Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Film Development, Part 3: Black and White Film

Thanks for coming back for Part 3 of my film development series. Here is Part 1 and Part 2 where I talked about loading your tank and mixing the necessary chemicals.

Developing film is the best and most fun part about being a photographer. You'll probably get this response from most photographers who started their career with film. The ones who don't, probably never developed black and white or bought into all of the false digital is better than film propaganda.  But this isn't about what is better than what. This is about a fun hands on project that everybody should try at least once, at least if you're a casual photographer.

So in Part 1, I showed you how to load your tank. What you should do first is to do a pre-wash of your film in the tank. Now if you have a Paterson tank, and some of the stainless steel tanks, make sure to check that your lid is secure at all times. It tends to loosen up during some of the steps and can ruin your film if even the smallest bit of light hits it. To pre-wash your film, just stick it under the faucet and let it fill up, sit for a few seconds and then dump it. You can do this two to three times or however much you fancy. 

Next, you need to pour your developer into your graduated cylinder. Depending on how much control you want, you can dilute your developer to give you a longer time. But for this guide, dilute your developer with a 1 to 1 ratio. So if you are running 35mm film, pour in 6 oz of XTOL developer and 6 oz of water. Unfortunately, unlike color film, there isn't any standard development time for black and white film. This website Massive Development Chart, will give you the amount of time for a given film and developer combo. I primarily use Ilford HP5+ so at a 1:1 ratio, my development time is 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

After you have poured the developer and water into the graduated cylinder, you need to get the temperature to 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Film is also temperature sensitive. if you  raise the temperature any higher, the film will develop faster, colder the slower. So get it as close to 20/68 degrees as possible. 

When the developer/water mix is at the right temperature, set your timer for the 10 minutes and 30 seconds, start your timer and dump the mixture into the tank and invert/flip upside down your tank for the first 30 seconds. Make sure you tap the bottom of the tank afterwards. If you let it sit without tapping the bottom a few times, the air bubbles might stick to one spot on the film and make an undeveloped spot on it. Every minute after the initial 30 seconds, invert your tank for 5 seconds while tapping on the bottom afterwards until the timer runs to zero. When the timer reaches about 20 seconds, you'll want to take off the soft lid of the container, but make sure the strainer part stays on, and dump the mixture down the drain at about 10 - 5 seconds remaining. Do one quick rinse of water before we move to our next step.

Measure, in the graduated cylinder, the stop bath. The timer for this should be set at about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you're using water in lieu, set the timer at about 2 minutes. Like the first step, you need to invert for the first 30 seconds, but you don't need to tap the bottom anymore. And tap for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. when the timer reaches zero, dump it back into the container you poured it from.

Next, pour your fixer and set your timer for about 8 to 8 and a half minutes and pour it into the tank. Like the last, invert for the first 30 seconds, and then for 5 seconds every minute. This is probably the easiest part. When the timer hits zero, dump the used fixer back into the container of fixer and stick the tank under the water, fill it and dump it a couple of times.

pour and add the 12 oz of hypo clear to the tank and invert for the first 30 seconds. Then invert for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. And set the timer for 2 minutes. 

At this point, you can remove the strainer part of your tank and put it under running water for about 3 or 4 minutes. when the four minutes are up, pull the reel out and dunk it into the container of Photo Flo for about a minute. When removed from the Photo Flo, unwind the film from the reel and clip it to your drying line and clip another clothespin to the bottom of the film.

Many people will press the film in between their index and middle fingers to squeegee as much water off, but I've gotten scratches this way, so I just transfer it directly to the line. and let it dry for several hours. Then you can cut the film and stick it into the negative sheets.

See? Easy peasy. I promise, once you do it a couple times, it'll be like second nature. I don't even look at my old directions anymore. If you have any questions about this process, go ahead and shoot me a question in the comments below. Have Fun!!