Monday, January 18, 2021

Beginner Film Photography :: Developing Color (C-41) Film at Home

      I had been talking about it for weeks (and putting it off for weeks), but I finally did it.  I developed my own color (C-41) film. People always talk about how they took a photography and film developing class in school, and unfortunately I never had an opportunity to do that.  This was a really cool experience, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared to mess it up.  By no means am I saying what I've done is the right or only way to do this, but it is what I found through careful research (AKA watching a lot of YouTube videos).  To achieve the best results possible, I did the following:

1)  I bought all the supplies necessary to develop the film.  I'll put a list at the end of this post if you're interested in seeing what I used.

2)  I made sure I had two rolls of color film to develop.  For this session, I had a roll of Fuji Pro 400H and Portra 400.

3)  I used a roll of film that I totally messed up on rewinding to practice with.  This means I practiced blindly spooling the film into the reels that go into the tank over...and over...and over.

4)  I watched a TON of videos of someone developing color film at home using the exact kit that I used which was the CineStill Kit that makes one quart (perfect for the bottles I got).

Here is the most helpful video I found.  I won't say how many times I've watched this video.

CineStill C-41 Film Developing Kit Video

     The directions that came with the kit were okay.  I felt like watching the video FIRST made the directiosn make more sense.  Every video I watched always stressed labeling your bottles.  This is a great tip.  There are only three liquids you will make, but with so much going on at the same time, I found having them labeled really prevented me from using the wrong thing at the wrong time.

These photos are from my cell phone.  I thought about taking nice photos of the process, but um, that wasn't gonna happen.  The best way I could describe this is to compare it to trying to cook 3-4 things in the kitchen at the same time.  You're constantly checking temperature (in my case, out of paranoia) and reading and rereading directions to make sure you're doing everything correctly. 

     I really thought loading the film onto the spools in the black bag blindly was going to be the most challenging part of the process.  At first there was this moment of panic because I couldn't see what I was doing, but once you take a deep breath and remind yourself that nothing horrendous could possibly happen, a sense of calm will come over you, and it will be fine.  I was able to open the film canisters, cut the ends off, and spool them onto the reels without any issues.  Make sure you close the lid of the tank securely - you don't want any light getting in there!

     One of the best things I got out of this was that I realized there was no need to be super obsessive abotu the temperature.  Yes, you do need to heat up the liquids, but they don't have to be exact.  Someone mentioned that in one of the videos I watched, and I'm relieved to know they were right.  I was probably off by about 10 degrees F, and it was totally fine.  You can imagine my excitement when I did the final rinse, opened up the tank, and saw this!  

     I felt like a fucking magician - and you will, too! 😉

     This little clothes hanger thing is perfect for hanging your film to dry!

Here's a list of everything I used to develop my own color film at home:
     One of the things I would've done a better job on in retrospect is to really make sure the film is dry.  I had a few photos that had visible water spots on them, so this is definitely something to look out for.  I also recommend clipping something to the bottom of the film to keep it as straight and flat as possible.  When you go to scan the negatives, it is a pain to deal with curved negatives.  

     Speaking of scanning, here are some of my photos from this batch.  They were scanned on an Epson V600 scanner.  This scanner is so easy to use, and now I understand why it's so popular for scanning film.  I did try to do this the cheaper route by buying one of those quick film scanners, but I will save you the trouble and tell you that the scan quality is HORRIBLE on those.  Do not waste your time and money.

     Enjoy the photos, and thanks for making it til the end! 😀

Converted to B+W


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