People often get put off developing their own black and white film due to the thought of mixing chemicals and the myth of having to have everything exactly right. The truth is, that it’s not actually that hard, and it is a very rewarding experience to have full control and continuity over your negatives. Developing can teach you so much about photography, not only in terms of exposure and how you should expose, but also understanding contrast and each film’s traits.
This is how simple it is:
1. Load the film into the tank in the dark bag
2. Mix the chemicals to the correct ratio using the beaker and measuring jug at around 20 degrees.
3. Pour the chemicals into the tank, timing them with your app or stopwatch and then rinse for a few minutes and hang up to dry.
What are the advantages of developing your own film?
Pushing and pulling
pushing and pulling allows you to two things mainly. It allows you to shoot in low light/very bright conditions boosting or reducing your exposure in development (+1 to +3 or -1 to -3 stops). It also allows you to alter the films usual characteristics such as contrast and grain. This may not seem like a big deal at the start of developing, but if you really want to control and ‘know’ film, it’s time to start pushing and pulling. It all sounds a bit technical, but all you need to is develop for a longer/shorter time (and of course rating your film at the correct ISO during exposure).
The photo below was taken on Tmax 400 which was then pushed +3 stops in development. This was shot at 1/60 with a f2.8 lens with no flash. Pushing your film means you can take pictures in darker circumstances and create a more dramatic image using contrast.