Developing film negatives for beginners

A couple weeks ago I did something that I had been wanting to do for almost six months now. I bought chemicals to develop three rolls of film I shot throughout the summer. Those chemicals were the first step I took in trying to develop at home. 

There’s a lot more to developing though. A light-proof changing bag, light-proof tank, thermometer, and a scanner are some of the other pieces of equipment you’ll need to produce images. The scanner wasn’t completely necessary because photo labs can cheaply scan negatives with much better quality.

What you’ll need:

The expenses add up pretty quickly, but considering that you’d be paying upwards of $12 to develop each roll, it’s worth the cost if you plan to shoot film consistently. The cost to develop a roll with your own chemicals and equipment averages out to about $2.50 a roll. 

When I finally had everything I needed, I proceeded to attempt my first roll.

Developing film in a fraternity bathroom brought about a plethora of challenges. The first one I encountered was maintaining the temperature of my chemicals. The lack of a funnel was also a problem. However, this was solved by pouring the liquid into solo cups (which can also be used to measure). 

Despite these setbacks, I was able to produce a few somewhat presentable images. 

When finally had my developed negatives, it was clear to me that I had made some mistakes in the process. 

The obvious one to me was that the temperature of my developer was too cold. My pictures had a blue tint to them, but it was easy to correct. 

Before color correction.

My scanner’s color correction surprised me. The scan came out much better than the negative. 

After color correction.

What I found out about film is that the physical imperfections often look like popular filters or edits. This is really good for me, because the first two rolls I’ve developed on my own have been full of imperfections like light spots, 

My personal favorite.

I have a lot more practice to do, but now that I know the process I can’t wait to shoot with film more.

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