I have been developing my own black & white film at home for a month. It really saves me a lot of money. For shopping list of equipment, click here.
Imagine if I were to only shoot black & white, I literally do not need to step into Triple D lab anymore. Also, I find their price for b&w films being more expensive than others. Go to Ruby Photo in Peninsula- cheaper and more varieties.
Anyway, I wanted to blog about the ‘ugly’ side of self-developing.
I am still considered a beginner in film developing. I scratched my films, sometimes.
At first, everything went well. The process of loading both 35mm and 120mm films onto the film reel was smooth. Until one day, I decided to develop a medium format Ilford Delta 400 film on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Singapore doesn’t have four seasons. It’s summer all year round, with constant temperature of 28°C and above. I don’t switch on air-con to save on electricity bill. For sure I was sweating like crazy.
At that time, I didn’t know being warm can affect the way the film rolls onto the film reel. If you haven’t developed films before, the inside of a dark-bag is as hot as a sauna if you put your hands in for too long.
So, my hands were sweating profusely. Somehow it made the film sticky. I spent 1-2 hours trying to slot the film. The end product is a super scratched negatives.
I thought it was just a one-time accident. I didn’t know the stickiness is the main issue. So I repeated the whole thing with a second film, also with sweaty hands. This time round it was worse as I was too frustrated I opened the zip of the dark bag and the film got exposed.
You know for scientific experiment, we must always do triplicate. Thus, again, I repeated with a third film the next day, same condition.
Then, I went to Google and see if anyone faced the same problem. The people in forum said it’s due to wet film reel and sweaty hands. They suggested to do it in the closet. I did, but it’s still freaking hot inside the wardrobe.
After a few more hours of battle, I did it but the negative was severely scratched, again.
The more I don’t want the film to be ruined, the more I ruin the film. Then, I realised I am always dry after I shower. With a post-shower dry hands and air-con switched on, I decided to change my strategy.
As smooth as before!
Shit happens. I have consulted many film pro and they all say the same thing ‘Just need more practice’.
In conclusion, make sure your hands and the film reels are dry. Maybe wear gloves. To make a 35mm film slot easily, cut 45° chips at the two corners at the beginning of the film. If you also suffer this frustration, I hope this blog post has given you a bit of comfort that you are not alone.