The Kodak Tri-X is the first but not last roll of film that i personally developed for this project and it was a pleasure!
My early years of photography were spent in the darkroom learning to develop and print film and ‘retouch’ photographs using various techniques, unfortunately this practice was short lived as i quickly migrated to Digital because of its speed, ease and cost effectiveness.
I had always missed being in the darkroom though so decided for this project that i must start developing my own film again to fully appreciate shooting in 35mm and to please myself in the process.
I shot a roll of Tri-X and booked a brief induction to the darkroom as well as a refresher course on developing film, of course i hadn’t forgotten the process of developing however it had been almost 7 years since i developed my last roll of film so i had to make sure that i didn’t leave anything out.
I met a guy called Dave and there was 2 other people on the refresher evening, one of them i knew, Mike, who works at the Camera Club. Dave is insanely knowledgable and deeply enthusiastic about film photography, perfect! We got chatting and he guided us through the developing process, mixing solutions and the various techniques and tools available when developing film.
After this we each went into our own darkroom, shut the doors, mixed the chemicals, turned out the lights and started spooling! Fantastic! It’s like riding a bike.
Chemical process: Rodinal at 1/25 solution for 300ml 7 minute develop (12ml Rodinal topped up to 300ml water). Agitate for 30’s then tap, leave 30s, agitate twice, tap, repeat agitate every 30s.
Empty developer, rinse for about a minute then Fix with Ilford Hypam. Agitate 30s on, 30s off. All solutions at 20 degrees c. Empty and dilute with water for 15 min, didn’t use stop bath. Note: Kodak state that you can stand tri-x with little agitation and high developer concentration, using this technique you can push the film to 3200 and beyond, this is something i will be doing in future.
I chose 7 minutes as this was the recommended time by Rodinal for Tri-X. I could also double the time for a slower develop however i wasn’t worried with that this time, in the future i will alter development times depending on the results i want from the grain. So faster develop will make the Silver Halide clump together to produce bigger grain, slower develop will have finer grain.
Film was clear after 3 mins so to permanently fix i leave for another 3 minutes. The reason for this is that film is opaque to stop light bouncing around inside the camera when you take a photo and causing the photo to expose incorrectly, fixing removes the opaque look as well as fixing the image to the film, once the film is clear during fixing make a note of that time then continue to fix again for that time duration (so 3 mins to clear, fix for another 3) this will mean that the film will stay constantly fixed and will last hundreds of years. Rather than going 20 years down the line and it becoming faded or coloured because it wasn’t fixed properly.
Once film was fixed i used some Photo Flow which helps alleviate drying marks then removed the film from the spool and hung to dry in the drying cupboard. 15 minutes later 1 perfectly developed film.
A great website for getting film development times is www.digitaltruth.com
Scanning results where fantastic, there was minimal dust and scratches on the film and the overall quality seems much better than when i have used lab’s to develop. I am tentative to speculate as to why there were minimal dust and scratches, i could of just been very lucky and the film emulsion was perfect however the past Lab results scratches are too frequent, a part of me thinks that they’re not as careful as i would expect them to be. Suffice to say i will be developing all of my film myself from now on.
Shot on Canon EOS 620 with 24-70mm 2.8 USM L Mk II lens. I am very happy with the results of this process, the highlights have details in them and the shadows are strong, the grain desirable and consistent.