Developing Black and White Film at Home

Why not shoot film?  "I have to send it off to get developed and it takes to long for me to see my photos."  WRONG!!!  If you are taking the time to shoot film you might as well develop it.  It isn't that hard, in fact it is pretty easy.  There are a number of tutorials on the internet, including videos on YouTube and they do a much better job of teaching than I do.


All of the rumors are false.  The chemicals needed to develop black and white film are readily available, economical and safe to use.  I order my chemicals from B&H Photo or the Film Photography Project Store.  I find both sources to be reliable and economical.  You will need a developer, stop bath (some omit this step and just use water), fixer, fixer remover (some omit this step and wash their film longer) and a wetting agent.


The concerns about making a mess are also unfounded.  Readily available household items make the developing neat and orderly.  I use old iced tea containers as jugs for my chemicals.  You can purchase dedicated bottles but, why spend the extra money.  I purchased separate measuring cups at a local store for each chemical.  This keeps the process simple and easy to clean up.


The actual developing process occurs in a light sealed film tank.  This will probably be your most expensive purchase when entering the do it yourself world of developing.  I found several used tanks and purchased them at a substantial savings.  Loading the exposed film also requires practice and you will have to do this part in complete darkness.  It's not that hard a little bit of practice with some discarded film and it is easy to learn.


Trust me, when you pull your first developed film out of the developing tank, you will be amazed.  Every time I develop film I am awe struck.  This is something you cannot find in the digital world.  You will find yourself connected to the photographs in a way that is different that looking on the back of a digital camera.

Let the negatives dry and bring them into the modern world.  You can scan the negatives or make prints using an enlarger.  In this day and age it does not really matter.  

It's the process that makes this a great hobby for me.


The finished product after developing and scanning the negative. 

I can only hope someone sees this post and says, they will give it a try.  You will not be disappointed.  There are no "presets" that substitute for the real look of film.  None, that I have found anyways.  I do this for the love of it.  Hopefully you will too.  

Once you learn the techniques of Black and White film developing, you next hurdle is color C41 film processing.  It is truly as easy as Black and White.  In fact, the color photos in this post were shot on color film and I developed them.  If I can do it, anyone can.