take my word for it. Call your town's water and sewage department and ask if it's OK to allow darkroom chemicals down the drain. They will probably say it's OK.

How to Develop A Roll of Black-and-White Film, steps 4-7

Step 4: Make sure the temperature of the chemicals (especially the soup) is carefully controlled. Development time is directly affected by two things: the speed of the film and the temperature of the developer. Most manufacturers suggest 68-70 degrees as the ideal temperature for processing, although you can develop at slightly higher and lower temperatures as long as you make adjustments (the exact times vary from brand to brand, but each company gives recommended processing times and temps on the packaging.)

Tip: Most film is processed between 65 and 75 degrees. Higher temperatures could lead to "reticulation", which gives film a coarse, overly-grainy appearance. This can be an interesting effect to play with, but if not if you're trying to get the best negative possible.

Step 5: Pour developer into the open part of the sealed film tank, known as the pour spout, and cover it. Do not open the tank itself! To keep fresh chemical on the film surface, agitation is essential throughout the process. To agitate, briefly turn the tank upside down once a minute. When it is upright again, tap it several times against your work surface to remove any air bubbles that might form on the film during agitation. (If you don't, the bubbles will leave dark under-developed areas on your negatives). Develop film for the time recommended on the packaging. When done, take the lid off the tank's pour spout and pour it out (either back into a container for re-use or into the sink if only one use is recommended).

Step 6: Pour running water into the pour spout for one minute to stop development. Alternatively, you can mix a small amount of glacial Acetic Acid with water (a 1:30 ratio) and let the film sit in that for 30 seconds to wash off the developer. Either method is known as "stop bath."

Step 7: Now it is time to fix the image so you can view it in normal light. Be sure to use a fixer with hardener, since that will help protect the negative from getting easily scratched. Fixing takes 5-10 minutes, depending on if you used a normal or rapid fixer. At the end of the fixing time, you could actually inspect the negatives although you'll probably want to wait until everything is finished.

It's time to turn on the lights and see what's developed!

1 | 2 | 3

Leave a comment!

But first, you need this:
8 35mm ISO 400 Black & White Films Compared!

The right formula:
7 Top Black and White Film Developers
This is an ad: