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Thread: Finally ready to start developing film!!

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    New Member camperbc's Avatar
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    Finally ready to start developing film!!

    Hi all,

    I am a landscape/nature photographer (living on a remote, windswept and stunningly scenic island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland) and a collector of vintage cameras. I have a large display cabinet filled with flawless old SLR's, rangefinders, folders/box cameras, and my personal favorite, a gorgeous Yashica 635 dual format TLR. I have not used most of these cameras; it has been many years since I have shot with film. This is about to change, even though I am bedridden most of the time, due to a serious and permanent spinal injury. Although immobile for the most part, I do experience the odd "good" day, and I am making it my mission to get up and about on my good days, and start using some of these lovely old cameras!

    And not only that, but I have decided to do my own developing for the first time in 35 years! In fact, yesterday I went online and ordered what I hope is everything I will need to start developing my own b&w film, but it has been so long I fear I may have missed something. Here is a list of what I have ordered:

    - Film (duh!)
    - Paterson Super System 4 tank with two adjustable reels
    - Ilford Ilfosol-3 Film Developer
    - Ilford Ilfostop Stop Bath
    - Ilford Rapid Fixer
    - Edwal Wetting Agent
    - Darkroom Thermometer
    - ClearFile Archival Plus Negative Sleeves (6X6 and 35mm)
    - Film clips
    - Set of graduated cylinders
    - Beaker cups (set... small to large)
    - Funnels (set of 3)
    - Digital timer
    - Large graduated pitcher

    Am I on the right track? Anything else that I need to begin? It has been a VERY long time since I have done this, so of course I am interested in hearing any/all suggestions you may be able to provide. I am about to order a new Epson V600 flat bed scanner; ($179.99) seems to be the best choice for my limited budget. (would love to hear from anyone who has this scanner, and what your thoughts are) I don't think I will need to buy a changing bag, as I have a light-tight room.

    Because I live in such a remote region, there is nowhere within hundreds of miles to buy film or darkroom supplies. Also, any retailer in Canada is much more expensive than the USA, so although I would prefer to shop Canadian, I have to be realistic and watch my pennies, due to my very modest disability pension. So I buy most everything I require from either B&H or Freestyle; Even after duty/brokerage fees, it works out to about half the cost of buying here in Canada! (if someone can point me to an affordable Canadian retailer, I will be eternally grateful!)

    Here is a list of 15 cameras that I plan to use over the next few months for capturing my Fogo Island (Newfoundland) landscapes:

    - Minolta Maxxum 700si
    - Minolta Maxxum 7000
    - Canon AT-1
    - Canon AE-1
    - Cosina CT-1 "Super"
    - Canon Canonet 28
    - FED 2 (D6)
    - Zorki-4
    - Yashica Electro 35 GSN
    - Minolta Hi-Matic "F"
    - Yashica 635 TLR

    Modified for 120 film:

    - Kodak Duaflex I
    - Kodak Brownie Flash Six-20
    - Kodak Autographic 1A
    - Kodak Brownie Target Six-16

    The Canon AT-1 that I listed above is the very camera I used during my high school photography class back in 1977! My brother purchased it new and had allowed me to use it for my course. He recently informed me that he kept it for all of these years; had it sitting on a book shelf. You can imagine my excitement when he mailed it to me! I was amazed to see that it is still in beautiful condition! (only needed light seals) When I opened the parcel it brought back a lot of fond memories for me!

    So, that's my story. This is all new to me again, so I will be posting soon to either show you my handiwork or to plead for assistance. I'm looking for all the advice I can get; hoping to hear from many of you with any pointers that may help me get through this!

    Thanks,
    Glen

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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    I would add a film washer, they are inexpensive and easy to use. All metal reels sized specifically will also be more convenient in the end. They also make a simple device that allows you to lift the reels from solution to solution. Depending on your taste and what you are photographing , matching film to the developer will change the look of the image a lot. For my personal taste, I liked the range and the look of Ilford HP5 with Rodinal one shot developer. It is a linear developer, meaning that it reproduces the tonal range as you exposed it. Compensating developers (those with sulphite) will shoulder the highlights. Neither is better just different. I like the "snap" of it. It also as a developer has the characteristic of the greatest accutance, the greatest contrast between dark and light edges of the silver halide crystals. But there are lots of films and developers that in combination give beautiful results. Joe

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    New Member camperbc's Avatar
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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    Thank-you Joe for such an informative post; very much appreciated!

    Glen

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    I don't have any advice to give, since, although I'm shooting film, I haven't come to the point of doing my own developments yet. But I think it's a great project you're on to. I look forward to seeing the results.

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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    If you're getting a Paterson tank, you don't need a separate film washer. There's an inexpensive accessory Paterson film washer hose that plugs in to the top of the center column. You can get it at B&H, perhaps at Freestyle as well. Actually, considering that budget is tight, you don't even need that - I just put water into the tank as the next step following the fixer, and continue agitating through several additional changes of water over the desired wash time. That will do - download and read the Ilford film data sheets for more information.

    The Paterson plastic reels are fine, BTW. I've been using mine for more than 20 years and have never had the slightest urge to switch to metal.

    Good luck and enjoy!

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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    I suggest opening one roll of 35mm and one roll of 120 film to practice loading in the light. Then use these exposed rolls to practice loading in the dark.

    I'll second Oren's suggestion of using the Ilford film washing method as it saves water and doesn't require buying additional supplies.

    When you are developing your film keep your agitation consistent -- shaking the canister hard affects the film differently than a slow/smooth agitation. Stick with one film and one developer for a while, there is no "magic bullet" when it comes to working with film. The people who seem to effortlessly make their film sing have spent a very long time refining their shooting, developing, and printing techniques to do so. Finally, I highly, highly, highly recommend only changing ONE variable at a time while you're getting things going.

    Good luck and have fun!!

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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    I second what Jeremy is saying about changing one variable at a time. Generally speaking on agitation, you really do not want to have any big motions of the developer solution. Slow and easy is best. By pre-wetting the film with water,you minimize the possibility of getting air bubbles on the film. But if the developing solution flows too quickly over the film you will get surge marks which is a localized over development. More on 120 film than 35mm. I didn't know if the Patterson system also washed well. Getting all of the fixer off the film is a big deal. Just as using photo flo at the end to not leave water marks on the film when it dries. Keep your temperatures constant somewhere between 68 degrees and 72 degrees F. Roughly 220 degrees C. The greater the variance the more grain appearance. Good luck, it is less complicated than making bread. Joe

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    Quote Originally Posted by jsf View Post
    Keep your temperatures constant somewhere between 68 degrees and 72 degrees F. Roughly 220 degrees C.
    I'm not a specialist, but I'm quite sure that 22 degrees C will give better results

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    Re: Finally ready to start developing film!!

    Surge marks actually are more of a problem with slow adjitation than quick. The surge marks mean you had insufficient chemistry in the tank and were agitating too slowly.
    I hope this tank will take 2 rolls 35mm and one roll 120 at a time. Otherwise I recommend you get a tank that will. always fill the tank or you will get foaming as well.
    The problem with using water as a stop is that you still drag some residual developer into the fixer and thus oxidize the fixer faster to where it no longer is as potent.
    In a pinch weak vinegar can work. Adding some hardener to your fixer is also a good idea for film as it makes the film more scratch resistant. Paper on the other hand has hardeners built into it, with the exception of some contact papers such as Azo, so hardeners should not be used in the fix as it makes wash times really long which may leach optical brighteners out.
    I worked with Oliver Gagliani and like John Sexton and we settled on 75 degrees as a very good temperature for the t-grain films while 68 degrees was better for the more traditional types. Be careful to not leave your films wet too long as the grain builds up.
    Last edited by RodK; 23rd July 2012 at 20:53. Reason: grammer
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