Developing your own films...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Axel, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. Axel

    Axel TPF Noob!

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    I have been looking up a few sites where they explain how to develop your own B&W films (35mm). Most of them explain it in a good way, but it seems pretty complicated. Somebody here told me that no dark room was needed, but all of the sites I've seen about it claim that you need to be in a dark room when opening the cassette. And then to hook it up to the spiral... Seems not easy to do unless you are very familiar with it and able to do it blind folded!

    Also, what chemicals do I need if I was to do it? What other things do I need? It would be excellent with a starter's kit for this. But I have not found anything like that on the web yet...

    I would love to do it myself, but it seems to take a little more than just 20 minutes and a strong wrist, like somebody told me.

    For example, how do you dry the negatives when they're sticky and tend to crawl up? Where do you cut them? I mean, it takes more than just a regular apartment (which is all we can afford here in the Big Apple due to rent and cost of living) as far as I can see at least...

    Suggestions welcome!
     
  2. motcon

    motcon TPF Noob!

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    nope; don't need a 'dark room' per se. just a dark room or a changing bag.

    hrm, time to eat something. bb in a few to get your other questions.
     
  3. motcon

    motcon TPF Noob!

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    bah, i'll eat at the computer....as usual.

    since you seem to be quoting some of my other posts, it makes sense for me to elaborate here.

    when i stated that you don't need a 'dark room', i meant that you don't need a physical dedicated space for processing. yes, you do indeed have to load the film onto the reel in the dark; there's no way around that. all you need to do is practice with a roll of film in the dark. you'll get the hang of it in a jiffy. everyone has their preference to the type of reel that is used, but the easiest is a plastic reel. they are easy to feed and wind.

    simple.
    - developer
    - water
    - fix
    - foto flo

    some folks still use a stop bath instead of water after development. this all depends on the developer that you use.

    items that you will need:
    - a developing tank. there are a variety of manufacturers and sizes. personally, i use a jobo 2 reel tank.
    - reels. you need enough reels to fill the tank whether you have film in them or not. in my case, two.
    - chemicals stated above
    - 2 containers for mixing. you don't need to get fancy here. simple $1 mixing cups will do fine. just be sure to mark 'developer' and 'fix' and make sure you continue to use them as such in subsequent sessions. don't take the risk of residual fix in the developer cup; trust me on this :/
    - bottle opener or strong teeth (highly recommend the former) to open the cassette.
    - scissors/razor/something to cut the film from the spool
    - thermometer. make sure it is a darkroom thermometer. i prefer analogue. it's your call.
    - negative hangers. or just unhook one loop of the shower curtain and clip it back through a sprocket hole in the neg (sounds like i've done that before, huh?) still do.

    and i meant it. have a look a this:

    [​IMG]

    top flow chart is for my rodinal, the bottom for pmk. from development to fix with pmk (and hp5 as an example), i'm done in 17.5 minutes. with the top chart and hp5, i'm done the entire cycle through wash in 24 minutes. of course there are other considerations.

    - mixing time. takes less than 30 seconds to mix one shot dev.
    - spooling time. after some short practice runs, you can get it done in under a minute.

    ok, so let's call it a half of an hour. so now you have fully exposed, wet negs.

    take the bottle cap to the foto flo and add ONE drop of foto flo and fill with water. hang film. dip fingers in foto flo solution and run down the length of the neg between your fingers ONCE to remove excess water. i've only ever once had a problem with curling. solution? a paper clip through the bottom sprocket hole. that's all it takes. use two if you must.

    after they are dry, anywhere you darned well please (between frames, of course)

    i used to live at 86th and cpw. all you need is a sink....


    if i missed anything i'll come back to edit.

    edit - add to supply list: graduates to measure chemicals. again, you don't have to buy 'graduates'. i paid $1.50 at the local drug store for a baby medicine measuring kit and i got TWO cool items out of it. one is a small graduate with a spoon like opening and a cool graduated bulb syphon. all set.
     
  4. motcon

    motcon TPF Noob!

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    one more thing; Matt will probably catch me on something that i missed before i realize that i missed it, but he probably won't catch it unless this thread is moved to the 'darkroom' area.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Looks pretty complete to me :D Everybody probably does it a little different.

    I use clothes pins to hang and weight the drying film. I've noticed that film likes to curl a bit when drying, but usually it uncurled when completely dry.

    I use stop bath to extend the life of the fixer. I mix it much, much weaker than recommended; just a few drops of stop to turn the water pale yellow.

    For washing, after using a wash aid (hypo clear, perma wash, etc...), I fill the tank about 2/3rds full of water and agitate for 30 secs, dump, refill with clean water, and repeat 5 or 6 times.

    If you could possibly make a closet light proof you would probably find it easier to load the reels there than in a changing bag. But you can do it in the changing bag, it just takes some more practice. Get a big changing bag, or box, or tent.

    It is very easy to develop your own BW film.

    Here's my usual routine:

    Mix up the chemistry to working solutions. I like to arrange them in the order of use:
    pre-wash (water)
    developer
    stop bath
    fixer
    rinse (water)
    wash aid
    photo flo
    They all need to be the same temp, usually around 68F. To get chems all to the same temp (sometimes the ones that have been sitting around in bottles are warmer or colder than freshly mixed chems) put them in their containers (I use tupperware, like Motcon said, always use the same one for dev, fix, etc...), and put them all into a plastic tub/basin filled about an inch or two with the proper temp water. By the time you are done loading the film, they will have all stabilized to the saem temp.

    Load the film. Practice first with an expendable roll, and practice in the dark or with your eyes closed. It does no good to practice using your eyes. Hang onto the practice roll for warming up next time.

    Pre-wet: agitate for 30 sec to a min, thump the tank to dislodge any air bubbles

    Developer: the usual recommended agitation for smaller tanks is agitate for the 1st 30 sec, and then 5 sec each 30 sec there after. I prefer to use a larger tank; I fill it all the way with reels, but only the bottom 1/2 or 2/3rds of the reels have film on them. Then I use only enough developer to cover the loaded reels. I invert the tank once every minute. The airspace at the top allows the developer to mix up a lot better than in a full tank. But that's just my style. More agitation increases contrast, less agitation decreases contrast. So if you are having problems one way or the other you can adjust your style.

    Weak stop bath: agitate for 30 sec

    Fixer: agitate for twice the clearing time. Dip the film leader (that you snipped off to load the reels) in the fixer, and start timing. The clearing time is how long it takes the film to go clear. Once your film is fixed you don't have to keep in in the dark anymore if you want to take the lid off.

    Rinse with water: I usually agitate for about 30 sec or a min. Remember that your rinse and wash water still needs to be the same temp as the rest of the chems.

    Hypo clear: agitate for 30 sec

    Wash: at least 6 water changes, agitate for 30+ sec each

    Photo flo: agitate for 30 sec, squeegee with fingers, and hang to dry.
     

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