How to develop your own B&W photos


StreetShooter

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#1
For many nights I lay awake tossing and turning and wondering how I could call myself "Streetshooter" yet not develop my own B&W negatives. But I could not bear the thought of hours spent messing with smelly chemicals, and adjusting temperature with ice cubes, and sitting around stirring a tank for 10-20 minutes, when I could be surfing the net or out taking photos instead.

Then I came across the thread in Offstone about developing at room temperature, and what is now known as "stand developing", which is basically developing without agitating the tank. OK now it looked feasible.

Therefore in the grand surgical tradition of "See one, Do one, Teach one" which applies to appendicectomies and all other major operations, I am going to teach my method of developing negatives. Feel free to change the timings and dilutions and experiment. And post your results!

The standard textbook method of developing a negative is:

1. Add Developer (mixed at a certain concentration), keep temperature constant at 20 deg C, and agitate for 5 secs every minute for xx minutes.

2. Add Stop Bath (dilute acetic acid) to stop the development process.

3. Add Fixer to "fix" the film so that light will no longer affect the film.

4. Optionally soak in Hypo Clearing Agent (HCA) which will remove all traces of Fixer and shorten the washing time.

5. Wash the negatives, optionally adding a Wetting Agent as the last step to make sure the negatives dry evenly and do not leave water stains.

6. Dry the negatives.

Sounds complicated, right? The Offstone method is a little simpler. Develop at room temperature, using low concentration and longer timing, no need to agitate. Fix, wash and dry. That's it.
 

StreetShooter

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#2
What do you need?

First, a film picker. This will let you take out the film leader from the film canister. $18 from Ruby Photo, and the uncle there will show you how to use it:




Now, you take the film leader, and insert it into the developing reel, which will space out the film so that all the surfaces are exposed to the chemical developer.



You must do this in the dark (either in a blacked-out room or using a dark-bag, which is a light-proof bag that allows you to put your hands inside). Alternatively, you can insert only the first part of the film in the light (leaving the rest of the film still inside the film canister), then go into the dark room to do the next step, which is to load all the film onto the spiral reel. This is how you do it:



OK, just kidding. You simply twist the reels to and fro and the film will be advanced onto the reel. Easier to see and do than to explain it. Again, uncle at Ruby will show you. The developing tank comes with 2 reels, only $20. The reels can also be adjusted to develop 120 format film.

 

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StreetShooter

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#3
Once all the film has been loaded onto the reel, you can put it into the developing tank as shown. There's a small clip to hold it in place (not shown).



Now screw on the cover of the developing tank, and you can come out of the dark room or take it out of the dark bag.



Notice there's a funnel in the centre (for you to pour in your solutions) and holes at the side of the funnel (for you to pour out your solutions).
 

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StreetShooter

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#4
Now here's the fun part where you get to mix chemicals, like the Mad Scientist Club.

First you use a syringe and draw out the appropriate amount of HC-110 developer (you can use other developers of course, but the concentrations will be different). I use only 5 ml of it. If you are using the powder or liquid preparations, you may need a measuring jug or cylinder to measure out the amounts.



Then squirt it into your mixing container, and add water. I use a 500ml bottle of mineral water (so that I know it's 500 ml).



Stir the mixture thoroughly, then pour it into the developing tank.



Knock the tank against the sink a couple of times to dislodge air bubbles trapped on the negatives. Then agitate for 10 seconds, using the stirrer stick that comes with the development tank and fits into the funnel. Then set your timer (note the brand loyalty) and wait. For Tri-X 400 exposed at ISO 1600, that would be about 20 minutes. Try 12 minutes for ISO 400, and 16 minutes for ISO 800.

 

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StreetShooter

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#5
Once the timer goes off, you can pour away your developer into the sink.



Now put the tank under the tap and just add water. This is the Stop Bath, which will stop further development. I usually leave it for 1 minute.

Next I add the Fixer, which I have mixed and kept in a 1.5 litre Coke bottle.



Try to remember removing the bottle cap! The fixer is re-useable. After leaving for about 5 minutes (the timing is not critical, but needs to be at least 3 minutes), you can pour it back into the bottle using a 70 cent funnel.



You can rinse with water after this. I use HCA to shorten the washing time. The procedure is the same as the above 2 steps - pour in HCA, leave for 5 minutes, pour back into the bottle.

Now unscrew the lid of your developing tank. I wash the negatives by filling the tank with water, and pumping the reel up and down to force water to flow against the surface of the negatives. I think this is more efficient and uses much less water than running it continuously. I do this about 4 to 5 times.

 

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StreetShooter

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#6
On the final rinse, I add a few drops of Wetting Agent. Alternatively you can use Mama Lemon dishwashing detergent - it apparently works just as well. The wetting agent ensures even wetting and drying of the negatives.

Now you can open up the reel to take your negatives out to dry. The actual roll of negatives is much longer than this, of course:



I hang it up with a clip, and use my fingers to "squeegee" the water off the negatives:



Now leave them to dry for a couple of hours, and you're ready to cut and scan them.

 

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Larry

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#7
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

well done. i cracked up at your little all-black "darkroom" though. :D

someone make this a stickie!!!
 

Darren

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#8
Thread stuck. Good stuff here ...
 

patch17

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#12
thank you for a very informative piece streetshooter.

just a couple of questions:

- once the film has been loaded into the developing tank, do you still need to keep it in a darkroom? I mean, do the holes for letting out the chemicals also let light in?

- i noticed that the developing tank can hold more than 1 roll of film, will you have to vary the amount of you chemicals accordingly if you're developing more than 1 roll?

TIA
 

StreetShooter

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#13
patch17 said:
thank you for a very informative piece streetshooter.

just a couple of questions:

- once the film has been loaded into the developing tank, do you still need to keep it in a darkroom? I mean, do the holes for letting out the chemicals also let light in?

- i noticed that the developing tank can hold more than 1 roll of film, will you have to vary the amount of you chemicals accordingly if you're developing more than 1 roll?

TIA
Once the film is in the light-proof tank and the top has been screwed on, you can do everything else in the light. The tank is black, and the holes lead to channels which turn 180 degrees, so no light is let in (light travels in straight lines mah).

Yes, forgot to mention that 500ml is for only one roll. For two rolls, double the amount. Thanks for pointing that out. In fact, for 120 format film, you need at least 750ml (I use 1000ml).

The fun is in experimenting with different concentrations and timings of developer (and temperature, if you are so inclined). The rest of the steps remain quite standard.
 

Lennier

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Feb 26, 2002
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#15
Some tanks require only 600ml 2 rolls so you could probably survive on 400ml for 1 roll. If you're developing 1 roll, do remember to put the 2nd empty reel in as well. The empty reel will of course be on top of the reel with film.

An excellent website containing many developing times is www.digitaltruth.com
 

Lennier

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Feb 26, 2002
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#16
I haven't tried developing b&w negatives at room temp, but IMO it isn't too difficult or messy to achieve the exact temps required for developing.

Here's what I do for the developer.

It's usually cold due to refridgeration (<20 degrees) but when its mixed with tap water (usually at 1+2 ratio) the final temp is around 25-27 degrees. Say I'm developing 2 rolls, that's 600ml of 1+2 developer. I chuck in 200ml of developer, and top it up to about 520ml. Use a digital thermometer to measure the temp of the mixture. Chuck in 2-3 ice cubes and stir. Pluck those cubes out when you reach your desired temp. Whole process takes less than 3 minutes when you're used to it.

Same thing can be done for stop bath and fixer although you can afford to be much less strict on the amount and exact temp of these 2 solutions.
 

greg

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Jul 24, 2002
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#19
...commendable effort SS! A simple tip, don't wear your best Gucci shirt and Valentino tie (judging from SS's pic) when you develop a roll... Enjoy!
 

StreetShooter

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#20
greg said:
...commendable effort SS! A simple tip, don't wear your best Gucci shirt and Valentino tie (judging from SS's pic) when you develop a roll... Enjoy!
Sorry to disappoint you. Giordano jeans and belt, some cheap $15 shirt on sale at Isetan.

I prefer spending my money on photography!
 

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