Learning how to develop black and white film

film Aug 16, 2020

Developing my own film is something that I have wanted to try for a while but wasn't sure where to start. I stumbled across a professional photographer recently who holds sessions for learning how to develop film ... Steve Lovegrove at the aptly named Dark Arts Photography, as its becoming something of a forgotten art.

Steve has a simple and no nonsense approach to developing which is easy to understand. He went through all the information needed from film cameras to processing a few rolls of film by hand in the dark room.

At the end of the day we ended up with one complete and dried set of negatives which I have had a flick through with the scanner and picked out some of the ones I liked below.

Black and White Photography
These are some of the photos from the black and white film photography session I had with Steve Lovegrove from Dark Arts [https://www.darkarts.com.au/]

I have some notes that are mainly for me to remind myself when I come to trying this on my own at howm without Steve to guide me :

  • When rewinding the film, try to leave the tongue of the film out so you don't have to pop the cannister open. You can feel and hear when the tongue comes free when rewinding
  • Put the cannister in a dark bag (or in a dark room) and cut the tongue off, if there are any little sprocket holes on the very edge try to cut them off at an angle
  • Start the loading of the film into the holder by pulling it through rather than trying to push it in
  • Cut off the end when its fully loaded
  • Put the loaded holder into the tank and put a spacer on top to stop it sliding on the centre part of the tank
  • Put the light sealing lid on the tank and make sure it 'clicks' into place
  • Now its safe to take out of the bag/turn the lights on

Start the developing process .. not going to go through that here, but the things to keep in mind are:

  • Temperature of the chemicals is important, and affects the timing in the tank
  • hotter and shorter is going to have an impact on quality ... longer and slower is better (ie 20 deg C)
  • the info is all available online: https://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php
  • stock means undiluted chemicals, 1:1 is chemistry mixed with water 1:1 etc
  • For one roll you need 300ml of chemistry
  • Once the chemistry is at temperature and mixed (use a thermometer and kettle of hot water ... bucket chemistry style) pour it in the tank and put the water tight lid on
  • Agitate every 30 secs and give a few taps to remove bubble for the time recommended in the chart
  • Once the time is up, pour out the developer chemicals and pour in some water/stop bath here to stop the development process
  • Fixer takes a few minutes (2-4 mins) as well and should be agitated a bit too (not needed as much as developer)
  • Pour out (and recover the fixer) and wash the film with photo-flo ... or can just be water. This part is to try and stop streaks from water drying unevenely appearing
  • Once washed, use a soft synthetic chamois and lightly remove excess water by pulling the film over the chamois
  • Hang to dry in a dust free area