If you’re just joining us now, please see Part I here…
If you’ve been following instructions correctly, you should now have:
- A beer in your system (hopefully something with some decent hops…)
- Your film loaded into a developing canister, with funnel seated and locked, and lid available;
- Your chemicals mixed; and
- Your equipment assembled.
For this portion of our festivities you will require:
- A large sink and workspace, with running water present.
- All three chemical baths.
- A funnel.
- Some sort of timer.
- A digital thermometer (I bought a standard kitchen one from Target; the top of it should be wide enough such that it does not fall through the mouth of your accordion bottles)
- Two film clips (The black one is weighted–make sure you know which!)
The pivotal issue here, is that once your chemicals reach temperature, the process needs to be set in motion, and continue without being interrupted.
There are essentially FOUR steps that each require their own precise timing and temperature:
- A tap water pre-soak, to warm the film;
- The developer itself;
- The fixative (or Blix) to stop the developing process, and “fix” the film; and
- The stabilizer, which actually treats the film to prevent bacterial damage. Unlike B&W film which contains Silver (a natural anti-bacterial…) color film is a tasty gelatinous treat for fungi and bacteria. As a result, omission of this step will cause rapid and premature degradation of your negatives.
Fortunately (unless you are getting fancy with “pushing” the film and such…) there is little-to-no variability here with regard to film speed, manufacturer, timing, etc. It is basically “one size fits all!” NB: (there’s that phrase again…) Remember to save and reuse your chemicals!! The manufacturer claims you should get at least 8-10 rolls of 36 exp film out of each kit. At $20 for the kit, that isn’t too bad–less than two bucks a roll once equipment is purchased!
So…now you’re officially ready.
- Put all three chemical bottles in the sink. Open the developer. Wash off your thermometer and place it in the developer.
- Start the hot water running, and fill the sink to about six inches. The water should be hot enough to burn you. As hot as possible. It will take some time for everything to get up to temperature, and equilibrate.
- Watch your thermometer. When the temperature of the developer reaches approximately 101°F, you are going to want to start your water running slowly again, and try to find a point where the temperature of the water coming out of the tap is approximately 102°F. This water will be your pre-soak.
- When you are sure the tap water is about 102°F, place your thermometer back in your developer, and wait.
- Take a deep breath…When your developer reaches slightly above 102°F (say, 102.3°F or so…) it is GO TIME.
- Fill your canister with running water from the tap. When the canister fills, start your timer and drain the sink, but keep the tap running! Don’t worry about the temperature of your Blix: it may drift down to ~95°F without any ill effects. The Stabilizer may even be at room temperature.
- Wait one minute (1:00).
- Dump out the pre-soak, and pour in your developer. Reset the timer, and start it again. Agitate your canister for the first 30 seconds, and then for 10 seconds Every 30 seconds thereafter. Use SLOW agitations (one direction back/forth per second…) as aggressive agitation leads to more grain.
- When the timer hits 3:30, pour the developer back in the bottle with your funnel, and reset the timer. Evacuate the air out, and seal the developer bottle.
- Open the Blix, and pour it into the canister. Agitate for the first 30 seconds, and then for 15 seconds every minute thereafter.
- When the timer reads 6:30, pour the Blix back into the bottle. Reset your timer.
- Rinse the film with your warm, running water for the next 3:00 (Note: these next steps are not light-sensitive, and may actually be done with the lid off, and the canister funnel out). I use a combination of agitation, swishing, swirling, and pouring the water out. It does not matter what method you use, as long as you exchange the water in the canister frequently.
- When the timer hits 3:00, pour the last of the water out, and pour in your stabilizer. Agitate for the next 30 seconds, and then let the canister sit for an additional 30 seconds. Pour the stabilizer back into the bottle.
- In my experience, you still need a final surfactant and distilled water wash…especially as your chemicals age and become exhausted. (Some have advocated passing your chemicals through a coffee filter when returning them to the bottle; however, this is a messy hassle, and does not completely eliminate the problem of precipitates. I have successfully used good ‘ole Ilfotol (you only need about three mL…) with both distilled and tap water for the final wash, and it completely resolves the issue of crystalline deposition. Once you have treated the negatives with the stabilizer, return it to the bottle and take the funnel off of your developing tank. Pour in 3 mL of Ilfotol (or similar…Photoflo, etc). Then fill the tank with distilled (or “tap” if you’re “frugal”) water. Agitate for 15 seconds, then dump the solution down the drain. Gingerly remove your negatives and hang them to dry, with weighted clip at bottom.
Below is a chart which should summarize the process…Feel free to print it out and keep it in your pocket.
Hours later, scan your negatives, and send me a sample! Have another beer…and plan for the next roll!
NOTE: Please be sure to also read “What I’ve Learned”
and also: “Fixing your Color Development“
Good luck, and all the best,