As many of you might know I am a big time film fan, in particular because I adore being a part of the entire process, from camera to negative to print. I have been self-developing b&w film for over two years now, more so now than ever, since I have begun working with the wondrous 120 film (there will surely be a post coming soon declaring my utter love). Recently I have gotten a few requests for advice on how to get started doing your own self-developing so I've decided to start a tutorial here on the blog on the basics of doing self-developing.
As a disclaimer I will say that I am surely no expert. I merely can walk you through the steps and methods that I've learned and that work for me, as a starting point to finding your own ways/methods. Also, let me clarify that this developing is specifically for black & white film.
So, with no further ado, I give you the first installment of Self-developing 101: The Supplies Edition, everything you need to get started:
1.changing bag- it's basically a giant slippery t-shirt with no neck and two zippers at the bottom. The one I have is I think the 27x30 size. I wouldn't advise getting one any smaller, you need to be able to move around freely in there.
2. developing tank- everyone you talk to will give you different opinions about the best kind. Personally I think that whatever you learn with will be your preference, it's that simple. My plastic tank isn't the fanciest or the best but I will say that I bought a fancy stainless steel one when I switched to 120 film and I HATE it. Other people swear by them. In my humble opinion, I'd go with a plastic tank- they're cheaper and another nice thing is that they can fit either 2 rolls of 35mm or 1 roll of 120.
3. three plastic containers- doesn't matter what kind you get, I just got something cheap at the corner store. It IS important, however that they have measurements on the side and that they hold at least 25 oz.
4. 1 gallon plastic graduated mixing pitcher
6. bottle opener that has a rounded edge
7. plastic spoon
8. 1 1/2 oz graduated 'shot glass'
9. photo thermometer- it is important that you get one specifically for photo so that it is designed to read temperatures high enough. I had a digital one but at first but it gave me a lot of issues so I switched to the analog type and am very happy with it.
10. digital timer! (sorry, I forgot that in the picture)- this is a must.
And now for the chemicals you will need:
First of all, you'll need two 1 gallon containers pictured here (though only one of them needs to be light blocked) and one 1 quart container.
In terms of the chemicals, you can really use any brands/types you'd like. Here I am including what I use and what is usually the most cost-effective and easy to find.
1. 1 gallon D-76 developer
2. 1 gallon Fixer
3. 1 1/4 gallon Hypo clearing
1. 16 oz. bottle of Indicator Stop Bath
2. bottle of Photo Flo (you might want to get a smaller bottle than I have pictured here- it will last you forever!)
So that's all you need to start! The next installment of the tutorial will talk you through mixing the powdered chemicals. You need to do this at least the night before you begin developing because they mixed at specific temperatures and need time to cool down.