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  • Dylan Brown

Developing Film at Home: Part 1

In response to creating work from home, I decided to learn how to develop my own film. This was to avoid waiting months to get negatives back due to lockdown and tier restrictions at the time. However, after developing a few rolls, I began to feel more authorship towards the work created and the idea of my images being taken through analogue camera, developed, and scanned by hand fit closely towards the themes of my final major project, that juxtaposes human and machine ways of seeing.

The initial costs to get things started were expensive at first, but I see it as an investment and a form of money saving in the long run if you are developing a high quantity of film. All of these costs go towards the equipment and chemicals to make it developing film possible. The first bit of equipment I needed was a developing tank, I used the Paterson super system 4 tank which has two spools, supporting two rolls of 35mm or one roll 120mm film at a time. I would load the film onto the spools in my bathroom where there was no light and then securing the tank with a lid so no light could enter. Meaning I could do all the chemical process in my kitchen with the lights on.

The chemicals needed can be found in C-41 kits (for colour film). For my process, I used the Film Photography Project’s kit where the powders given will be used mixed with hot water (43.5 Celsius) to create the developer and Blix, and then room temperature water to create the stabiliser. The rest of the equipment I needed was less expensive, but still integral for the process. A thermometer, to get the exact right temperature for the chemistry as this was colour film. Several funnels to keep the chemistry separated when pouring them in and out of the tank, as any cross contamination into the developer will stop it from working and several plastic bottles (1L) to store each of the chemistry in.

It’s also important to take health and safety precautions when handling the chemistry too, such as wearing gloves and doing the process in a well-ventilated space. After buying the chemical powders and equipment, it became more cost effective due to the volume of film I have been developing, as the first batch of chemistry I created allowed me to develop several rolls over the space of a few months. As of writing this, I am currently getting ready to create a new batch of chemistry to use for developing 120mm film.

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