How To Develop Your Own Film

Knowing how to develop your own film is an important skill for anyone who loves traditional photography. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, understanding the process and the materials needed is essential to developing film successfully, rather than ruining the whole roll. Though the learning curve may be steep, once you begin to understand the process, learning to develop film can become second nature.

To develop your own film, you will need:

  • Developer
  • Fixer
  • Wetting Agent
  • Developing Tank
  • Mixing Cup
  • Running Water
  • Bottle Opener
  • Scissors
  • Dark Room
  • Stop Watch or Clock
  • Film Clips

Steps

  1. Preparation. Make sure that you have all of your supplies ready and set up an area where you can work with the chemicals without damaging your furniture, carpet, etc. Open your tank and take it apart. Rinse out the tank and all of its parts and let dry before reassembling. Read the manual for your particular tank as different brands have different parts and different steps. Get your film ready to go and find a dark room which has no light whatsoever.
  2. Load the Film. Once you have everything ready you can begin to load your film into your film tank. To load the film you will need to take the tank, the film, a pair of scissors, and a bottle opener into your dark room. Make sure that you have everything you need placed where you can find it before you close the door. When you are ready to begin you can turn off the light. Use the bottle opener to open the film canister. Place the end of your film roll into the notch your tank's reel. Once it is inserted securely, twist the the reel back and forth as you wind the film up and around the reel. Once you have rolled the entire roll of film onto the reel, place the reel back into the tank and close the lid.
  3. Rinse the Film. Fill the tank with plain water and let it sit for a specific amount of time, depending on the type of black and white film you are using. Typically you will leave the water in the tank for somewhere around one minute for 35mm film and around five minutes for 120. Pour out the water when the time is up.
  4. Develop the Film. Before you begin you will want to look up your particular film and your brand of developer. Determine the solution that you need to prepare and the amount of time that it needs to stay on your film before you begin. Once you know the proper solution for your film, mix it together and pour it into the tank. Set a stop watch or watch the clock and make sure that you pour out the developer right away. Replace the cap on your tank and agitate the contents for a ten seconds every minute. Pour out the developer when the time is up.
  5. Use Stop Bath on the Film. You can purchase stop bath chemical and use the correct formula based on your film or you can use water as a stop bath. To use water, simply fill up your tank immediately after pouring out the developer. Shake the tank and pour out the water. Repeat this two more times.
  6. Use Fixer on the Film. Prepare the fixer according to your brand's instructions and pour it into the tank. Leave the fixer into your tank for between five and ten minutes, depending on your film and your type of fixer. Agitate the tank for ten seconds every minute until the time is up. Pour out the fixer when you are finished.
  7. Rinse the Film. At this point your film can be exposed to light. Remove the top from the tank and film it halfway with clean water. Shake the tank gently to agitate the water and pour out. Repeat this as many times as necessary until your film is as clean as possible. Your film may have a purple tinge to it and that is perfectly natural.
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