Today I developed film

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I’ve fiddled with photography for quite a while now, more than half of my life at this point, but it was mostly digital, my journey started with a Trust camera brought by Santa, in the early oughts, from which unfortunately I don’t think I have any saved images.

Then from this I remember the next camera-integrating-device being a Nokia 6233 from which – once again – I do not have anything saved. The first actual “big-boy” camera was my trusty Nikon D40 which went through my adolescent hell period but nevertheless it still survives to this day and I still have a ton of images from it.

Somewhere along the path I got a film camera for one of my birthdays, but I’m unsure if it occurred after me in the life at that point found out about Lomography and the existence of the Lomo Fisheye camera, regardless – the Fisheye I had still exists, and a Zenit I got as a birthday gift also still exists in my possession.

Thing is – a lot of the films I shot were never developed, and we’re talking about rolls of 35mm that are now anywhere between 12 to 14 years old (since I shot them at least), so being the anxiety ridden person that I apparently turned out to be – I decided the best way to fuck up your anxiety is to do something weirdly specific requiring exact temperatures and timings and chemicals that are more-or-less dangerous.

(Disclaimer: I have a friend that knows shit, but he – and I quote – “left me alone to see what I do”, so some things that may be written here might be his wits, not mine.)

After a quick google search I decided I can do this, so I ordered a Paterson B&W Developing Kit (mostly for the goodies), a CineStill C41 Simplified chemical kit, and a few other tools from FotoImpex.de as well as filmpefaza.ro.

The generic procedure is – you need to take out the film from the canister in total darkness (I used a changing bag), then put it on a spiral into a light-proof tank that will hold your chemicals to develop. You use the first developer while rotating the tank, after a set amount of time you move to the next chemical – the fixer/bleacher/etc, and finally you rinse it, afterwards you can remove your film and put it into a scanner to actually get the photos!

The Black and White developing procedure is rather straightforward and doesn’t really require precise or high temperatures, the Ilford kit specifically is made to be used at around 20-24 degrees Celsius, but after developing the friend that knows shit told me I had “shit density” which took a while to understand that he’s actually referring to the density of the film imprint thingy (e.g. what you shot), which might be due to too long of a developing time, regardless – I was really happy with the results given it was my first time and I also didn’t ruin a film from some years ago. After this I also got a Kodak Mini Digital Film Scanner, which is mostly crap but also – works like a charm for my needs.

You can notice several water droplets dried out as well as some very small dust/hair parts on some images, I guess I shouldn’t have rinsed after applying the Photoflo to the developed film.

Well that worked like a charm, on to developing C41 rolls now! I used the CineStill C41 Simplified kit, an aquarium heater and an aquarium pump to make sure the heat is moved around the container in which I sunk the developer bottle and the bleacher/fixer bottle, then started developing.

I had a nice accident while waiting for the Blix to do its thing and the cap off of the Jobo tank popped, spraying me with a mix of ammonium thiosulfate, ferric ammonium, sodium metabisulfate, luckily being the semi-blind-man I am I was wearing glasses so I only got sprinkles on them instead of my eyes. I had the composure not to fuck up the film I was fixing, and continued inverting the tank.

The colors aren’t the greatest but I’m totally fine with them, again – happy that I didn’t totally ruin a film from several years ago. I’m sure the next rolls will fare much better, but then again – this was good as well.

You should totally try it, it sounds super intimidating but isn’t as difficult as you’d imagine.

As for the anxiety, it takes your mind off of it a bit since you need to focus on inverting the tank every 30 seconds.

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