Getting started with something completely new can be overwhelming, and film developing is no exception. Film and paper manufacturer Ilford has published a series of videos that will help you to get started. From loading film to producing your very first print, this series will teach you all the basic darkroom techniques that you need to know.
TETENAL’s been in the film developing business since 1847 and almost all of the world’s other developing companies have relied on them during that time. They’d been having trouble (at least publicly) since the end of 2018 when they were desperately seeking help to avoid bankruptcy. The following month, they declared that they would be shutting down.
It looked like they might disappear forever, but by November, things were looking up. The company was rescued by a management buyout and now they’re back, they are focused, and they have visions – so their website says. They also have a shiny new online store.
Since I started shooting film again, I’ve only shot black and white film. Usually either Ilford FP4+, Kodak Tri-X or Kodak TMAX. But when I first started to enquire about having it developed, I was confronted with some pretty ridiculous prices. £12 they wanted, just to develop a £4 roll of film. That’s when I decided to develop for myself and got my cost down to £0.25 per roll.
But why is it so expensive to have black and white film developed in a store when colour film is arguably more expensive for us to develop at home? That’s what’s discussed in this video from Nicolas Llasera as he talks about some of the reasons behind this seemingly strange price discrepancy.
In the last couple of months, the whole world it seems was on hold due to the rampages of COVID-19/ Corona Virus. In the Facebook groups I’m in many users were seeing shortages in supply. Some online stores stopped shipping Rodinal (caustic liquid) and other stuff was just not to be found.
Adding to this was the fact that a lot of users were not consuming chemistry as quickly and were looking at spoilage/oxidation of partially consumed jugs of developer turning brown on the shelf.
Last week, photographer Brendan Barry showed you how to turn your room into a camera obscura using only the stuff you can find at home. And if any of you decides to take analog photos with your “room camera,” you’ll need developer and fixer for the photographic film. Here’s some good news – you can also make these without leaving your home. In the video below, Brendan will show you how.
By now most everyone dabbling in analog photography has seen articles on the use of “Caffenol”, “Beerinol”, “Redwineol” where people have developed film in mixtures of coffee, beer, red wine. While these can be fun experiments with show-able results they are somewhat pricey developers. Aside from the coffee-beer-wine you also need fairly consumptive amounts of sodium carbonate (wash soda) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to make it work. We are going to pare that down a bit.
A lot of us analog film photographers love to shoot film but new film stocks can be pricey. A 100ft roll (30meters) of fresh Tmax is about $80 US these days. Deals can be had on “vintage” (expired) film but many purists will disregard this as results are inconsistent and sometimes just awful. I teach on the side and I am always looking to save student monies but give them a positive experience so there is no discouragement.
Craft beers can have really interesting ingredients and flavors, and even get a little quirky. Delaware craft brewer Dogfish Head has launched a unique beer that will quench your thirst and let you develop film. It’s named SuperEIGHT and yes, just as the name suggests, it can be used to process Super8 motion picture film.
One of the biggest issues in the darkroom is keeping track of time. Whether it’s for developing your rolls of film or exposing negatives onto paper in the enlarger, there’s just very little out there these days to assist with that, and using a phone can be tricky, especially if you’ve got wet chemicals on your hands.
But it seems there’s a new, modern solution to this particular problem; Maya. Billing itself as “The only darkroom timer you’ll ever need”, it has countdown timers, f-stop adjustments, a test strip mode, room light control (what?!?), and it’s modular so you can add more features to it in the future.
If you’re new to film, pushing and pulling it when developing is a bit like ramping the exposure slider up or down in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. Except, here you’re doing it with a purpose when you shoot. Sometimes it’s for technical reasons. At other times, it’s purely an artistic choice. In this video, Jay P Morgan at The Slanted Lens tells us all about the how, when and why to pushing and pulling film.