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film processing

Published March 16th, 2012

i finally got my hands on some Ilford film developing chemicals.. the bare basics: developer and fixer. Ilfosol 3 and Rapid Fixer, in case ur wondering. i also got myself an AP Compact developing tank, and a Delta 1 darkroom thermometer. thats pretty much it, and i think thats quite a complete (although basic) darkroom kit. i spent quite a while today practicing loading the developing tank with a couple of cheap film rolls that i had bought for that purpose - it can be a bit fiddly, and even harder when u try doing it in the dark.. but the AP Compact tank and its reels are very well designed, and it makes the whole process much easier. after loading two rolls of film, a few times each, im already pretty comfortable with the setup and feeling confident about doing the real thing as soon as i finish the couple of rolls that are currently in my two cameras

if ur not sure wat these things do, i'll try to break it down - not that i have much experience, but i HAVE read up quite a lot about this stuff!

the developing tank: so u really need one of these. no way around it. this tank is wat keeps ur film sealed in a light-proof environment, as well as keeping an opening for u to pour in the chemicals. the only part of this process where u need a completely dark room is when u remove the film from the film canister, and load it into the developing tank. after this, its completely light proof,and u can turn on the lights for the rest of the work (this part should only take about 2 or 3min). if u've seen movies where people process film in a darkroom with a red safety light, its not - that is when making prints from negatives. any form of light, even red or green or watever, will destroy ur film if its not developed. movies show this process coz they cant really film in the dark, can they?!

the thermometer is used to measure the temperature (obviously) of the chemicals for b/w processing, ur supposed to try to keep ur film at 20C - however, in b/w processing, its not that 'strict' so u can go +/- a few degrees (unlike color processing, where u have to be spot on) - but a thermometer is quite a necessary piece of equipment

film developer is the main chemical u need, it is wat 'develops' the film. after usually pre-soaking the film in the tank with water, developer is the first to go in, and stays in the longest. the time depends on the chemical, the dilution, the film brand/type/speed etc. it can vary from 5-20min i believe (maybe even longer)

stop bath - after the developer is done, a stop bath is usually poured in next, to 'stop' the develper from reacting with the film. a stop bath stops the developer immediately, and its preferred by experts, but many use plain water instead. thats wat i plan on doing. water is a bit slower at stopping the developer, but if u rememebr to pour it in a few seconds earlier, it should stop the developer in time

fixer - this is the second chemical that u cant do with out. once the development has been stopped, the film needs to be 'fixed', so that it is not sensitive to light, so it can be taken out of the tank afterwards. the fixing process is shorter, usually around 3-5min, and the temperature of the fixer is not as important as the developer temp.. although its great if u can maintain 20C for fixer too. if u find the film hasnt been fixed fully, u can always put it back in the tank and pour in more fixer til its done right

final wash and wetting agent - another optional chemical is the wetting agent. for the final rinsing of the film, most people like to use a couple of drops of wetting agent. wat this does it is 'softens' the water, so that the final drying process of the film is faster, and there will be no spots or any form of residue left on ur negatives afterwards. i say this is optional, coz there are alternatives: many people use distilled water for this process. some like to add wetting agent to distilled water to be doubly sure. some just pour a drop of dish washing liquid into ordinary water (or distilled water).

the main thing is to wipe the film properly once its out of the tank.. with a squeegee/clean sponge/microfiber cloth. then hang it out and dry. thats pretty much it. hang it to dry in a damp area if possible, to keep it dust-free (dust is incredibly annoying when working with negs) - there are weighted film clips that u can buy..hanging one on the bottom will 'stretch' the film and make it easier to cut into strips.. once its dry, cut it up to strips and scan :D

i hope it goes off as simply as i explained it. it should. i'll update once my first results are in!


ilford chemicals

ilford ifosol 3 and ilford rapid fixer

  • March 16th, 2012
  • Vignette for Android

the developing tank

by AP Compact

  • March 16th, 2012
  • Vignette for Android

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Diana Tula  over 5 years ago

I used to love to do this! There is nothing like getting your film into the spool in pitch black darkness. Thanks fro sharing this post, it reminded me of how much I loved analog photography! <333

Heshan Jayakody  over 5 years ago

cheers! im just getting into this stuff and im finding it really interesting. i hope this beautiful art doesnt die out any time soon. its already getting really hard finding good film and developing stuff. thanks for reading! :)