B&W Technique

Developing B&W, Notes for Kate

Truman, Hexar RF, 50 Hex, Delta 400, TMax Dev

Developing your own B&W is fun and easy to do in as little as 27 simple steps! Follow these instructions for developing your own rolls of Delta 400.

  1. Make yourself a good stiff drink. Whenever you get bored waiting on time to slip by, take a drink. It keeps you from trying to multitask, and multitasking is the death of film development.
  2. Wash your hands. You don’t want all the oils and dirt not to mention lotions that normally coat your hands all our over your clean negatives.
  3. Put the Patterson tank, two reels, the funnel like lid (we use the flat lit later), two rolls of film (Delta 400), the bottle opener and the little orange scissors in the changing bag.
  4. Close up the changing bag and load the reels. If you find you have forgotten something, like the lid, you can push the film off into one corner, fold the bag over it and open up the bag without exposing the film.
  5. Load the film on the reels. Put the lid on the tank.
  6. Get out the pyrex mixing cup with the piece of masking tape on it. The top edge of the masking tape marks 600 ml, which is how much liquid it takes to cover two rolls of film.
  7. Pour 100 ml of TMax Developer into the pyrex. Fill to the tape line with distilled water.* Stir.
  8. Use the thermometer with the big ball of tape on the end to take the temperature of the developer solution. Use hot or cold water baths to get it to 75 degrees. **
  9. Take a drink while waiting for the developer to get to the right temperature. Be paitent, and drink your drink.
  10. Once you have hit 75 degrees, pour the developer mixture into the tank, set the timer for 5 minutes and agitate gently with the paddle thing for the first 15 seconds.
  11. Keep agitating for 5 seconds every thirty seconds. Drink your drink and rinse out the pyrex in the intervals
  12. Dump the developer solution down the drain. Yes, it’s bad for the environment, but it’s no worse than dish washing detergent.
  13. Fill the tank up with plain distilled water. This is your stop bath. *** Set the timer for 1 minute. Agitate gently. Go mix your fixer.
  14. Drink your drink.
  15. Give the pyrex another rinse. You need to pour in 125 ml of fixer, but this measuring cup doesn’t have a 125 ml mark, so just aim for the spot between 100 & 150. This part isn’t rocket science particularly since you are only going to use this fixer once, it won’t matter if the dilution is slightly off****. Fill to the tape mark (600ml) with distilled water. Stir and check the temperature. Ideally, the temp should be the same as for the developer, but as long as it’s warmer than 68, it’s fine.
  16. Dump out your stop bath. If the time has gone over, that’s fine. Pour in the fixer. Set the timer for three minutes. Agitate as you did with the developer.
  17. When the three minutes is up, dump the fixer down the drain. The film is now light safe, so you can pop off the funnel lid. Take a peek if you are anxious.
  18. We wash with a modified Ilford method using 7 baths of distilled water. This means you need about a gallon of water. You should have checked before you started developing, but you’ve been doing all that drinking. If you are short of water, you can use tap water for the first few baths, but you will probably end up with some water spots on your negs.
  19. Fill the tank with enough distilled water to cover the reels. Use the tupperware type lid to seal it off. Check the seal otherwise you will have water all over the place. Flip the tank over vigorously 60 or so times. Dump the water. It should be purple. Repeat for a total of three washings.
  20. Do three more washings the same as above, but let the water sit in the tank for three minutes – lots of drinking here – before doing the inversions. The water should be geting progessively less foamy and purple.
  21. You should have washed 6 times. Did you lose count? Then do another.
  22. While the water is sitting, mix up a batch of the super secret rinsing formula. 100ml rubbing alcohol (the 91% kind), 3 ml of photo-flo (use the syringe), and 500 ml of distilled water. Give this a swirl.
  23. After dumping out the last bit of wash water, dump in the rinsing formula. Be gentle. It’s like a beer. It will foam, but we don’t want a head on it.
  24. Let the film sit in the rinsing agent for a few minutes. If the house is particularly dusty, now’s the time to go run the shower for a few minutes to settle the dust.
  25. There are two hooks in the shower stall. Hang the negatives from these using the clips that are on the bathroom shelf.
  26. Use the giottos rocket blower to blow the water off the negatives. This is harder than it looks, but take your time. Between the distilled water, the rinsing formula and the blower, there should be very little water crud left on the negatives when we go to scan. You can tell this is important because the process is way over engineered here. Any sane person would have just used method and backup method, but spotting negs in Photoshop is a pain in the ass and leads to deep metaphysical doubts, which just leads to buying more digital cameras. So take your time and blow all the water off those negs.
  27. Close the shower stall. Close the bathroom door. Wash out all your tools. Make another drink. ***** Your done. Thanks for the help.

Impertinent Questions

* Er, doesn’t the bottle say mix 1 part developer with 4 parts water? Yes, but the bottle is wrong. The people at Kodak don’t know that everyone scans their B&W film these days, and that lower density is easier to scan.

** Isn’t 75 degrees kind of hot? Yes, but it keeps the developing time short and it seems to make the film look prettier.

*** Sir, why don’t we use stop bath? Because we aren’t smart enough to be able to mix three kinds of chemistry in one day.

**** Why do we only use the fixer once? Fixer is cheap. Exhausted fixer is bad. End of story.

***** What kind of drink? Whatever kind you like.

3 replies on “Developing B&W, Notes for Kate”

WARNING: With all that drinkin’ going on, be careful not to drink the developer or fix! Just another good reason not to use stop bath; that stuff is really nasty.

FWIW, I do my drinking _after_ hanging up the film. Too worried that I’ll swig the wrong bottle.

Good point. That’s why the chemistry goes in bottles, and the drink goes in a glass.

Always good to smell your drink just before taking a swig, just in case.

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