Reeling them in

First of all, I apologise for the really bad pun in this post’s title!

Anyway, as part of my preparation for developing my own film, several items arrived in the post this week.

I now own a darkroom bag, a film canister opener, film and photo developer, film and photo stop/fixer, film and photo wash and some photo paper (chemicals and paper all came from Ilford).

I did buy bottles of developer for the paper but managed to get hold of the simplicity starter kit for film which are small packs of developer which are ideal for developing two films (35mm).

I have decided which room I will convert to a dark room and what is required to enable this.

The red developing canister

Upon researching the development of film and photographs I learned about how to extract film from the canister and into a developing bath.

I could do this in the darkroom but wanted to see how I would get along with a darkroom bag.

You put everything that is light sensitive into the bag, seal it up so it is light-tight, then put your hands through two armholes (as if you were putting on a t-shirt incorrectly) and then have to fumble about in the bag.

I wanted to practice this before I try it with an actual film I want to develop so bought a cheap roll of 35mm black and white film.

I placed int the bag; the film, developing canister, canister film spool, canister lid, scissors and the film canister opener.

It’s quite tricky at first.  You have to film the canister opener and then locate the film – it’s a bit like trying to take a bottle top off a bottle which doesn’t have a neck.

Then you have to locate the end of the film and cut off the leader to leave a clean edge (whilst not stabbing yourself or ruining any of the exposures).

Next, you have to find the spool and the entry point to feed the film into it.  Then twist the spool to feed the film onto it.

Once that’s complete you have to cut the film away from the roll.  Place the spool pin into the spool. Put that into the canister the right way up, then secure the lid.

All whilst within the confines of an extra large t-shirt.

I was given two different canisters for developing my film and used the first (red) one but found it difficult to locate where the film went onto the spool.  I ended up using my nail to find the groove.

I also found this one a little hard to wind on and the film tended to kink up on the spool.  I managed to do it but it took a while (about 15 minutes) and the film wasn’t evenly on the spool which means it might not develop correctly.

The blue developing canister

I then tried a different smaller (blue) canister and this seemed to work much better.  I was able to locate the entry point for the film, immediately fed it onto the spool and had the whole canister sealed in under 6 minutes!

The film was much more evenly distributed onto the spool so I will be using the blue canister for my first proper film.

It was a little fiddly but I believe this is something you learn and as long as you take your time to think about what you need to do next, it works out quite well.

Next stop setting up the darkroom then repeating the process above with some live film and getting developing 🙂

I am so excited to be trying this.  I will be sure to keep you posted of developments (well I started with a bad pun, I might as well finish with one).

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