Below is a collection of photographs taken in Devon, 2019. To see how I developed the C-41 please check out the Lomography Colour 100 post.
A Fresh Start
The first roll of colour film I developed at home for this blog was Lomography Colour 100 with Tetenal C-41. The results were pretty good and I wondered why friends in the photography community always claimed colour was more tricky…I agree one must be very precise with water temperature during processing but as long as you set up a good workflow you minimise risk of problems.
At the beginning a rookie mistake I made was storing chemicals in glass bottles on the top shelf of my wardrobe instead of plastic bottles on the bottom shelf. Unfortunately the shelf gave out from the weight which smashed everything on the floor…whoops! More about that can be read here.
Another mistake I made was not knowing colour chemicals do not stay fresh for very long once mixed (6 weeks), the concentrate gives you 12 weeks though, added to the 6 weeks after mixing is another 24 weeks. I tried mixing another 1000ml after the end use date and the bleach fix turned into a yellow lumpy cheese like goop. Not good.
Tetenal can process around 30-40 rolls of film so these two mistakes are an expensive lesson to learn. At the time I didn’t have the money or free time to invest in 40 rolls of film to shoot – I was looking for a new job and had a lot of changes happening in life.
Fast forward to Autumn 2019 and in 3 months i’ve shot 20 rolls of film to develop and will be ordering some more for a short trip away in October – so fingers crossed I should hit that 30-40 number making things way more cost efficient.
How I develop
Follow the instructions in the Tetenal guide – they’re fool proof and super easy! Each time I develop a roll of film I tally up the guide to track the life of each mix. The development and bleach times are extended depending on how many rolls you have developed or if you are push processing.
Everyones workflow will vary but i’ve found that if I fill a bowl with water to around 50ºc the heat transfer warms up the chemicals with enough time during cooling to 38ºc to load the film to the spools & development tank. Once the bowl temperature reaches 39ºc I start a 5 minute film bath at 38ºc (water taken straight from tap and temp measured using thermometer). By the time I have finished preheating the film the temperature in the bowl and my chemicals are 38ºc exactly.
I always put the development tank in to the bowl to keep the temperature up and I regularly check with a thermometer! If it starts dropping below 38ºc I top up the warm bath with hot water to a couple of degrees higher to keep the chemicals at 38ºc.
Once the negatives have dried they are cut in to a strips of 6 frames and placed in an archival box. I use industry standard archiving from when I was working as a retoucher – date backwards, followed by job number, then by product, and client or location. Underscores are used instead of spacing. So the latest project is always at the bottom of the list. For example the roll of film for this blog post is 19090601_KODAK_PORTRA_400_LONDON_WETLAND_CENTRE
The job number goes up depending on how many jobs I have that day. This is handy if i’m with the same client but on a different shoot or location or batch. I.e 19060101_PORTRA, 19060102_PORTRA, 19060103_PORTRA, etc etc etc
I scan my negatives flat without adjustments or sharpening using a Plustek Opticfilm 8100 at 3600 dpi which produces a 50mb file at 3300 x 4968. The scanner can do up to 7200dpi however the scan time is too slow and I don’t require that much data for web use. If I ever print the images I would rescan at 7200dpi and reprocess for print. The images are saved as PSD’s which increases their compatibility with Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom is my main tool for global adjustments such as colour, cropping and batch processing. Macro adjustments and cleaning are done in Photoshop.
London Wetland Centre
This roll of Kodak Portra 400 has been processed with warmer tone that I feel reflects the warmth of the summer day I shot it on.
Limehouse to Camden Canal Walk
These photographs are some test shots I took for a future post about Reciprocity Failure.
Prelude to colour:
Since starting The 35mm Project in 2013 I have sent all my colour film to labs, but over the last eight months I have had some great results with black and white since taking the time to really understand the development process and what I want from film. My negatives have never looked better and with every process, push, pull or out of the box I am learning. Now, I want to explore colour processing to hone my skills further, to save money and to see (if any) what difference in quality there is between my negatives and the labs I once used. I am interested in good results and bad results, colour shift, colour cast, what mistakes I make and what affect it has on the photograph, will it change the image for better, or worse? Lets explore!!!
Step 1: Receiving the goodies!
Contents of photograph: Tetenal C-41 kit, 3 x 1 litre brown chemical storage, 2 x 1000ml jugs, 2 x 600ml beakers, 1 x 150ml beaker, Ilford stop bath, Ilford rapid fixer, Rodinol R09, Hama Negative Storage, 2 x Patterson negative clips, scissors, cleaning equipment, syringes, development tank, 2 x spools, negative cleaning alcohol, thermometer, chamois, microfibre cloth, agitator, eyepiece. All equipment purchased from Silverprint.
Most of the items in the photograph above I already had but today (05/06/18) I received a pack of Tetenal C-41 Developing Kit. YAZOOOO!
Step 2: Setting up
Setting up the gear was easy! I followed a similar process to YouTuber Wild We Roam and also referred to YouTuber The Art of Photography. I would check both these guys out, their process is simple to follow and informative.
I labelled the bottles with steps so the chemicals aren’t mixed and it’s easier for me when concentrating on temperatures and timing. It’s important to keep the chemicals away from one another, especially bleach to developer as the bleach will neutralise the developer and stop it from working. A 2.5L pack of Tetenal will develop around 30-40 rolls of film and last around 6 months from the date of being opened. I will process 14 rolls per 1/L of solution and 7 rolls in the final 500ml solution over the next few months.
I mixed the chemicals following the guidelines in the Tetenal instruction booklet. The temperature requires great accuracy with a maximum deviancy of +-.05ºc for development. +-1ºc for the bleach fix and between 30-40 degrees for Stab & Rinse. Unfortunately just before starting the development process I realised my thermometer doesn’t go above 30ºc! The Tetenal instructions do have a development process at a lower temp (usual being 38ºc) however there may be some colour shift.
Eager to try the kit out and unable to wait for a thermometer with a larger range I decided to develop 1 of the 3 rolls of Lomography 100 I have shot at the lower 30ºc temperature to see how the development is affected compared to 38ºc. I used a bucket filled with water with a temp of around 33ºc (slight guess as there was no markings past 30ºc on the thermometer) to keep the chemicals warm. While the chemicals were warming I turned the lights out and loaded the film on to a spool.
Step 3: Develop
Stage 1 of development is a warm water bath for the negative for five minutes, during this time I kept checking the developer temp to ensure if stayed at 30ºc. The development times are pre-set by Tetenal however the agitation times are my own:
Water bath & pre heat developer tank 30ºc for 05:00m
Developer 30ºc for 08:00m (agitate for 15s every minute)
Bleach Fix 30ºc for 06:00m (agitate for 15s every minute)
Rinse around 33ºc for 06:00 (acceptable range of 30ºc – 40ºc change water every 30s)
Stabilizer 30ºc for 01:00m (acceptable range of 20ºc – 40ºc)
Step 4: The moment of truth….
Step 5: Scan, Clean, Upload
There aren’t any predefined settings on Silverfast for Lomo 100 but I found the Fuji Superia 100 settings to work the best for this type of film. Images were scanned using a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i 35mm scanner with Silverfast 8. Scanned as PSD and imported to Lightroom & Photoshop. Images were spot, dust and scratch removal at 100%. Cropped to 6×4 ratio. No sharpening. I wanted to retain as much of the original negative colour and sharpness (otherwise, what is the point?).
It is times like this when I see a negative that I have developed myself and think “why did I not do this from the beginning?”. Honestly! Everyone should develop their own film, the results are far superior than that of any lab I have ever sent film to. The negative is well developed, colours are consistent and it was extremely fun!
Have a look at the gallery below to see more.