First attempt at DIY Film Developing (C41)

Peeb

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Exciting! Finally got up the courage to buy a cinestill C41 kit and take a go at it. A few surprisingly good shots, and a lot of surprisingly bad shots. Any input on how I might avoid the bad ones would be great. Here are a few, with my thoughts:

1. Fall colors
img018.jpg


I think that the mess on the bottom of the frame was abuse to the roll that I cause in trying to load my first spool in a dark bag.

2. What happened to the sky in this one:
img019.jpg


Was this an agitation error or something?

3. Dirty flower:
img024.jpg


Maybe dirt in the air got on the negative? Lots of specks on several, like this one.

4. Photo of a photo (first one):
img033.jpg

Photo I took and now hanging over fireplace. What causes the grunge to our left? Are those sprocket marks on the bottom?

6. Are you kidding me? My best shot was a stinking coffee pot?
img041.jpg

LOL. At least it was in focus.

7. Another pic of a pic (second one):
img037.jpg


Supermoon from 2016, captured in my kitchen (rented a 600mm lens to get some nice compression). What is the grunge at the top??


Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'll post my favorite shot (nice pup portrait) in the 'favorite shot' thread.
 

jcdeboever

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I think you did pretty good for your first time. Dust is always a challenge. I always blow out the camera box prior to loading film. I also run my hand across the pressure plate to make sure it's smooth. I blow down my scanner as well. I always use isopropyl alcohol on my negatives prior to scanning, that pretty much makes for a real clean scan. I put about a quarter size wet spot towards the top of a clean micro fiber towel that has been shaken out. I lightly pinch the negative, wait a couple seconds for it to flash, then wipe it dry with the same pinch on the length of the negative. This helps a lot for what it's worth. It will also flatten b & w negatives, not as much on c41 color.

It takes a some practice to get what you want from film. I find when shooting, inspecting the edges of the frame is very helpful. If you have been shooting a lot with a non 100% viewfinder, its gonna take some rolls because what you see with the F is what will be on the frame. Focusing takes practice if shooting wide open. I don't care for the photomic meters, I like to sunny 16 or use a small hand held meter.

Not sure on that mark on the bottom, maybe the roller ball needs to be cleaned on the reel? Inspect the take up side in the camera to rule that out.

Temps are important, keep them at 102 with dev, and blix stage. I use the unicolor powder kit because its readily available to me. I save up 8 to ten rolls then process them all in one session, one tank at a time. I then recycle the chemicals at the store I buy the kit from. They even let me rinse my bottles. I have not had good luck processing over ten rolls with a kit. I am kind of OCD about processing, and tried to stretch the kit and found it's a gamble on consistent results. People post longer dev times etc., not worth it for me as I have seen the results at the 11th and 12th, 13 and 14th rolls... even with extending the times. Not good results so I stick to my 10 roll limit, kit says 8 but I am doing it in one session with fresh chemicals and with my softened well water, 10 is the magic number. I've tried distilled water and it's no different. I actually prefer the well water because I don't see the benefit of distilled in my situation. Now my buddy is on city water and distilled makes a huge difference in the same kit and process. I am not a scientist and don't understand that but its noticable.

Don't ever leave your shutter cocked after a shoot, waste a frame if you have to, it will mess up the tension on the shutter springs and effect timings.

Slow down, have fun. Think about the whole taking process. To me, that's the most enjoyable part. It has even transferred to my digital. It takes time and practice to get methodical and intentional. Stick with one lens for a while, that will help in the long run, trust me. Knowing that focal length is liberating.
 

jcdeboever

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I forgot to mention, pre wash your film for about a minute in 102° f water. This really makes for a nice firm negative. I also give it a couple gentle turns. That bucket, heater, and bottles I posted in another thread make it real nice. I doubt there is much issue with pouring it down the drain, I just don't because it is easy for me to recycle locally, on my way home from work.

Find a film stock you like and stick with it. I would stock up on it by the end of the year as I read Kodak is raising prices again in January, 17 to 20%. I like Kodak Ultramax 400 a lot...as well as Portra 400. I will stock up on both of those, more so Ultramax. As far as B & W 135, I've exhausted all my efforts to like HP5+ and at the end of it all, its TriX all the way for me. I buy it by the 100ft roll. 120, I like Ilford FP4, TriX, and Portra 400. The Lomography 400 color is good but not as consistent or forgiving as Portra 400. Portra is so nice in this format, hard to beat. I like FP4 in my my Holga.
 

smithdan

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Excellent advice from jc. Only tried colour once with a Tetinal kit and found pretty much the same results. Temperature control and like he mentioned preheating the film spool and tank necessary. I too find that the chemistry got tired at 8 - 10 rolls dispite the claims of the store guy. Scratches dirt and dust are problems but no more than doing BW, just be aware and careful. Wish that the chemistry had at least a 2 - 3 week shelf life, mine was dead after 2 days.
 
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Excellent advice from jc. Only tried colour once with a Tetinal kit and found pretty much the same results. Temperature control and like he mentioned preheating the film spool and tank necessary. I too find that the chemistry got tired at 8 - 10 rolls dispite the claims of the store guy. Scratches dirt and dust are problems but no more than doing BW, just be aware and careful. Wish that the chemistry had at least a 2 - 3 week shelf life, mine was dead after 2 days.
Wow! Dead that fast?? Assumed I might have a couple of weeks also.
 

smithdan

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Excellent advice from jc. Only tried colour once with a Tetinal kit and found pretty much the same results. Temperature control and like he mentioned preheating the film spool and tank necessary. I too find that the chemistry got tired at 8 - 10 rolls dispite the claims of the store guy. Scratches dirt and dust are problems but no more than doing BW, just be aware and careful. Wish that the chemistry had at least a 2 - 3 week shelf life, mine was dead after 2 days.
Wow! Dead that fast?? Assumed I might have a couple of weeks also.

Shooting, saving up 10 rolls then having to process all at once is a project. I'm a dark bag - kitchen sink guy so that ties up an otherwise needed space for much of the day. Looking thru B&H this morning found a listing for a kit offering better shelf life if stored properly but still a matter of a few weeks.
 
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Another one from same roll, but 'cleaned up' and cropped:
img050_DxO900.jpg


Maybe a little too much negative space above the subject, but not bad.
 
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Here's a comment I found, courtesy of Dr. Google: "I've had a couple of twist type tanks that I had problems with uneven development. I would get more development along the edges near the sprocket holes and less near the middle. So I went back to inversion and have never had a problem since. Maybe I just wasn't doing it thoroughly enough, but I didn't see any reason to possibly waste more rolls of film troubleshooting the procedure when I knew one definite way to fix it."

I didn't do any inversion (all twisting). Could that explain some of the odd artifacts? See pic 7 above (sprocket-looking dark spots on the ceiling), and along the bottom of pic 4 (buffalo).
 

smithdan

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I use twisty agitation tanks as well, old agfa/gaf ones. They aren't liquid sealed so inversion is out. Seen uneven development and fixing along the edges were he film touches the reels but never artifacts as shown on the ceiling over your fireplace or in the kitchen shot. Agree that they are in part caused by the sprocket holes. If possible, inversion would be much better. Just a guess, but twisting might be forcing one of the chemistry steps unevenly through the holes to the film across in the adjacent spiral. Like I mentioned before, one encounter with c41 processing certainly doesn't make me an expert..
 
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Just ran a second batch. I used inversion rather than twisty agitation. I'm a little nervous that I accidentally rolled the film with the emulsion facing outwards instead of inwards, but there do appear to be images on the processed film! Drying now.
 

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