Photo tips

Developing black and white film part 2


In part one, I talked about some general tips on what to do in order to develop black and white film at home. I didn’t go into the step by step basics of how to do it, there are plenty of books and online guides. I just gave you the push and confidence to develop film at home.

Once you gather up the supplies, and have a general understanding about black and white film developing, this blog will give you a few tips about how to refine the process or make it a little easier.

So here we go, in no particular order:

  1. If you buy powdered chemicals (developer, fixer) use a big enough container to mix all of it at one time. The pouch is meant to be opened and mixed in one shot. A container bigger than the finished product is recommended. It makes it easier.
  2. Powdered chemicals need to be mixed at a certain temperature. Some warmer than others. Read the pouch and mix at the recommended temperature.
  3. If you will be mixing powder, possibly at warm temperatures, it is best to let the chemicals mix and cool down over 24 hours before using them. This lets everything dissolve and mix properly.
  4. Mark your bottles with the chemical inside and the date you mixed them. You can use blue painter’s tape, so it comes off easily once done. I also have used packing tape and Sharpies.
  5. Have a darkroom towel, and a darkroom shirt. One for drying your hands, the other to protect your clothes. You can use an apron too.
  6. If you are sensitive to darkroom chemistry use gloves.
  7. img_3210Metal film developing tanks tend to leak around the seam where the lid goes on the tank when inverting for agitation. Use regular clear tape and seal up the canister before you get it wet. Peel off when done.
  8. Start a notebook to keep track of your film developing. Use the recommended times in a book or chart from the manufacturer, and then go from there to tweak your chemistry to get the negs you want.
  9. To get your chemicals to the right temperature you can make a water bath. Fill a larger container with hot or cold water, and submerge a container with the chemical inside this container. Nothing fancy, put the graduate of developer in a bucket or pitcher. Let it heat up or cool down to temp before using. Use a thermometer and develop when it is at temp.
  10. Developer is the most critical for temperature. Water needs to be close (esp. not too hot), and fixer is ok as long as it is room temp or thereabouts.
  11. Fixer lasts forever, dump your fixer back into the bottle after every roll. You can use fancy test strips, or just add some time to your fixing time as it ages. If it does not fix anymore, it is time to change it out.

This is not the be all end all of developing tips for black and white film. They are a few things I learned along the way that makes it easier to complete. I hope it helps!

If you missed part one, here is the link

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