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01-17-2014, 10:11 AM   #1
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Looking to find someone to show me the ropes on film developing

I pretty much gave up on film after getting a DSLR until my inlaws gave me their ME Super they bought to take baby pictures of my wife in the early 80s. That led to an LX purchase. I have a bunch of B&W film to shoot and there isn't a lab in the county where I live that processes B&W anymore. Closest lab I know of that processes in house is about 70 miles away and the cost of film developing and scans is to the point of cost prohibitive. Haven't been able to find anyone that can do it for less than $30+/roll.


I've picked up everything I need other than chemistry to start including a film scanner. I know there are a ton of YouTube videos out there on the subject, but I'd like to find someone willing to show me the ropes. I'm bouncing back and forth between Quantico, Va and Lancaster, Pa until May and then I'll be back in PA full time.


Anyone in either of those areas willing to help me get started? Thanks in advance.

01-17-2014, 10:24 AM   #2
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01-17-2014, 10:25 AM   #3
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Years ago I took a course at the local community college that involved printing and developing film. It was cheap and I learned a ton. Although that was back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, so I don't know if that type of course is still; being offered. Bet you cant be the only one who wants to learn that skill.
01-17-2014, 10:31 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sam Dennis Quote
Years ago I took a course at the local community college that involved printing and developing film. It was cheap and I learned a ton. Although that was back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, so I don't know if that type of course is still; being offered. Bet you cant be the only one who wants to learn that skill.


PA College of Art and Design is on the same block as the local camera shop and the college likely keeps that place in business. I suppose I could look into a class there, although it would have to wait until I move back to Pa full time.

01-17-2014, 12:16 PM   #5
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Just do it!

There isn't much to the basics, at least for b&w. The hardest bit is learning to load the film on to the reel. Buy a cheap roll of sacrificial film and practice loading it, first in daylight and then in the changing bag.

Then give it a go. The "Massive Development Chart" B&W Film Developing Times | The Massive Dev Chart is your friend for development times. Make sure you have an accurate thermometer because the developer temp is critical. Your other chemicals and rinsing water should be within a few degrees of the developer.

Your biggest enemies will be dust, scratches and water marks on the negatives. There are ways to minimise that. Once you have started, you will begin to refine your technique. You can teach some things but hands on practice will teach you more.

Good luck
01-17-2014, 07:12 PM   #6
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Ilford XP-2 Super 135-36 Black & White (Chromogenic C-41) Print Film (ISO-400) or the like. Uses C41 process which is the process for colour negative film and still quite common. You should then be able to get process & scan for a reasonable price.
01-17-2014, 07:33 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jtkratzer Quote
I pretty much gave up on film after getting a DSLR until my inlaws gave me their ME Super they bought to take baby pictures of my wife in the early 80s. That led to an LX purchase. I have a bunch of B&W film to shoot and there isn't a lab in the county where I live that processes B&W anymore. Closest lab I know of that processes in house is about 70 miles away and the cost of film developing and scans is to the point of cost prohibitive. Haven't been able to find anyone that can do it for less than $30+/roll.


I've picked up everything I need other than chemistry to start including a film scanner. I know there are a ton of YouTube videos out there on the subject, but I'd like to find someone willing to show me the ropes. I'm bouncing back and forth between Quantico, Va and Lancaster, Pa until May and then I'll be back in PA full time.


Anyone in either of those areas willing to help me get started? Thanks in advance.
You could just buy one or two books and learn on your own. Good ones are available used for very little money. That's how I got started...in 1973. It didn't ruin me completely. I went on to have a long professional career. The ability to develop skills via self-directed learning is rather useful.
01-17-2014, 10:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
Ilford XP-2 Super 135-36 Black & White (Chromogenic C-41) Print Film (ISO-400) or the like. Uses C41 process which is the process for colour negative film and still quite common. You should then be able to get process & scan for a reasonable price.

I shot a roll of the Kodak equivalent, the BW400CN I think it was. I think it was only available in 400 as well. I'd like to have some other options for speed plus the ability to have some input on the development process.

QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
You could just buy one or two books and learn on your own. Good ones are available used for very little money. That's how I got started...in 1973. It didn't ruin me completely. I went on to have a long professional career. The ability to develop skills via self-directed learning is rather useful.


Certainly, but I've also never found it valuable or financially wise to make the same mistakes others have made when they're avoidable. Seems learning from someone who has already made the mistakes and can help me make fewer of them along they would be a good idea.


Homebrewing beer and riding a motorcycle - easy to figure out what you did wrong. Maybe troubleshooting is covered in a book...haven't looked into that, just several how to vids on youtube. I could follow a recipe with the chemistry and temps, but really wouldn't have any idea what variable would need adjustment if/when something doesn't turn out properly.

01-17-2014, 10:51 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jtkratzer Quote
I shot a roll of the Kodak equivalent, the BW400CN I think it was. I think it was only available in 400 as well. I'd like to have some other options for speed plus the ability to have some input on the development process.





Certainly, but I've also never found it valuable or financially wise to make the same mistakes others have made when they're avoidable. Seems learning from someone who has already made the mistakes and can help me make fewer of them along they would be a good idea.


Homebrewing beer and riding a motorcycle - easy to figure out what you did wrong. Maybe troubleshooting is covered in a book...haven't looked into that, just several how to vids on youtube. I could follow a recipe with the chemistry and temps, but really wouldn't have any idea what variable would need adjustment if/when something doesn't turn out properly.
Good books provide much of the info needed for troubleshooting. The people who write books have also already made the mistakes, and part of their job is to help others avoid pitfalls. Books are far more than recipes for chemicals. (Incidentally, chemistry is the scientific discipline that studies the behaviour of chemicals. The use of the term "chemistry" instead of "chemicals" in photography is rather amateurish.) Unlike most online materials, competent books take a holistic approach to knowledge, providing the background information and context required to understand what you are doing and to systematically troubleshoot based on knowledge. For example, a good darkroom book will lay out the key variables in film development and give you a framework to determine when and why adjustments are appropriate.

I've found that one advantage of books is that they enable me to avoid others' mistakes, encouraging me to find imaginative new ways to screw up.

Many books about film photography, suitable for levels from beginner to expert, are available very cheaply used. It's just a matter of tracking down appropriate ones.

Unlike youtube videos, technical books are usually vetted for quality and accuracy. Really lousy ones generally don't get published.

As I said, I had a long career as a professional photographer- much of it involving highly technical work. A key to that career was developing the ability to systematically learn from written materials, which is something that professionals in many fields do routinely. Book larnin' was instrumental in my becoming very well-versed in digital imaging in the early 90s.

There is a considerable difference between well-planned self-directed learning and amateurish flailing around.
01-18-2014, 04:43 AM   #10
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What a shame you are so far away -- I could do your films easliy in 20 minutes - I have people to my house occasionally and show them and I have also put on many demonstrations at Brentwood Photo-Club here in Essex, England .. I learnt processing at the School Photo-Soc in 1951 and have been in 'Clubs' ever since. Try to find a Photo Club in your area.-- in Brentwood Photo Club there are several members who still do their own B&W processing and I do my own C41 Colour as well .
I have Loads of B&W chemicals all mixed up ready to go BUT NO WORK to use them !
01-18-2014, 07:20 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Good books provide much of the info needed for troubleshooting. The people who write books have also already made the mistakes, and part of their job is to help others avoid pitfalls. Books are far more than recipes for chemicals. (Incidentally, chemistry is the scientific discipline that studies the behaviour of chemicals. The use of the term "chemistry" instead of "chemicals" in photography is rather amateurish.) Unlike most online materials, competent books take a holistic approach to knowledge, providing the background information and context required to understand what you are doing and to systematically troubleshoot based on knowledge. For example, a good darkroom book will lay out the key variables in film development and give you a framework to determine when and why adjustments are appropriate.

I've found that one advantage of books is that they enable me to avoid others' mistakes, encouraging me to find imaginative new ways to screw up.

Many books about film photography, suitable for levels from beginner to expert, are available very cheaply used. It's just a matter of tracking down appropriate ones.

Unlike youtube videos, technical books are usually vetted for quality and accuracy. Really lousy ones generally don't get published.

As I said, I had a long career as a professional photographer- much of it involving highly technical work. A key to that career was developing the ability to systematically learn from written materials, which is something that professionals in many fields do routinely. Book larnin' was instrumental in my becoming very well-versed in digital imaging in the early 90s.

There is a considerable difference between well-planned self-directed learning and amateurish flailing around.


I must have unintentionally come across as argumentative with you earlier. I apologize. Different ways of learning, all I'm saying. I didn't learn to gut a deer by reading a book and I'm sure loads of meals prepared from cookbook recipes didn't turn out to taste or look like they do on those published pages. I'm not exaggerating when I say I've read thousands of pages of material over the last 6 months as I work through a career level school for the Marine Corps. I get the reading piece, but I'd also enjoy shooting and working with someone, not just to learn, but build a friendship. I think we sometimes forget that internet forums allow us to discuss, seek answers, etc with people all around the world because we likely don't have this community right down the street or in our contact lists to pick up the phone and call. Good, bad, or indifferent, the way information, published or not, is available is certainly different that 20 years ago, let alone 40. Remember, if no one asked for help or a critique on a photo, or no one was here to answer questions other than to point people to books, the forum wouldn't exist.


With your years of experience and multiple suggestions about learning from a book, I'm sure you have several book recommendations. Amazon isn't exactly returning pages and pages of relevant results for darkroom and film processing that appear to have been read by more than a handful of people. The first three pages fail to return a single book with more than 25 reviews other than those for Photoshop.


As far as the term "chemistry," amateurish or not, I'd say that's right where I am in my (lack of) skills and knowledge on the subject. Without having read any books, everything I've seen online in articles and video tutorials uses the term.


I contacted a local photographer on the localdarkroom.com and we talked about putting the calendars together after I finish school in May and he finishes relocating and getting set up.


I started Horenstein's Black and White Photography Manual, but haven't reached the development/darkroom sections yet.
01-18-2014, 08:52 AM   #12
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Some of us may never have experienced any developing/printing issues at all but I have seen others struggle even in a classroom setting. One student in particular that was in the first class I took could not put the film onto his stainless holder to save his life. While it could not have been more natural for me to use the stainless spools, I think the plastic wind on type seems more foolproof. Once in the tank, adding the chemicals is really a scripted routine. Write it down and make sure to label your chems in sequence order. Keep the gallon jugs of distilled water for use with your chemicals. Mark the expiration dates on them too.



Good luck and share your experience and results after.
01-18-2014, 10:14 AM   #13
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I took a b&w darkroom course at an Arts school close to where I live a few years back. It was a great way to learn b&w development and dry printing. Having other students who are also new to developing/printing helps you all work together and figure it out. The school also has an advanced course on darkroom, as well as a colour printing course.

If I was inclined to do my own development (I’m not) then the course was a good way to get started for a DYI darkroom. I happen to be blessed with three good Professional Photo Labs close to where I live, that do b&w, E6 and C41 as well as any type of printing/scanning you could want. Their prices are also good, so there is no incentive for me to do my own processing. I mostly shoot transparencies (colour and b&w) anyways.

Phil.
01-18-2014, 11:41 AM   #14
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I believe this site was the one I followed the first time I developed my own.

chromogenic.net - How To Develop Your Own Film

My one recommendation is to get a Paterson tank with the ratcheting reel--I ruined a roll or two forcing the film on an old cheapo developing tank. My two cents.
01-18-2014, 11:47 AM   #15
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Don't sweat it. Developing film is so easy even I can do it!

Chris
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