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  • Dylan Brown

Developing Film at Home: Part 2

In the previous post, I discussed the equipment I use to develop my negatives from home, this post will be looking more into the process of how I do it. Once the chemistry has been made, it usually lasts for around 6 months or up to 20 rolls depending on how you have used the chemicals, so the developer, Blix and stabiliser have to only be made once until their use has been exhausted. Each time I would go to develop I would rest the litre plastic bottles filled with the chemistry in the sink with a thermometer inside to have the temperature around 43.5 Celsius, adding hot water occasionally to maintain the temperature for around 15-20 minutes.

Whilst the chemistry was resting at the desired temperature, I would the load a roll of film around the spool inside my bathroom, the only part of the process that is vulnerable to light. Once secured in the tank, the film would then be pre-soaked by pouring water into the tank to wash it out and allow the chemistry to make better contact with the negatives. The developer would then be poured into the tank through the funnel and left for around 3-4 minutes, agitating every 30 seconds or so then poured back into its plastic bottle and sealed tightly as air can damage the chemistry over time. Using a different funnel, to avoid cross contamination. The Blix would then follow the same process, but this time for 6-7 minutes.

At this point, I would have developed negatives. They can be taken out of the tank and pointed towards light to check there are images on them. The negatives would then need to be washed with tap water to remove any of the chemistry that may be stuck on them. Once they are cleaned, the final process is to add the stabiliser which doesn’t have to be any particular temperature unlike the developer and Blix, so it can be poured into the tank to rest with the negatives for around a minute. After all this, a roll of coloured film would be developed, hung up somewhere in my kitchen to dry and ready to be scanned within the next few days.

Usually, the whole process takes me about 30 minutes to develop a roll, but at first the process was slightly intimidating. The Film Photographic Project, the company that makes the C-41 powders I was using, also has accompanying video tutorials available online. I would have these tutorials playing at the same time I was going through the process for the first couple of times until I got comfortable enough to do it by myself.

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