I’ve started developing my own black and white film recently, so thought i’d post up some info on the process i’ve found.
After doing a bit of research i noticed that there seems to be a huge range of options on what is necessary or not necessary, right way to do things, wrong way to do things, whats better or worse, etc… You know, the usual shit that photographers seem to talk about, such an opinionated bunch
The more i researched, the more i got confused by the multitude of information and options available. I wasnt really getting anywhere so decided to just simplify things and give it a go.
The 3 basic steps to developing negatives are:
Now there seems to be endless options for each step, all with strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to keep things simple, so thought i’d stick with Rodinal as a developer which is the oldest commercial developer in existence, so i thought there would be alot of info around for it. Next is the stop bath which has another set of options. Many people swear by using a method that doesnt contain any chemicals, i chose to go with an Ilford stop solution instead as it will use less water. Then theres the fixer with another range of options but i kept things simple and went with Ilford again.
After these 3 processes you have a couple more options too. A Hypo-Clearing Agent which cuts down washing time considerably (instead of using 30 minutes you use 7 for example). Then you have other stuff like Photoflo which is the very last step before drying. It will coat the film and help prevent uneven drying and water marks etc. None of these are necessary, but the Hypo bath is a pretty good idea.
After you’ve completed the above steps, all you need to do is hang the film to dry. If you dont have a dedicated dryer, its recommended by many to let the film dry overnight. Its hard waiting that long though, especially when its your first roll!
Here are a few links which give some more info on the development process :
Here is a link to a site with a huge amount of specific development times and formulas :
Below is a picture of my gear at the moment. In addition to this i have a dust proof folder to store negatives in, plus 3 more measuring jugs.
In the photo you can see the chemicals, the developing tank (with 2 reels inside), the changing bag, thermometer, film clips, measuring syringe, cylinder measuring graduate, and a $2 shop clock.
The chemicals are cheap, and everything else is reused, so after the inital purchase the only things you’re spending money on is the film. At the moment i’m using the Rodinal at 1:50 for 13 minutes for 100ISO film, so at 6ml per roll, the 500ml bottle will last ages.
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