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Playing with Colour

Posted 2011.07.10 21.33 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

With the ability to process my own colour film, comes the ability to screw around and mess up my own colour film… Experiments and accidents and serendipity — the possibilities are numerous.

Pink Sky

Naturally, I had to have a go at cross-processing. That’s where you intentionally use the wrong chemicals to develop a particular kind of film.


Not blazing any trails here of course, cross-processing has been around for ages, and my first attempt was to do it the most-common way: develop slide film in negative chemistry. Or to be specific, E-6 reversal film, in C-41 chemistry.

The results were… not bad for my first try. I realize now that cross-processing probably messes with the exposure or development time, so I should have either pushed the film a bit or increased the exposure. For my next attempt I will try exposing it by an extra stop or two.

I really like the effect though – it’s like a dream, everything soft and indistinct and … pink? Apparently the Velvia takes on a pink hue when cross-processed. That’s another thing – every film reacts differently, and some are different from one day to the next within the same kind of film. Different exposures can have different results.

Press Kit

The camera was my plastic Holga medium-format ‘toy’, and the film was Fuji Velvia 100. My chemistry is the Tetenal / Jobo “C-41 Press Kit”.

The press kit comes as bags of dry chemicals and includes instructions on how to mix them. It’s actually very similar to doing black and white.

There’s the developer, then instead of a fixer you have a bleach/fixer (or blix as they call it) and then at the end instead of a long water rinse you have a stabilizer. So with the kit, you need three one-liter bottles, plus your regular film developing gear (tank, spools, et cetera).

C41 Film, B&W Chemistry

Posted 2009.09.25 9.35 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

So I’ve tried a few times to process colour film at home in Black & White chemicals. And I’ve had a few failures. It started out as a lark, then became a bit of a challenge and a learning process. In the meantime, I also got a newer, better scanner that has a bit more oomph in its transparency adapter and can better manage the darker negs that colour film produce. (Darker due to a built-in orange mask.)

My most-recent attempt actually produced workable results! Pitty I wasn’t trying to take good pictures.

What happened was, I picked up one of those disposable / one-use cameras. It was cheap, a ‘store-brand’, and mostly I wanted to take it apart to get at the shutter assembly and the electronic flash components. So I had 27 frames of film to piss away, and I did just that, snapping here there and whatever. The film was ISO 800 which is very fast (for me at least, I used to think 100 was ‘standard’ and 400 was ‘very fast’; now 400 seems standard.)

Anyhow, so at the end of the day I had managed to waste the whole roll and took the camera apart to get it out. The no-name camera contained a roll of no-name film. I had been hoping for some clue as to who made it, so I’d have some hope of knowing what to expect. No luck. So I snipped off a bit of the leader then loaded the rest into my developing tank.

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Playing with Chemicals

Posted 2009.09.06 17.51 in Hobbies, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

I remember back in high school, I think it was grade 10, when the science teacher banned me from doing experiments. Whomever I was partnered with, got to play with the chemicals and I had to take the notes. It seemed terribly unfair, although it probably saved the school some money and agravation.

Though I maintain to this day that it wasn’t my fault — the textbooks simply should not ask “What do you think will happen if you…?” unless it’s something they realize you might try. After all, it’s science! Empirical data beats speculation hands-down. Why wonder what might happen, when you have the vial in your hand and the beaker on the desk? Just find out!

But I digress.

Having recently got my hands on some chemicals for developing black and white film, and having some colour film laying around, I decided I wanted to find out just how ‘well’ the two would mix. I’ve read that you can process colour negs with b&w chemicals, but I’ve also read that it’s tricky and takes a lot of trial and error to make it go.

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Developing Film

Posted 2009.09.06 11.11 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

It’s not as hard as you think!

Tri-X 400 black and white filmYesterday, I wrote that I had processed my first roll of film in over a decade. In fact, with hardly any time I was able to refresh my memory on what needed doing. It’s realy quite simple – there’s three main steps. Develop, Fix, and Rinse.

In terms of equipment, really the only thing you need to invest in is a developing tank. I have a plastic Patterson Super System 4 tank which can hold two 35mm reels. The key to the developing tanks is that once the film is properly loaded and the tank is closed, you can then pour liquids in and out, without any light reaching the film inside. There are a number of different tanks available, I like the Patterson system because it’s pretty easy to use, and the reels are more or less easy to load.

Along with the tank, you also need a light-proof place where you can get the film out of the little metal cannister and into the tank. Red light isn’t safe – it has to be completely and totally light-proof dark. A windowless room would be good, or a closet, or something like that. If light gets through around the door, you need to fix that. Lock yourself in for 5 or 10 minutes so your eyes adjust, then look for any light.

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