Developing your own film – A bought experience – Pt. 3

The Developing Process

Things to keep in mind:

  • Determine is the amount of chemicals you will be using. Since I am using a single reel tank I use about 300ml of each chemical in the process
  • Keep all the chemicals at hand
  • The process follows a strict order, if you change it the film will be ruined
  • Chemicals act upon their contact with film, each chemical will work for a specific amount of time on the film.
  • All chemicals must be used at a similar temperature, a +/- 5 degrees Celsius difference is allowed.
  • Agitation is important, it must be done firmly but gently, you are not mixing a drink after all. I agitate as follows: turn the tank upside down twisting it counter-clockwise as you do it: i.e. you hold the bottom of the reel with your right hand and the top with the left hand facing to the 3 clock direction.
  • Each film must use its own recipient, I use beakers measured in ml


The Developing process consist of the following steps:

  1. Developer
  2. Stop bath
  3. Fixer
  4. Hypo Clearing Agent
  5. Final Wash
  6. Wetting Agent
  7. Drying

Developer

Once we have mixed the D76 components as stated in Part 2 of this series, we will have a working solution. This working solution is ready to be used on film. However this working solution may be diluted in water at a 1:1 or 1:3 ratio (that is 1 part of working solution and 1 or 3 parts of water). The use of a diluted developer will depend on the film you are using (not every film allows a diluted D76 developer, specially if you are push processing the film).

What is push processing?

Most black and white film – some more than others- have a wide latitude, that is they may be used one, two or even 3 stops higher that its specified speed. The speed of film is stated at an average ISO value, however this value is only a recommended speed in order to measure the exposure, for example some people state that TriX real ISO is 320 and consequently they expose it and process it at such speed.

TriX and HP5+ have a nominal speed of ISO 400, but they may be “pushed” to ISO 800 (1 stop), 1600 (2 stops), or 3200 (3 stops).  When pushing a film, two elements come into play: the exposure and the development time, therefore you need to expose the film at the desired speed and then develop it as if it where of such speed.

The rule of thumb when push processing is to increase the developing time 15% – 20% per stop increase.

There downsize of pushing a film is that you lose detail, resolution or sharpness in the image, since a pushed film tends to have more grain than if it were exposed and developed at its nominal speed.

Why to dilute the Developer?

A more diluted developer works at a slower rate on film, therefore it built the grain more slowly on the negative, as a consequence you get a reduction in the physical grain size and a reduction in the overall grain of the negative.This comes handy when pushing film because it compensate the reduction of the film’s resolution.

The process

  • Open the small lid of the tank and pour the Developer. Close it.
  • Agitate 5 – 7 times every 5 seconds for 30 seconds.
  • Agitate 5-7 times in 5 seconds every 30 seconds (Kodak Method) or Agitate 10 – 12 times in 10 seconds every minute (Ilford Method)
  • Start to pour out the Developer 10 seconds prior the end of the developing time
  • Dispose the Developer after use

Developing Time

You may find the developing times at different temperatures for Kodak TriX 400 here and the Ilford HP5+ here

In my case, I always use a diluted D76 1:1 and my chemicals are often at 20 C, therefore my times are:

  • TriX at 400  = 9 min 75 sec
  • TriX at 1600 = 13 min 25 sec

Stop Bath

  • Open the small lid of the tank and pour 300 ml of water. Close it.  Use bottled water, do not use tap water is possible.
  • Agitate 15 times, pour out the water
  • Repeat 4 times

Fixer

Fixer is the second most important part of the process. Fixer is used in its working solution and it may be reused, 1 liter of fixer may be used for around 20 films, after that it is said that the Fixer is exhausted.The more you use the fixer the longer you should leave it to fix. I fix for 6 minutes the first 5 rolls and increase the fixing time for 1 minute every 5 rolls until 20 rolls have been fixed, then I dispose the Fixer and prepare a new batch.

  • Open the small lid of the tank and pour 300 ml of Fixer. Close it.
  • Agitate 3 times for 3 seconds every 30 seconds
  • Fix for 6 minutes
  • Pour the fixer back

Hypo Clearing Agent

The HCA is prepared in a stock solution, it must be diluted in a 1:4 proportion.

  • Open the small lid of the tank and pour 300 ml of diluted HCA. Close it.
  • Leave it for 2 minutes. Agitate 5 times at the end of the first minute

Final Wash

For the final wash I use the Ilford Method with a couple of amendments.

  • Open the small lid of the tank and fill it in with bottled water and invert the tank 5 times, pour out the water
  • Fill in the tank with fresh bottled water and  invert the tank 10 times, pour out the water
  • Fill in the tank with fresh bottled water and  invert the tank 20 times, pour out the water
  • Fill in the tank with distilled water and  invert the tank 40 times, pour out the water

Wetting Agent

  • The film is no longer sensitive to light so you may now open the tank.
  • Fill the tank with distilled water and put 1 drop of wetting agent (I use Johnson baby shampoo)
  • Leave it for 2 minutes. At the end of the time agitate it a little and pour out the water.
  • If there are traces of soap bubbles, fill the tank with bottled water and rinse the film.

Drying.

After washing hang up the film in a dry place free of dust. Let the film dry for 2 hours, you may then cut it and place it in a protective film sleeves.

You may wipe the film with a film squeegee. This is not recommended since you may scratch the negative, but if you do it, first soak the squeegee in water and then wipe the film.

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