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Developing black and white film at home

If you shoot a lot of film, at some point you will not only want to take pictures, but also to develop your own film at home. What kind of film is possible to develop at home? And how to do it? With what tools?

Let's find out.

First of all, you should understand that it's best to develop black and white film at home. It's easy enough with the proper tools. But it's extremely difficult to develop color film and even more so slide film outside the laboratory. Not even every laboratory is able to process slide film. The newbies usually do not take up color, and among people with great experience, not everyone will dare to do it.

That's why we are going to focus on the development of black and white film at home. For it, we need a certain set of tools and chemistry.

As for chemicals, you will need: 1) developer, 2) fixer.

The tools are as follows: 1) a tank for development of photographic film;

2) photothermometer;

3) a spatula for stirring the solution

4) tanks for further storage of solutions;

5) vessel for mixing of chemistry;

6) tongs to remove moisture and clothespins to dry the film;

7) scales;

8) distilled water or water purified with a paper filter.

You also need a timer, you can use it on your phone.

The whole process of getting an image on film must necessarily take place in dark conditions. Ideally, in a dark room, but such conditions are sometimes difficult to arrange at home. There are options: you can lock yourself in the bathroom, for example, but remember that no light should enter the room. Another way is to use a buttoned up jacket, but you need to make sure that the light does not get inside. You can also buy a special photomask (they are usually used in photo labs), if you need it: for example, if you develop quite often at home, or if you develop a lot at once.

There are different kinds of film development tanks. Smaller ones like the AP Compact mini are good for a single 35mm film. There are versatile options such as: AP Classic or Paterson. These can hold either one 120 film or two 35mm films. Filling the film in these tanks is pretty easy, no special efforts are needed, but you still need some skill. Therefore, before you charge the first undeveloped film, it is better to try to charge the already ruined photographic material with a reel. After all, you have to work blindly - by touch or in complete darkness - and it's a good idea to eliminate possible pitfalls beforehand.

You'll need measuring cups to measure out the right amount of chemicals. You can also use a kitchen measuring cup, which you probably have, but remember that you can't use it for food later on. Therefore, it might be better to buy a special beaker: it has a narrow shape and is easier to use and work with liquids. You can buy a special spatula or again use improvised means for mixing solutions. A vessel for the solution is needed with a neck, such as this.

The development temperature is the most important factor in the whole process of processing of any photographic film, therefore a photothermometer is a necessary thing. A timer is also very important, as any error in timing can be very damaging.

Immediately before developing, you need to prepare all the tools and mix the solution in advance. The development process is the same for 35mm and 120mm black and white film. The solutions are prepared according to their instructions, that's why it is so important to study all instructions before the process. Also on the inside of any film package is the necessary information about how much and how much consistency of the chemicals you need. Here we also use a thermometer, as the temperature of the developer solution for the black and white process should be 20 degrees (this is the standard). The necessary amount of fixer is also prepared in advance.

Brief description of the process is as follows. Before we pour developer into the tank we start timer. Then we gently pour developer into the tank and periodically turn the handle on the top part of the tank. Keep in mind that too intensive movements lead to the bad result and it is not recommended to shake the tank. After expiration of developer time drain developer and fill in water for washing, twist the knob on the tank several times and drain the water. Next comes the fixation process. We pour fixer into the tank and twist the knob on the tank several times a minute. The fixative can be used more than once, so it can be poured into some container. It is better to store it in a cupboard and make sure it is out of the reach of children!

The film is developed and the image is fixed, so we can open the tank. It is necessary to wash the film again, keep it under running cold water for not more than 7 minutes. The next step is drying. The film is dried completely for about two hours, preferably in a room without windows (without drafts). But before that, it is necessary to remove excess water droplets from it. To do this, you can use special tongs for the film or wipe it with a suede cloth. The film can be hung on clothespins.

That's - in general - how the process of developing black-and-white film looks like at home. It is better to prepare solutions in advance and according to the instructions on the package. Most often native chemistry is chosen for the film, i.e. the chemistry of the same brand. What developer is necessary for the concrete film is indicated on the back side of cardboard package of each reel, therefore do not throw away the cardboard. It's better to use the developer recommended by the manufacturer, because different developers give different results: the developer affects the grain structure, and therefore the final image. This is a big field for experimentation, but the first time it is better not to deviate from the film manufacturer's recommendations.

As you can see, the process of developing film at home is not that complicated, but it does require practice. In any case, it is a lot of fun! We wish you lots of fun experiments and great shots!

If you are not yet confident in your abilities, you can bring your film for development and scanning to us.