Return to the Developing Tank

My name is Andy, and I used to develop film, but I’ve like given it up yeah?

Seriously though, back in the dim and distant past of the late 70s, like a lot of amateur photographers I got into processing my own monochrome film, developing it and then printing it. All great fun, even down to the all pervasive smell of fixer (I used to have a pair of cut off jeans I called my printing shorts which used to honk of the stuff). But time moved on, I moved on, didn’t have anywhere to do it, gave away my stuff, etc etc. Then moved onto digital and wow, was it ever convenient. But then a year or so back I started to get into shooting film again, because, well, it’s different. And that led me back to a feeling that I should be processing my own film once more. I could kid myself it’s about cost, or getting more control over my process by being able to push or pull film, or get different contrast with different developers and stuff. But really, deep down, I just wanted that feeling of unwinding the film and seeing the images there, like magic, in a long strip. So a bit of online shopping, a new Paterson tank for a birthday gift, acquiring my old mother in law’s home made changing bag, and I was ready to go. For the first time in 35 years I was going to process film.
Now one thing I realised was that, actually, back in the day when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was really pretty bloody sloppy about all this, but with age comes a desire to do things more properly, to accurately get the temperatures right, to wear disposable gloves, to not have a pair of cut off jeans unsuitable for non-photographic company, etc. But along with that since then with the advent of online shopping, and a general drop in technology prices, it was easy to get everything I needed ready. Also, and this was a real revelation, I could get a smartphone app called Massive Dev Chart in which I put the film and developer and it worked out all the times…and counted them down for me, with annoying little noises to remind me I should be agitating. Bit of a mild panic while my fingers remembered how to load a developing tank but once I’d got past that hurdle it was all rather plain sailing. The app told me when to agitate, stand, rinse, fix, rinse, etc etc etc…and then, after the final rinse….I pulled the roll of film out of the tank with some trepidation. I think as much because I was worried that the magic had gone as much as the idea the roll would be blank, or black, or full of light leaks or some such other disaster.

There they were. 36 negative images. I hung it up over the bath (even in my new ‘do it properly’ mode drying tents are for sissies). Pure magic. Like it was back then. Here are a couple of images from that roll – one thing I will say for scanning negatives rather than real printing though – it’s so much easier to get rid of marks with photoshop!



I’m Andy, and I do developing…but I could stop…if i wanted to!

One thought on “Return to the Developing Tank

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s