The third time I developed my colour film at home it didn’t have a really sweet ending. I messed up and lost al my photos. With a little shame I decided to make a post so that you can learn from my mistakes. Sit back, relax and enjoy (:
The film I messed up was a Portra 400 that I shot while visiting my parents (I see them twice a year). There were photos of my parents but also the view over the Pyrenees taken from the plane, while the sunlight was shining over the snow. It was magical. I shot some double exposures inspired by Leo Amaya, who is a pro on landscape double exposures. Anyways, it seemed to be a really nice roll.
The things I did wrong…
I cared too much about temperature
The video I watched before developing this roll was about how important it is to have the temperature exactly like it says in the manual. I left the bottles in water being 38 degrees and I started with the developer. Developing went well but I found out that the blix was 1.2 under 38 and I started to stress. Developing time was over but I took like 5 minutes to get the temperature of the blix right. The developer was still working. As you understand the photos were pushed, but only parts of it.
Short story, it is very important to get your temparture right. But when starting just get both bottles at 38 and start developing without checking all the time. I feel like it’s true that you would get better results having the temperature totally perfect, and I am still working towards that, but some things come with experience and little by little. And so on I prefer security over perfection with this one.
Ways of agitating
Too much, too little, when, how etc. I really had to find this out and I tried different ways. My development tank came with a stick in order to turn the film around inside of the tank. The tank itself didn’t need to be turned upside down actually. However, for me this has never worked perfectly and I started to try out different ways. The best way for me is to turn the tank upside down instead of using the stick. Moving it upside down slowly gets the liquids on all places and gives an equal result. The timetable I use for that is as following; agitation up (1 sec.) and down (1 sec.) during the first 20 – 30 seconds. Then after every minute I agitate 5 – 7 seconds. Easier to watch a video? Willem Verbeeck explains this very well in his video “How I Develop Color Film At Home“.
This is how I messed up this roll of film and how I ended up with only one (visible) photo. But below I wrote some more tips for you that I learnt on the way.
Some small tips
(this is not a chronological guide)
- warm your film up by pouring warm water inside the tank
- let your film dry up during at least 2 – 3 hours
- start developing when the liquids are on temperature
- when done with Blix, get your film out the tank and start rinsing it with water (it’s not lightsensitive after blix and makes rinsing easier)
- don’t let time between developer and blix or blix and rinsing
- use a Lab Timer App (Download here for iOS or here for Android)