Back to the darkroom


My current set-up

I processed my first roll of film in 1974. 35 years. That first roll caused my heart to beat fast as I unwound the finished roll, still wet, and saw my very first processed negatives. That first processing tank, Sears Tower brand plastic tank with a hard to load reel. You had to thread the film from the opening to the end unlike using a stainless reel. Caused quite a few kinks and this first roll had a spot where the film touched and caused an issue. I still have this thing somewhere.

But it was my first roll processed. Just I recall several firsts in my life, such as first time to solo an airplane and land it.

It’s really no big deal. It takes a lot of practice to get to where you can shoot and process and get exactly the type of negative you want.

Now, after a 9 year hiatus, I am again processing film. I have to use a changing bag, which get a bit sweaty while I load up a reel. But it’s like riding a bike, I got back into the mental calculations on adjusting the processing to fit my shooting and type of enlarger I use. Sometimes you have to pull the processing a bit if the scene had a lot of contrast, sometimes you have to push a bit if the scene is flat.

I like a bit more snap to my images so I push about 5%, and agitate a bit more. I start with the recommended developing times and adjust from there. Without a good temperature control, I process the film at room temperature, or about 73 degrees.

However, I never process film if the developer is so warm as to cause a development time of under 5 minutes. Then I’ll add ice to the water bath and allow it to drop.
Like a lot of things, developing film is a personal issue, what works for me probably wouldn’t work for you. Unless you used the same printing paper and enlarger.

I have managed to be able to put a darkroom into almost every place I’ve lived. Currently, I darken my whole bedroom and set up the enlarger on a folding table. I prefer a walk-in closet dedicated to this, but it’s what I have to work with right now.

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