So, as may have seen in my last post, I had a go at printing some pictures myself with the darkroom kit I bought but had mixed results, with the prints coming out almost completely dark, or looking like they were taken in the Crimean War (not necessarily a bad thing).
I’m quite keen to get control over the full process though, and as the kit included a development tank I thought I’d have a go. My wife and I went to Hunstanton and shot a roll of Kentmere 400, trying not to be too precious about the shots in case we ruined them. We then came home to develop them. Unfortunately at this point I realised I really needed a changing bag as nowhere in my house is completely dark during the day. I used to have one in my pinhole camera days but sold it, thinking it’d be highly unlikely for it to ever get used again. There’s a lesson there somewhere.
After looking at some solutions online, I managed to throw together a contraption of which Heath Robinson would surely have been proud. I took a couple of bin bags, cut arm holes in them, taped them together so they wouldn’t move about, and then put an old coat inside them, sticking the arms of the coat through the holes in the bin bag. I then inserted a foil lined freezer bag into the bottom. I now had a changing bag! To make doubly sure, I sat inside my wardrobe to try and keep the light out. As it was a hot day it wasn’t the most comfortable of experiences, however, as instructed, I had practiced removing the film and putting it onto the reel with a ruined film in daylight so I was able to do it relatively easily, sealing it inside the light-tight container. I was now ready to develop!
I found this guide from Ilford extremely helpful in terms of helping me to decide what chemicals to buy and the basic process. I enlisted the help of my wife and our trusty utility shed/darkroom while we played around with chemicals. After around 15 minutes – success! We had our first batch of negatives.
After hanging them up on our shower curtain for a hour or so, they were dry and we were able to take them down and cut them into smaller pieces. Luckily I had bought some negative file pages to help to store them as I know dust isn’t great for negatives. Now it was just a case of printing them.
Last time, the prints didn’t really work, coming out completely black. At the time I blamed it on the chemicals (which are out of date), but after thinking about it I think I probably overexposed them, completely blasting the photographic paper with light. I also realised that the aperture was too wide and that it needed to be stopped down a lot more to reduce the light hitting the page. Once I had taken these simple steps, we soon started seeing our first proper images emerging from the chemicals. It is still a magical process to me.
And here are the finished articles! I am aware that I am probably making the whole process very long-winded by taking them, developing them, printing them, scanning them in, and then posting them online, but I never said the whole thing made sense. Besides, I still get a pleasure out of film that I just don’t get from digital.
Next step? I took a lot of pictures with my Diana camera using the ‘exposed sprocket holes’ setting. I’m interested to see how they will come out..