Developing Black and White Films at Home

I am preparing to go to India next week, well, no, actually sooner than that. Lauren and I leave on Thursday. Ahh! We are travelling around for four and a half months and producing a photo documentary book called "100 Days of India."

I will be shooting only black and white film, and am not even taking a digital camera! The body of choice is my newly refurbished Olympus OM2. My dad recently serviced it and replaced the light seals, so in preparation I have been shooting a lot of film and developing them to make sure the camera was in good shape. It is, thankfully.

So here's some info on the developing. The main reason for doing this is that it is far cheaper than going to a camera shop. I can't say it is my favourite activity in the world, but necessary.

Step 1
Measure out your chemicals. The chemicals come in a very concentrated form, so you need to dilute them. Make sure you label your containers clearly.

Step 2
Work out how long each of your fims needs to be developed for. Keep notes so it doesn't matter if you forget the times. I water the developer down to 1+ 1, which means you have to spend a few more minutes with each one, but doubles the amount of films I can develop. 

Step 3
Get your equipment out.

Step 4
Place a tank (top left of the pic above) with a light tight lid inside the dark bag with 2 spools (white/cream things above) and 2 films to be developed. Ideally you want these to require the same time developing. So two rolls of Ilford HP5 for example.

Step 5
Inside the bag you have to take the films out of their canisters with a small pair of scissors and roll them onto the spools. When fully wound on, place them in the tank, and seal the top with a click.

Step 6
DEV! Now the rolls are light safe, in the tank, so you can take them out of the dark bag. Pour your measured out developer into the tank.  For two rolls of 35mm you need 600ml. Make sure you know which film is in which tank, and how long you need to develop each for. Agitate 15 seconds out of every minute (tip it upside down and right way up again, slowly). Have a timer running. When the time is up, say 13 minutes, tip the dev down the drain.

Step 7
STOP! Pour in your stop. Agitate constantly. This takes between 30 seconds and a minute. People differ on the correct time, as the stop acts pretty much instantly. I usually do a minute.Do not tip down the drain though. Stop can be re-used for quite a while (20-30 films).

Step 8
FIX! Pour in your fix. Agitate 15 seconds every minute for 6-10 minutes. You pretty much cannot over fix your film, but I have under fixed it before. I usually err on the side of caution and fix for 10 minutes. Again, save the chemical.

Step 9
Now flush the tank out with water. Again i do this for 10 minutes, running water through it. In the final 30 seconds, drop one single drip of fairy liquid in and agitate. Tip this out. The fairy liquid helps prevent streaks.

Step 10
The exciting bit. Open up the tank and pull the film off the spool o have a look. Holding the film up to the light you can see if you managed to get any successful pics and if the developing worked. Then hang them up to dry for a while. 

Step 11
Cut the negatives up into sets of 5 frames and put into folders. This keeps them clean and not dusty (hopefully) until you get a chance to scan them.

Step 12
Put away all your chemicals and equipment. The dev needs to be away from light so I put mine in an old orange juice carton, inside a bin bag, secured up with fluorescent pink tape. This is perhaps over the top.

And here are some pictures I took in downtown Los Angeles, between Hill and Broadway on 5th Street.