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How to Develop Film

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Default How to Develop Film

In the digital age, film cameras are still widely popular as a retro way to take pictures. While many stores offer services where they can develop film or send orders to a lab, you can develop film in your own home with the right materials. Whether you have black and white or color film, youíll have to set up the proper workspace and dry your film. After that, you can develop your own negatives to print or scan later!


Setting up Your Workspace and Film
  1. Work in a room without any visible light when your film is out of its canister. Work in a closed space, like a spare bathroom or large closet when you handle film you havenít exposed yet. Cover lit areas, like cracks underneath the door with tape or towels. Even a little bit of light can cause your negatives to fog and ruin the pictures youíve taken.[1]
    • Stand in the darkroom and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. See if there are any sources of light coming through that you couldnít see before.
    • A red light should not be used in the room when you develop your film.
  2. Purchase the proper developerís kit for either black and white or color film. Search online or at specialty photography stores for a developerís kit. The kit includes all the chemicals you need in order to process your negatives. Make sure you choose the kit based on the type of film youíre developing.[2]
    • A full developerís kit will cost around $130 USD.
    • The basic chemicals youíll receive in a developerís kit are a developer, a fixer, a stopper, and a wetting agent.
    • Use liquid chemicals since they are easier to measure and mix.
  3. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses. Since youíll be working with chemicals, use safe practices to protect your eyes and your skin. If youíre worried about splashing the chemicals on your clothes as well, consider wearing an apron.[3]
  4. Take your film out of the canister in a dark room using a can opener. Make sure youíre working in a completely dark room so your film doesnít fog. Wait until your eyes are adjusted to the dark so you can work easily. Place the sharp edge of the can opener on the bottom lip of the film canister. Push down on the can opener to pop the end off of the canister. Dump the film into your hand and get rid of the canister.[4]
    • Lay your tools out in front of you so you can easily find them while you work in the dark.
  5. Cut the leading end of the film and start feeding it on the spiral. Use a pair of scissors to cut off the leading end of the film. Take the spiral, or the spool inside the film tank, out from the center of the tank. Find the protrusions on the inside of the spiral since these will mark the filmís entry point. Pull the film onto the spiral.[5]
    • The film spiral is usually set for a 35mm size. If youíre working with a different sized film, adjust the width of the spiral to match.
  6. Rotate the sides of the spiral to wind the film. Pull out some of the film from the canister and twist one side of the spiral clockwise. The film will be pulled from the canister and spool onto the spiral. Keep rotating the spiral until the film runs out. Cut the end of the film with scissors to make the ends even.[6]
  7. Place the film spiral into the film tank and close it. Set the spiral on the bottom of the film tank and screw in the top piece to protect the film from any light. Place the lid on top until youíre ready to pour the chemicals in. You can now turn the lights back on.[7]
    • The top piece acts as a light blocker and a funnel to make it easier to pour your chemicals in later.
    • You only need to work in the dark when youíre loading your film into the tank. After itís inside, you can turn on the lights.
Developing Black and White Film
  1. Pour of developer liquid and of water into a large measuring cylinder. Use water thatís room temperature, or about . Add the developer to the cylinder first before pouring in the water so it has a chance to mix.[8]
    • The developer makes the image appear on the film negatives.
    • The amount of developer you mix depends on how much film youíre developing. Use this amount if youíre developing one set of 35mm film.
    • Always follow the mixing directions on the packaging carefully since it may vary from the amount listed here.
  2. Mix of stop bath with of water in a second cylinder. Keep the stop bath solution separate from the developer or else it will not work. Add room temperature water to the cylinder after the stop bath. Try to be as precise as you can with your amounts so there are no errors when the film develops.[9]
    • The stop bath finishes the development process so your photos donít get overexposed.
  3. Put of fixer and of water in a third cylinder. Mix the solution with room temperature water in another cylinder or measuring cup. Give the solution a slight stir to make sure itís thoroughly mixed.
    • The fixer makes the developed image permanent on the film strip.
  4. Pour the developer solution into the film tank for 9 minutes. Take the sealer cap off the top of the film tank and pour in all of the developer solution. Start a timer as soon as all the liquid is inside the tank. Replace the cap and turn the tank upside-down continuously for 10 seconds. Every minute, agitate the solution again. Pour the solution back into the cylinder after the 9 minutes.[10]
    • Agitating the solution will make sure the developer evenly coats all of the film.
  5. Add the stop bath to the film tank and agitate it for 30 seconds. Pour all the stop bath into the tank and replace the sealer cap. Rock the tank back and forth for 30 seconds to stop your negatives from developing and overexposing. Once youíre finished, pour the stop bath back into its cylinder.[11]
  6. Use the fixer solution for 5 minutes to completely stop the developing process. Put the solution into the tank and replace the cap. Agitate the tank for the first 10 seconds before setting it down again. Rock the tank back and forth once every minute for 5 total minutes. Pour the fixer back into the cylinder when youíre finished.[12]
    • Fixer can be reused with other film so pour the solution back into a storage bottle if you want to save it.
  7. Rinse the film with clean water to remove chemical residue. Fill the tank with room temperature water. Invert the tank 5 times before removing the water. Refill the tank 2 more times, increasing the number of inversions by 5 each time so you do 10 on the second fill and 15 on the third.[13]
    • Use distilled water if possible so it doesnít leave drying spots on your film later on. Otherwise, tap water will work fine.
  8. Fill the film tank with water and add 1 drop of the wetting agent. Fill the tank with water once more with the wetting agent. Reseal the cap on top of the tank and invert it 5 times before dumping it out.[14]
    • The wetting agent helps the film dry evenly and quickly.
Developing Color Film
  1. Heat the developer and the blix to in a bath of hot water. Fill either a large plastic tub or a sink with hot water, checking the temperature periodically with a kitchen thermometer. Once it reaches , place your bottles of chemicals in the bath until they reach the same temperature.[15]
    • The developer makes the images appear on the film strip.
    • The blix is a bleach and fixer solution that stops the development process and solidifies the image on the film strip.
  2. Rinse the film with warm water. Fill the film tank with water heated to about and seal the cap on top. Agitate the water by rocking or inverting the tank back and forth for 1 minute so the chemicals can stick to the film easier. Once youíre done rinsing, empty the tank.[16]
  3. Fill the film tank with the developer solution and let it soak for 4 minutes. Fill the tank with the developer solution provided in your chemical kit and seal the tank. Invert the tank repeatedly for the first 10 seconds and then once every minute. This ensures that the developer coats the film evenly and allows all the images to develop. After 4 minutes, drain the tank.[17]
    • Store the developer in an airtight storage bottle if you want to reuse it later on.
  4. Pour the blix into the film tank and let it sit for 6 minutes. Fill the tank and seal the cap. Agitate the solution for 10 seconds. Once every minute, rock the tank back and forth to agitate it again. After 6 minutes have passed, empty the tank.[18]
    • Save the blix in a storage bottle if you want to use it again for more film, but donít let it mix with the developer. If any of the blix mixes with the developer, it will not work.
  5. Rinse the tank and film in warm water. Fill the tank with water heated to and agitate the water to clean off any of the chemicals. Empty the water after about 30 seconds.[19]
  6. Put your stabilizer in the film tank and soak the film for 1 minute. Fill the tank with the stabilizer and leave the film inside. You do not have to agitate the stabilizer for it to work. After 1 minute, drain the stabilizer from the tank and your film is done.[20]
    • If your chemical kit does not come with a stabilizer, then all you need to do is rinse your film.
Drying Your Negatives
  1. Attach a clip to the end of your film strip. Remove the film spiral from the tank and gently pull the end of the film strip out. Use a clothespin or a similar clip to hold onto the end of the film.[21]
    • The end of the film strip will not have any exposed photos on it so you donít have to worry about damaging them.
  2. Pull the film off of the spiral slowly and hang the strip off the ground. Hold the clip with one hand and the spiral with the other. Pull slowly on the clip so the film unravels from the spool. Place the clip along a string so the film doesnít touch the ground or the wall. Donít let anything touch the negatives.[22]
    • Work in a clean room where wind or dust wonít damage your negatives.
  3. Wipe any excess liquid off the film strip with a squeegee or your gloves. Start from the top of the film strip and gently squeeze it between 2 fingers or a squeegee tongs. Work down the entire length of the film so there is no dripping water.[23]
    • Wear clean vinyl or rubber gloves if youíre using your fingers.
  4. Attach a weighted clip to the bottom of the film strip. Place another clip on the bottom of the strip so it doesnít twist or deform while it dries. The clip will also catch any drips that fall off of the film strip.[24]
    • Put a tray on the ground below the film strip if you donít want water or chemicals falling onto the floor.
  5. Let the strip dry for at least 4 hours. Donít touch your strips for at least 2 hours after youíve cleaned and hung them to dry. Check how wet the film still is each hour by touching an area without an exposed photo. Once they are dry, they can be stored or scanned.[25]
    • To speed up the drying process, use a hairdryer on the lowest speed and heat setting and hold it from the film strip.
  • Work in a room that doesnít have any visible light or else your negatives may be foggy.
  • Wear safety glasses and rubber gloves since youíre working with chemicals.
Things Youíll Need
  • Room with no visible light
  • Developerís kit for black and white or colored film
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Film tank
  • Film spiral
  • Can opener
  • Scissors
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Measuring cylinders or cups
  • Pins or clips
  • Squeegee tongs
  1. ? https://photography.tutsplus.com/tut...lm--photo-2580
  2. ? http://www.weatherscapes.com/techniq...age=processing
  3. ? https://aphototeacher.com/2010/02/17/developing-film/
  4. ? https://youtu.be/lG3RFNii2nc?t=6s
  5. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=2m58s
  6. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=3m17s
  7. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=3m42s
  8. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=1m23s
  9. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=1m51s
  10. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=4m11s
  11. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=4m43s
  12. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=5m20s
  13. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=5m56s
  14. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=6m34s
  15. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=1m13s
  16. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=4m41s
  17. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=5m35s
  18. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=8m8s
  19. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=11m5s
  20. ? https://youtu.be/osIYS7mayEE?t=13m43s
  21. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=6m57s
  22. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=7m8s
  23. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w?t=7m12s
  24. ? https://youtu.be/aPQ7OPy8T2w
  25. ? http://www.weatherscapes.com/techniq...age=processing

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