Well I thought this would be a two part post, but it’s slipped over to three. I didn’t realise how much detail I wanted to provide and I didn’t quite realise how long it would take to write. Still very new to this blogging lark!
This is what you’ll need for the wet side of developing your film:
- Developer (Ilford Ilfotec DD-X)
- Stop Bath (Fotospeed SB-50)
- Fixer (Fotospeed FX-30, Odourless)
- Wetting agent (Ilford Ilfosol)
- Measuring cylinders. These ones take 600ml. You can get bigger and smaller, the latter will help measuring smaller amounts of chemicals. A top tip is to label your cylinders (eg. Dev, Stop, Fix). Even pros can accidentally put the fixer in first!
- Paterson triple timer. You can get analogue timers too, but I find that the Paterson digital ones are very resilient.
- Syringes. Again, useful for measuring small amount of chemicals.
- Thermometer. I prefer the digital probe type.
So, you should now have your film nicely tucked away in the tank and ready for development.
A quick mention of how the chemicals work. The developer develops the exposed silver in the film. The stop bath stops this process. The fixer removes excess, undeveloped silver from the film, preventing it from “developing out” in the light. You then need to wash the fixer off the film. Finally, you can use a wetting agent to help the film dry evenly. It’s also worth noting, some chemicals can be re-used and this is indicated as capacity of the chemical.
The first step is to mix your chemicals. If you look on the bottle, or the documentation for your chemicals, it’ll give you a ratio, such as 1+4. So for every 1 of one thing, there’s 4 of another, usually chemical to water. If you look on the bottom of your Paterson developing tank, it’ll tell you how much of the total mixture you’ll need to develop one roll of 35mm or 120 film. Since we’re just developing one 35mm film, you should need to mix up 290ml of solution.
So, assuming your chemical needs to be mixed at 1+4, you divide the total mixture by the total parts… in other words 290 / (1+4) or 290 / 5. This gives you 58. This is the 1 of the parts, so that’s 58ml of developer. You can add this to your measuring cylinder and then fill up to 290ml with water that’s 20 degrees C.
Now, you can develop at different temperatures, but 20 C is the “standard” temperature. Ilford provide a compensation chart for different temperatures.
If you’re really lucky, your water might come out at 20 degrees, but chances are it doesn’t. If you have a mixer tap, you should be able to get it right, but if like me you don’t, you just have to fill a container with warm and cold water until it’s “just right”. If you don’t want to do this (for instance, if you’re using deionized water in a bottle), you can fill a tray or large container with ice water or hot water and put your cylinder/s in it. This can take quite a while to get to the right temperature though and you will need to periodically stir it to get an even temperature.
You also need to know how long to develop your film for. This can also be found on your developer bottle or your film packet… but, your film or developer may not always be listed. This is where the Massive Dev Chart comes in. Select your film and developer on the left, click search and it will list time, dilutions, temperature, film size etc. Bookmark it, now!
Now you’re ready to go and in part 3, we will actually develop the film.