Black & White Film Processing Week 2

Tuesday 9th March
 Tonight we develop!
And not before time some Anthropologists might claim.

To Boldly Go......

Despite yet another Fire Drill spent trapped in the car park, still without an escape exit we did manage to get into the darkroom eventually.

After an initial briefing by Marc as to how to go about developing the rolls of 35mm we shot last week and had left stored in their respective development tanks,

Exploded view of development tank

 we trooped off to the darkroom, donned our safety goggles and protective aprons – you cant be too safe!




Health & Safety Notes:-
Photographic chemicals should be handled with reasonable care.
Try to avoid getting chemicals onto and/or into your body.

If at any point, you get chemicals on you, into your body or there is a chemical spill, it is important to take of the incident immediately, including washing the chemical off, and letting the instructor and/or lab instructor know to assist immediately for the safety of yourself and others in the lab.
If you do get chemicals on your skin, wash immediately.
Avoid Getting Chemicals Into Eyes.
If you do get chemicals in your eye, wash immediately with cool running water from the nearest source, faucet or eyewash station for 15 minutes.
Get immediate medical attention after washing eye.
Avoid Getting Chemicals Into Mouth
Wash hands after working with chemicals in both the film processing rooms and darkrooms, especially before eating.
Clean up any chemical spills as soon as possible.
If a spill occurs it is important to contain the spill and notify the instructor and/or lab technician immediately to determine how the spill should be cleaned up.
Clean your clothing and shoes if they come into contact with the chemical.

Disposal of photographic chemicals
With the exception of the fixer, it is environmentally safe to dispose the film developing chemistry down the sink.
As per college and local environmental regulations, you are required to dispose of the fixer in the provided recycling container.

Developing Our Films
Firstly it might be worth looking into why we need to develop these films – well once you have taken your shots and the image has been exposed in the camera onto the film, the picture has been made, but nothing shows on the film.
The image is there, but it is what is referred to as a latent image.

This latent image is formed by the changes to the silver halide crystals within the film’s emulsion upon exposure to light.
This image will only become visible after chemical development takes place.

In this instance we were using Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer and Ilford Hypam Fixer.

We checked out the manufacturers specification sheets for the Developer and Fixer we were using in order to obtain the correct development time and mixing ratio`s which for the developer in this case was 6 minutes 30 sec @ 20degree C. developing time and mixed at 9:1 (18 fl. oz. water / 2 fl. oz. developer).
The fixer needed to be mixed at a ratio of 4:1 (16 fl. oz. water / 4 fl. oz. fix) and should remain in the tank for 3 X the developing time (18 minutes).

We filled one graduated measuring cylinder to the 18fl oz mark with a mixture of hot & cold (to get the temperature to 20 deg. C) and added the required 2 fl. oz. of  developer. Taking another graduate we filled this with 16 fl. oz. of water and added 4 fl. oz. of Hypam.

Try to be consistent in the darkroom

(note: If you consistantly use 2 differing sized graduated cylinders for your developer and fixer it will reduce the risk of mixing them up and possibly ruining your film by adding fixer first! – This is NOT A GOOD THING!)

We were now ready to begin so ensuring the clock was set to 6 + 1/2 minutes the developer was swiftly added to the developing tank and with the lid swiftly replaced I agitated the tank for the first full minute and then for 10 seconds on every minute thereafter. This is needed to ensure a consistent covering of all the film and to try to prevent bubbles or streaks forming on the emulsion.

Regular Agitation Is Crucial

After the required developing time you must remove the lid and drain the developer rapidly from the tank before rinsing thoughroughly with water and then swiftly pouring in the fixer and agitating the tank again – as per the previous timings.

It was whilst we were in the process of draining the developer from one of the two tanks we were developing on this particular evening when this weeks disaster struck, upon inverting one of the tanks the light tight funnel fell out into the sink!
Without panicking the funnel was very swiftly re-inserted into the tank but everyone feared the worst, the 2 rolls of film were probably ruined, having been fogged by the darkroom lights. Without much hope we continued to fix both tanks and then after draining out the fixer (back into the storage tank as it can be re-used) we left the two tanks rinsing under running cold water taps for 15 minutes or so.

After rinsing thoughroughly we removed the funnels from our two tanks and removed the spirals to inspect the films and by some miracle all four rolls of film had been developed perfectly! Even the two which had the funnel fall out! This was amazing, and good news indeed.

All that was left to do was hang the rolls up in the drying cabinet and, after drying, cut the negs into strips of 6 and put them into neg storage files.


Next week – contact printing


About Steve

Originally trained in graphic art at a time when the only apples you could buy were locally grown and sold in pounds and ounces!, or were made from black vinyl and usually featured Paul Mcartney on vocals. Back then we too had cutting edge technology such as Lettraset and Cow Gum, anyone here remember those? And amazing tools like Rotring pens and French curves. I originally worked in the printing industry for several years and we would doodle away in our state of the art Litho studio producing all manner of four colour separation artwork whilst listening to the still operating Letterpress machines thumping away two floors down and wondering if and when the management would eventually see the light and revert totally to Litho printing, alas I never did see that day as, against everyones wishes, I gave up my position in the studio for a dusty, smelly 8 foot square shed in a boatbuilding yard and thus began a 25 year sojourn, designing, building and generally mucking about with offshore raceboats and production sportsboats. I kept my interest in graphics throughout those years and taught myself to drive adobe creative suites and so on but, unfortunately on PC not Macs. I have now got the boating thing out of my system and am aiming to get back into the graphics business once again, just not sure how yet!
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3 Responses to Black & White Film Processing Week 2

  1. Thanks for the comment,
    It was good to go but I did find a few things that
    I didn’t like much. I do however like the weekly
    step by step darkroom tutorial you’re giving (:

    • Steve says:

      Tonight we are planning on making a set of contact sheets from last weeks negs and then, time permitting, produce one or two prints from the best of the negs.
      I will try to post the result of tonights exploits tomorrow, but in any case as soon as poss.

  2. bethapix says:

    It’s always been amazing to see newly processed B/W negatives. I myself always get stunned by the result of negatives i process, even though the pictures were badly composed lol…
    Here in Indonesia, it’s difficult to obtain Ilford stuff these days. So we have no choice other than accepting China-made darkroom stuff and films, which often unconsistent and unpredictable. So whatever the factory wrote in their sheet, I always ended up in trusting my own feeling and instinct than those sheets. I just did trials and experiments in different kind of situations, and memorized them all.. Haha :))

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