Developing films at home
Film photography is back!
Kodak have even announced that they are going to restart producing some of their old films again and are looking at new films they could produce.This is good news for analogue photographers like myself.
When the Impossible Project began in 2008 by rescuing the last remaining Polaroid film factory and equipment it ensured that instant film photography would continue. Indeed, it has even gained a new life in the form of refurbished old Polaroid cameras, the Fuji Instax camera range and the Lomography instant camera range. There is still nothing like the excitement of watching a photograph develop before your eyes and the new interest in instant photography has made it possible for new generations to experience that excitement.
I have had an interest in film photography since I was a teenager and lived for many years in the company of an Olympus Trip and a Praktica TL1000. For a long time my film cameras lived side by side with a Nikon wide angle digital camera and a Sony DSLR. Eventually though finding films and then getting them developed in the UK proved to be too difficult. I sold on my analogue cameras and moved into purely digital photography.
Then, a few years ago, I came across a Lomography Sampler at the Science Museum and had a great time taking multishot images. I passed on the Lomo about the same time as I acquired a box of old 35mm film cameras from a charity shop. I created a mini museum in my flat to film photography but had to sell them all when I moved into a houseshare. It was a sad moment.
Now, life has settled down a little bit and I have more time (and money) to indulge in photography. A few months ago I purchased an old Fuji Instax 10 0n eBay and had a great time taking instant photos. The quality was none too brilliant as the camera was very basic but I had fun for a while. I sold it on a few weeks ago with the intention of buying a newer model but then …
I rediscovered 35mm film at the Photographer’s Gallery in London. Boom! I went online and acquired a Canon Ixus (which takes weird compact films) and a Pentax SLR. Old style 35mm film is not particularly expensive thanks to the Lomography company from Vienna and Foma in the Czech Republic. The cost of development is pretty hard on the pocket though. I took a film from my Ixus to be developed and got a bill for £11.99. That hurt and I realised that if I was to continue experimenting with analogue film I would need to learn how to develop my own films.
This is where I am now at.
There is a lot of interest on old style photography and film developing at the moment so I was outbid on eBay quite a few times before securing a Paterson developing tank. The tank is now sitting on the dining table ready to be used. The tanks is what films are developed in. It consists of a black plastic tank, two reels onto which you wind the film, a stirrer, a funnel and a lid to prevent the liquids seeping out. The hard bit about the developing process seems to be winding the film onto a spool in the dark.
The plan is to have a go at home developing using common household products such as instant coffee, vitamin C powder, washing soda, white vinegar and salt water. The process is called Caffenol and there is a wonderful YouTube video on it: Caffenol Photo Processing. This is also a good film on the process: HD Caffenol Processing. A group in Leicester had a go a year ago: Leicester Photography Walk with happy results.
I can’t wait to get going.