The first time I processed my own roll of black and white film I was around 14 years old. Being very anxious to see the pictures I had taken, I couldn’t even wait for the film to dry. I first became interested in photography in seventh grade. My parents allowed me to buy some equipment and supplies to setup my own darkroom in our home. Everyday after school I rushed home to develop and print my own film. In my darkroom, away from the outside pressures of the world I enjoyed creating my own works of art throughout the remainder of my school years.
At 40 years old with a family and home of my own I still look forward to escaping the world for a little while in my own darkroom. Creating custom prints of your own can be a very rewarding and fun too. The first step in designing your own darkroom is to choose a room in your home with electric outlets, running water, and the least amount of light coming through the windows and doors. The room must be light tight, you can accomplish this by covering the windows with a black cloth or heavy gauge vinyl. To check for stray light, stay in the darkroom for five minutes with all the lights off. Hold a piece of white paper against a dark background, if you can’t see the paper, it passes inspection. If there are light leaks, use black electrical tape to cover them.
The materials needed to develop your roll of exposed film are available at any photo supply store. You will need to choose the type of chemicals and paper needed according to type of film used, desired affect, convenience, personal preference, and expense. The clerks in these stores are usually very knowledgeable and helpful, explain to them what you’re working on and ask plenty of questions.
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You will need:
1. developing tank 5. Thermometer
2. Roll of exposed film 6. Developer
3. Fixer 7. Running water
4. Timer 8. Can opener
To develop film you will need to load film into developing tank in total darkness. After tank is loaded lights may be turned on. Set timer for the film being used. Add developer to tank; consult film and chemical insert for time and temperature used. Agitate every thirty seconds. Drain developer back into developer jar, rinse in luke warm water, and drain. Add fixer solution to developing tank, leave in for 2-4 minutes, and agitate every minute. Drain fixer and return to jar. Rinse film in luke warm water for five minutes, and then hang to dry. Allow film to dry for several hours before doing any printing with it.
To make prints of your negatives, you will need an enlarger, safe light, four pans, paper frame, and chemicals used to make prints. Taking a basic photography course or buying a book on basic darkroom techniques can also be very helpful.