(Another) darkroom newbie... developing black and white?

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Don Simon, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Er... hello? (waiting for eyes to adjust to the dark)... ah there you all are.

    Ferny suggested I venture into the dank, subterranean realm of The Darkroom forum to ask about developing my own black and white film. So here I am :) By now you've probably been asked the same question enough times to wonder if you're stuck in some kind of time loop in an episode of the X-Files (yeah I could have mentioned any sci-fi series, but I'm too young for Twilight Zone references and have too much self-respect for Star Trek ones :). Perhaps you could enlist the help of a programming genius to create a bot or AI program that answers all these noob questions. Um, anyhoo...

    I have barely enough space to turn around in my house, so a "real darkroom" is out of the question. In any case I only need to develop, not enlarge (I couldn't justify buying the extra equipment and paper even if I had room for it). I do have a small cupboard (translation: closet) I could probably sit in at night without worrying about light leaks, so getting the film onto the reel and into the tank shouldn't be too much of a problem. Therefore my question is; what do I need? From memory I've come up with a list of what I used when developing before...

    : Thingy-that-gets-the-film-out-but-which-only-works-sometimes (guessing that's not the technical name name for it)
    : Film reel
    : Film tank
    : Developer
    : Fixer
    : Stop Bath
    : Measuring jug for measuring/diluting/pouring developer & fixer
    : Film clips
    : Squeegee (sp?)

    I think the list is complete, but could someone please let me know if there's something I've missed? Water for example, is tap water ok or should I be buying special distilled water, or melted snow from the Swiss Alps blessed by Tibetan monks in Mexico? Also how important is the stop bath; I never really used it before since they were always running out of it at college, but does that mean my old films will be disintegrating by now?

    And the main question is, although I've got a list of generic items, what specifically should I get? I used to use plastic reels with ball bearings, and plastic tanks. Both worked fine although the reels could be a bit fiddly. I also have no idea what brand of developer or fixer to buy, or how to store them (out of the reach of animals and small children, presumably). Finally... I've forgotten how to develop :guilty:. Well ok, I remember the absolute basics - film in tank, dilute developer, pour in developer, wait, wash, pour in fixer, wait, wash, stop bath, wash. But I don't remember the specifics, like how much developer to use and what dilution ratio, how long developing and fixing takes with different films, and what temperature to keep it at. I appreciate this is a lot of information to ask for, but maybe there are links to sites that would tell me all this?

    Finally a question for my darkroom-dwelling compatriots - where did/do you buy your equipment from in the UK? http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk seems to sell everything that's required, but how do their products and prices stack up with the competition?

    Sorry for the big post with so many questions, I should probably convert it into bitesize chunks :) But any advice at all would be very gratefully received. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Glad you stumbled in! :) But if you flip on the overhead light, we'll have to kill you. You've been warned. :mrgreen:

    As far as the specific "hot-to's", I put this link up earlier for someone - so I hope it's good: http://www.darkroomsource.net/tech-bw-film.shtml

    This site claims to have step-by-step instructions, and probably has lotsa groovy links to carry you far, far into the spectrum.....

    You can also do a search here at the forum to admire us as we babble about this stuff at length. :sillysmi:

    I use tap water from the sink. If you elect to go the monk route, keep in mind those blessings only work on Tuesdays. Again, you've been warned.

    I can't help ya with the UK places; someone else will have to weigh in here.

    Hope this helps! :)
     
  3. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Just remembered the stop bath goes in after the developer, not the fixer. Not that I was likely to bother using it anyway. Thanks for the link Terri! :D
     
  4. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You're welcome! :)

    I should really check the link out sometime; it's just the first thing that pops up when you google B&W film developing....:lol: hope it helps!
     
  5. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    I think its called a film lead retreiver or something like that...but I don't use one. I just pop off each end with a flat screwdriver and pull open the cartridge, its not like you're going to use it again anyway :)
     
  6. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    hehe true - but surely that lets the light in? I always used to "retrieve" the end of the film and cut it straight (but with rounded edges) before turning the light off; presumably you open the cartridge in the dark?
     
  7. Seveneer

    Seveneer TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    you could use a changing bag so that you don't have to sit in the cupboard. Also, I've always used a bottle opener to crack open the film canister rather than one of those film retrievers.

    I buy my supplies from various places but http://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk seem to be OK. Not the quickest to deliver but they stock most things.

    ATB,
    /Phil.
     
  8. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I just do it all in the dark. Line up everything I need on a table, turn off the lights, pop open the cartridge, cut the end off, load on to spool, but in canister. I guess there might be easier ways of doing it :)
     
  9. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! I'm actually giving some serious consideration to the idea of an actual darkroom now, mainly because even if I develop the negatives, when I give them to someone else to print I don't feel like I have control over them; I don't feel that I "made" the images in the same way. Plus I can probably make room in the shed :) I know I said I can't justify it, and I can't, but who cares? I want to :mrgreen:

    So I thought I'd post these enlarger-related questions here rather than start a new thread...
    1) Would it make sense to go for a cheap used enlarger like the Durst F60 and buy a lens separately, or should I pay more for a newer one with lens and everything included, like this Paragon: http://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/pp/Darkroom_Equipment/Enlargers_-_Black_And_White/Paterson_Paragon_35mm_Enlarger_Starter_Kit.html
    Although I have used enlargers, I have never owned one myself so don't really know what I need.
    2) Will a colour enlarger work with black and white prints, or will I have to use filters / make adjustments? I've seen a lot of used colour enlargers going cheap.
    3) If I buy the lens separately, what should I look for? Starting prices in online auctions for older enlarging lenses all seem to be incredibly low - often around £1 - is there something seriously wrong with older lenses? In particular I'm looking at Minolta Rokkor 4.5 lenses; how good are these likely to be?

    Thanks again!
     
  10. Unimaxium

    Unimaxium TPF Noob!

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    I call it a can opener. :p At least that's what we use at school. Works really well.
     
  11. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    ZaphodB: (Hitchhikers Guide? :) )
    First, forget an enlarger, just shoot 8x10 slide film and make contact prints :)
    I would recommend buying an enlarger second hand, looking around in the local papers for enlargers for sales save a ton of money. I bought mine from a retired newspaper reporter who just didn't want to trouble with listing it on ebay. Also look for reviews on that enlarger kit, it might be a good deal but do some research.
    About color enlargers, I have heard some people saying that they work better than most B&W enlargers for B&W printing so if you can get one cheap it might be a good buy even if you don't plan on doing color.
     
  12. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have a old, well used color enlarger (Omega D5) that cost a few thousand bucks when new - I got it for less than $500 with a couple lenses thrown in. It will shoot up to large format if needed. :) I find it much easier to dial in my controls than use the filters I was taught on. A little magenta to add contrast, or yellow to flatten.

    That said, I learned on a Beseler 23 III C and it was great! There are tons of used enlargers out there and the prices are really reasonable. I picked up a couple more lenses on eBay, and all my miscellaneous darkroom supplies. :thumbup: It can really be done on the cheap.
     

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