First Time Developing B&W Film

I did it, I finally did it! I developed my first roll of black and white film last night. I’ve had the chemicals and everything else I needed to develop film for a few months now, but I’ve been postponing developing that first roll all this time because I was so nervous that I would screw up getting the film on the reel. It turns out that I was rightfully scared about it. I did sort of screw up the film when I tried to put it on the reel. I could not get the film to go into the grooves for the longest time, so I kept on rolling and unrolling it over and over, which made the film get these little kinks all over. Not only that, the end of the paper backing on 120 film has a strip of glue on it where it attaches to the film itself and after separating the paper from the film, I did not push it far enough away from the reel so at some point it stuck to the film. Turns out that I had so much trouble because I was trying to get the film on the reel in the wrong direction. It must have taken me a good 20 minutes before it was finally on and in the tank.

After those terribly frustrating 20 minutes, it was all smooth sailing and I was ecstatic to see actual images having developed when I pulled out the reel from the tank once the film had gone through developer, stop bath, and fixer. Granted most of the images were ruined with the kinks but the last two frames were more or less fine. Here is one of them hanging to dry. You can still see a few kinks on there but nothing too bad, although it’s probably not suitable for wet printing in a darkroom.The subject matter is also kind of boring since I shot all the images on this roll with the specific goal of using it as my practice roll for developing – I didn’t want to have to deal with the sadness over loosing precious images if I weren’t successful in my first developing attempt.

First Time Developing Film - Negative

I used Ilford DD-X developer for 8 minutes with inversions of the tank for the first 30 seconds and then five inversions every 30 seconds after that; Ilfostop stop bath for about 30 seconds, and Ilford rapid fixer for 5 minutes with inversions every minute. I washed the film with Ilford’s recommended method – fill the tank and do 5 inversions, dump water, fill the tank and do 10 inversions, dump water, fill the tank and do 20 inversions, dump water, and finally fill the tank with water with a little bit of Ilford Ilfotol wetting agent, do a few inversions and dump.

I can’t afford a scanner, so my way of digitizing the negatives is by placing the negative on a small light table and taking a photo of it with my 50mm macro lens, and then inverting the image in Photoshop. I know I should have used a tripod to do this, but I was too anxious to see the image so I stabilized my arms as well as I could and took the picture “free hand.” I’m sure the resulting image isn’t actually as sharp as the negative is because of that, but it’s plenty sharp for showing the positive image here.

First Time Developing Film

I really did it!

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