Lessons Learned In The Darkroom – What Home Film Developing Taught Me

I have never been patient. All through high school and college, I skimmed mandatory reading material, always finding shortcuts and “angles”. Is it possible for a creature of habit to become patient? Start developing your own film. You may learn some patience. What I have learned so far-

  1. “No violence!” To borrow a Film Photography Podcast (FPP) motto, be gentle, don’t yank, and act slowly and methodically. Yesterday, in the darkroom, I had one reel that I just could not get a roll of Tri-X onto to save my life. I had the confidence to know I would eventually get it. There is no rush at all.
  2. This is easy. I was scared to death when I developed my 1st roll of film almost a month ago. It’s a process, a logical, step-by-step one. Like making an omelette. This is not hard. Don’t overengineer it.
  3. If you have a 2-roll developing tank, develop 2 rolls at a time. You save a little of developer per roll. This is how I have been conserving my D-76. Two rolls yesterday, two rolls this morning.
  4. You are in COMPLETE control of the traditional analog photographic process. I really started developing my own film out of curiosity, and because my local lab no longer sends B&W film out to be developed. When they did so, my negatives would sometimes come back scratched, poorly developed, and with dust. The care extended to even an average home developing process will blow away what you have sent out. Think hand care, versus “mass production”.
  5. It’s yours, soup to nuts. You own it, from the moment the shutter clicks, to when you are loading the tank, pouring your chemistry, and scanning the completed negative. This is unbelievable fun.

Here is some of what I developed this weekend. these were taken at The Old Stone Church, in West Boylston, Massachusetts, on the banks of the Wachusett Reservoir. This beautiful spot is on The National Register Of Historic Places. Well worth the effort-

The Old Stone Church, West Boylston, Massachusetts, As Seen From The Wachusett Reservoir

The Old Stone Church, West Boylston, Massachusetts, As Seen From The Wachusett Reservoir

The Old Stone Church, Up Close- A Very Popular Central Mass. Photographic Subject

The Old Stone Church, Up Close- A Very Popular Central Mass. Photographic Subject

Steeple And Roof

Steeple And Roof

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4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned In The Darkroom – What Home Film Developing Taught Me

  1. It looks like this roll has suffered from some bromide drag, as evidenced by the “theatre light” effect that matches up with the sprocket hole spacing. Therefore, you might want to change your agitation strategy. Are you just using the agitation stick to twirl back and forth? You may want to switch to inverting the tank upside down and rightside up again to agitate. Also, a presoak helps.

    Glad you’re enjoying home developing! It really is fun, easy, and addictive.

    • Thank you most kindly for stopping by my blog, Richard. Please share with me, and my readers, how you know?!

      PS- I LOVE home developing so much, in case you can’t tell?!

      -Arthur

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