video: episode 20, how to develop black and white film for beginners


Process your own black and white film

Today’s video is something really different, we’ll take a break from lighting this week and get back at it next Monday. It’s fun to change things up, it keeps things interesting and it seemed like this video could fill a need.

There are a few different reasons you might want to shoot with film. Maybe you prefer the feel of a vintage, mechanical SLR (EpicEdits has a great post on film vs. digital cameras) . And if you’re going to shoot the old-fashioned way, why not give processing your own black and white film at home a try? It’s not quite a lost art yet…as a matter of fact, it may be regaining popularity. Young photographers that have only known a digital world are especially curious. I hope this video proves a helpful resource for those wanting to get started. You’ll also need a way to scan the film to get the images into your computer. Or, better yet, find a local darkroom to print them old the old-fashioned way.

For those of you (like me) that have developed thousands of rolls of black and white, maybe you’ll want to take this journey just for the memories. Too bad I can’t conjure up the smell of fixer for you through the video.

For some things it’s best to see a video demonstration, like loading a reel or agitating a tank. To really process film, though, you’ll want to have a written guide handy. For great (free) information straight from the experts, check out:

Ilford’s wonderful pdf, processing your first black and white film

Kodak’s black and white tips and techniques

***Subscribers view video here:***

Remember, the steps are:

  1. Load film in darkness
  2. Developer
  3. Stop Bath
  4. Fixer
  5. Rinse with water
  6. Photo-flo
  7. Hang to dry

If you don’t have a local camera store that sells darkroom supplies, I was able to make a grouping of products (thanks to Amazon.com) so you can see some recommendations, including reading. Trying to show you all of those products in any other manner would have taken hours, so thanks to Amazon.

P.S. I mentioned in the video that this was episode 20. Well, though there are over 20 videos on prophotolife but there wasn’t an official video episode 19. Somehow, it got passed by. Episode 19 will now be known as “the lost episode”.