Forget Instagram: Develop your own film

Todays post is a guest post on the basics of developing your own film. If you would like more details on how to accomplish this post a comment below and i’ll provide some additional details.

Forget instagram: how to develop your own film
A guest post by Dominic Taylor

These days, it’s all about instant images. Anyone can be a photographer providing they have a decent mobile phone and anyone can publish their images for the world to see via instagram and social media networks. The second a picture has been taken, it can be liked, shared and seen.
However, to print out an image is not quite so easy. It requires special software, expensive inks and photograph paper – the plain paper printing alternative never produces a good finish. The other option is to download an image to a processing site and order it, paying for production and postage into the bargain. Though it’s not quick enough for some.

The concept of negatives might seem ‘old-fashioned’ to some amateurs, but the joy associated with taking and developing your own film is still enjoyed by many people. Here’s how you can do it in your own home:

Strike a pose

There is quite a lot of equipment required for developing film in this way. You’ll need a darkroom which allows no light in. This could be a converted shed, garage or loft, but it must be completely dark lit only by using a ‘safe light’. Your darkroom might feature an enlarger to project the negative onto photographic paper, if you are going to print your own photos. The enlarger can be adjusted to sharpen the focus and intensity of the image. You’ll also need a special developing tank called a light-trap. To prevent over-exposure, images will need to be dipped in several chemicals: developer, a stop bath and then photo fixer.

Say cheese
Step one: in your darkroom, the removed film should be transferred to a reel, loosely wound to allow chemicals to flow between layers. It is then placed in the light-trap tank into which the diluted developer solution is poured (provided it has reached the right temperature). Leave to develop for the appropriate time as listed on the developer bottle, then flush well with stop bath, followed by water.

Ready for my close up

Replace the water with fixer and leave again for the stated time, then discard. Fixer can be reused up to a point, possibly up to four times, but it cannot be poured down the sink or toilet. It is a chemical and as such, professional fixer disposal is required. It’s worth finding out about before starting the developing process. Rinse out again with running water.

The camera never lies

Your film is now developed and safe to be removed from the tank. At this point, you no longer need to operate under dark room conditions and can open the windows, turn on the lights and go outside with the negatives as you wish. Carefully hang the film up to dry, keeping it dust and fingerprint free. Once dry, you can use the negatives to get prints made at a specialist shop, have them scanned onto a CD for cheaper printing or make your own prints.

It’s a long and fiddly process, but one that is possible to complete in its entirety at home. The satisfaction gained with developing your own film, then getting stunning prints made, is unparalleled.


Author Bio: Dominic Taylor is currently pursuing a course in industrial film making and script writing. He also takes interest in cinematography and film editing. You may find Dominic’s posts on many online journals and film related blogs where he shares his real-time experience on the use of fixer disposal.

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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