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10-22-2021, 08:29 PM   #1
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Various newbie questions on developing film..

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I thought i would like to try caffenol - and got myself a patterson tank for a song , used. All with 0 knowledge in developing film!
The store I got it from showed me how to load a film on the patterson reel, basically, put the leader on the reel track, and then do the clicky-clicky motion until the end of the film, then just YANK the film out of its canister.
Easy enough.

1. Can i use ANY red light bulb for darkroom? For example, these : amazon basics
2. If instead of a dark room i'd like to use a black bag, do I need to load the film on the reel *INSIDE* the bag? Why? Isn't it okay to expose the first part of the film to light, i mean, that part is the part that is exposed to light when we load it up in the camera anyway?
3. Youtube and other resources are talking about scissors or bottle opener to open the film canister. Did the store I was talking to made a mistake - when telling me i can simply YANK the film out of its canister?
4. Caffenol recipe calls for "24g Washing soda (multiply by 2.7 if your soda is crystalline -> 65g)" : How do I know if my soda is crystalline or not? Or did it literally mean washing soda that looks like mini crystals?

Huh, this is more confusing than i thought, maybe it isn't that easy. lol.
Thanks for the help...

10-22-2021, 11:57 PM   #2
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Handling film must be done in COMPLETE darkness or you’ll fog it. No ifs, no buts. Practice with a spare length until you’re confident. It’s years since I last developed any and I don’t know what modern film cassettes are like, but the Ilford metal ones were quite easy to pull the end cap off and remove reel and film. I always rewound the film fully back into the cassette anyway.

Hoping to start loading film into the tank spiral before going into a darkroom or using a bag ? I bet you fog your first 10 frames…
10-23-2021, 02:33 AM   #3

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Use a proper film changing bag which is light tight. Film is delicate stuff, never yank it about. Use scissors to cut the film free from the spool. A bottle opener works well for opening canisters.
10-23-2021, 08:53 AM   #4

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Location: Pugetopolis
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Today, with modern film, a darkroom 'red light' is for prints. The light produces wavelengths longer than the print paper's sensitivity. A random hardware store purchased red light with no wavelength specifications will need a darkroom red light test to see if doesn't fog the paper and is a satisfactory substitute for the real thing.

I would recommend you follow a developing procedure from Ilford or Kodak for your first time and do not take any short cuts in order to form a baseline process. Agitation profiles from those two manufactures are different and can affect your results to a mild degree (eg diffusion vs condenser enlarger contrast range) when using say a Kodak agitation profile on an Ilford published development time (and the other way around).

That way you will most likely only need to troubleshoot issues with exposure and development time in lieu of those two things coupled with any possible procedure/chemicals issues from something you are not sure of. After you can successfully develop film, then do your experimenting with other film, developer and procedures.

Last edited by tuco; 10-23-2021 at 10:17 AM.
10-23-2021, 11:15 AM   #5
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Original Poster
Thanks all!
Hmm...sounds like I may have to splurge and get an actual dark room safe light - as I wouldnt know what to look for if i was going to get a normal hardware store red light. I will safe the bag method for much later, i think...when i am comfortable doing it.
I will prob ask more questions! thanks for the help

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