Processing - beginner - where what how.
I've had a good look/search around the forum but I cannot see anything on starting your own processing only, especially in the UK, so here's my question:
I am thinking of buying one of the starter kits for processing 35mm black and white (made by AP I think, from shops like Firstcall or Nova) but I cannot find any 'starter kits' for the chemicals. I have watched a couple of youtube clips and there seems to be four of them that I would need.
So if I buy the measurers and reel etc, I assume that I have to buy the bottles individually. Should I try for the same manufacturer for these or just pick and mix, and what sizes (based on how long they will keep) should I start with? I would appreciate just a list of what bottles to put on my order with the starter kit or any suggestions at all.
Thanks in advance, Jonathan.
Get this book. It will show you everything you need to know. All my students use it.
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We published a beginner's processing article in the July issue of Creative Image maker magazine.
The link is in my signature. It's not the processing Bible but it lays out a workflow that is easy to pick up and run with. As to chemistry, I would look into Ilford chemistry. The folks at AgPhotographic could be of immense help.
Generally you need developer, stop and fixer for film but depending on your budget and how much space you have you can forget the stop bath. You don't need to buy everything from one company.
My first developer was (and the one i still use for the most part) Kodak HC110. Mostly because it lasts a long time, and is cheap per roll. Ilfotec HC is pretty much the same thing.
I'd forget the stop - i didn't use it for years and only use it now because it's a little faster and i have it around. Just fill the tank with water, vigorously agitate and dump 3 times.
You can pretty much buy whatever fixer, unless you plan on using old style emulsions that benefit from a hardener. Then you should get one with a hardener. Fixer lasts quite a long time, so i wouldn't worry too much about it - just replace it every so many rolls (should say how many on the bottle, just keep a tally on the container) or about every 6 months.
I had issues with water spots on my film, so i'd reccomend buying some Photo-flo (that's what kodak calls it, can't remember the term for it) with the money you saved on stop bath. What i do is after i've washed my film, i mix up about 2ml Photo-flo with enough distilled water to cover the reels. I pour that in, swish the reels around a bit, and pour a bit of rubbing alcohol on the surface of the water to get rid of any bubbles. Photo-flo lasts pretty much forever, which is good since it'll take you forever to use up a bottle.
I'm sure someone will come along with reasons you should do stuff differently from above, but that's what i did starting out, and stuff seems to have turned out ok.
Welcome to APUG.
I'd suggest looking through the "Getting Started" section which is in the "Applications" section of the Ilford/Harmann website.
Here is a link:
In that section, under the link "Processing a Black and White Film" you will find a link to a pdf document with the same title. There are specific recommendations there for appropriate chemistry, plus information about capacity.
There are a lot of other good suggestions (I myself am quite partial to many of the Kodak alternatives) but the Ilford information is excellent for beginners, especially those who are in the UK.
Hope this helps - and have fun!
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And if you look here, http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/ a new online supplier in the UK that was just announced in a thread here, you can order whatever you need.
Thank you for the replies.
Pinholemaster: I remember seeing that author's books in Borders. I have put it on my list. I presume the most recent edition is not crucial.
ChrisW: I clicked through to your mag a while ago but forget seeing that. I will peruse some more.
CW: I will come back to what you said when I get it all worked out in my head. My worry about not using 'the stop' would be forming a bad habit at the beginning, so I will probably choose the lengthy method and drop anything redundant later on.
Matt: Thanks for that. I actually printed the pdf out late last night and looking at it now, it does mention the four liquids, all with Ilford names, which, providing they still sell them, should be exactly what I need. Hopefully they still sell them in small bottles (the pdf is from 2003) as well.
Bob and Chris: I noticed the Ag darkroom equipment advert in this month's B&Wmagazine (I'm getting into film just as they are getting out - smiley). It struck me because it shares the same name as Ag magazine, which I have started subscribing to (because B&W is going downhill with the rest of them and I remember Ag being quite good).
So, I will start with keeping it simple: going for the Ilford set if I can and following their method in the pdf. I also noticed last night that the auction site has lots of different collections of used darkroom equipment. I figure if I can match the essentials, which are listed on the nova darkroom site, included in those 'starter kits' for processing, I can save a bit of money and maybe get some extra things for when I hopefully go on to setting up or borrowing a darkroom.
Cheers everyone. This is exciting.
There have been many books written on the subject of film processing, many of them in the 1970s and 1980s. As you suggest, having the most recent edition is not important as the process hasn't changed for many years.
Originally Posted by talkingfish
Have a look in secondhand book shops. I have picked up quite a few good photography books from Oxfam shops.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
Welcome to the dark side Jonathon. It's good to see newcomers getting into this wonderful craft. Takes me back to when I first started and the never ending search for knowledge and info (still looking after 20 yrs!!).
With regards to equipment, the big auction site is the best place to go. Prices in the shops, even for secondhand can be alot more expensive, although I guess it may be more convenient if you find all the stuff a bit confusing. The new ag business metioned above would be very helpful with getting you started.
As far as chemicals .. I'd suggest Ilford for everything, at least to start with. The supply and distributuion is 1st class here in the uk and while there's no problem with using other brands, I think it keeps it simple and less confusing for a novice.
Trial and error is probably the way most of us have learn't but it does have a lot of frustrations along the way ! Ideally, some one-to-one hands on tution is the way to go but with few people still practising these ways it's not easy to find.
Thanks again for the responses.
For the record, I went with Silverprint. I would have tried Ag but they didn't list anything under 'Wetting Agents' and thus no Ilfotol. Firstcall have a good website, they had a handy sized bottle of fixer (500ml) and their prices are competitive but when I checked the Apug sponsor list, only Silverprint was listed.
It is pretty convenient really, to just look up the list online, browse a few websites, and sit back and wait for the magic chemicals. Now all I need are a few badly-exposed negatives, which I shall get to work on straight away.
All the best, Jon.