Tuesday, 2 March 2010


This is a shot from my very first ever roll of film I developed myself.  Ilford FP4 Plus (125 speed) was already my favourite film, and I just became more in love with it than I was before.  I don't like the graininess of faster film, I'd rather just try and adapt my photography to suit.  I like being able to get the kind of clarity I achieved on the rose petals here and contrasting it with the softness of the out of focus tulips.  At least, today that's how I feel.  I have a couple of rolls of 400 I'm playing with at the moment.

This roll is from my Minolta, since Graham's Voigtlander is sick at the moment.  I had been a bit nervy about another roll of black and whites going through the Minolta, because the ones from the last roll (which granted sat about for too long before it was developed, and was 400 speed as well) came out a bit anaemic for my taste.  These?  Contrast is great!  There are a few smudges on them and the odd little crease, but so far no scratches AT ALL.  I can fix the smudges (by polishing the negs) and sort of like the creases (see left hand side of first shot).  The hard scratch lines across my shots when I've had them developed by shops with machines were making me sad.  These gentler and more organic imperfections I mind less.  Probably mostly because I made them myself.

Developing is FUN.  Not difficult, it's just a question of measuring out chemicals and jiggling things for the right length of time.  It's exciting though - you go into your bathroom and keep the light off and carefully block up all the gaps around the door with towels, then you pry your film out of its pregnant canister.  You wind it onto the reel, hoping that it won't get stuck.  You shut it into the tank, and turn the light on.  Then there's the arcane bit with the chemicals.  And then you can take the lid off and rinse it.  And THEN...you can unwind the sticky negatives from the reel and hang them, using hairgrips, from a piece of string tied between the light fitting and the curtain rail - and you can look at the shots!  And try and work out which ones are the good ones and which ones you really like...


There are quite a lot of variables in developing, in terms of times and temperatures as well as film and chemicals and so on.  I'm so looking forward to doing more.  Though I have just had it pointed out to me that the film I've stuck into the Minolta just now, while still be B&W, requires a different not-so-easy-at-home process.  Bah.  Need to finish it quickly and put another one in.  Which means I will have to send it away.  Which means it'll get scratched.  Which is very irritating.


All of this is Tom's fault.  Well.  It's sort of Graham's fault as well, that I was interested in doing my own development at all, and his fault that I have a scanner.  But it's TOM'S fault that I have kit and chemicals and confidence to try for myself.  Thanks Tom and Graham!



  1. Nice shots! Well done. I especially like the Rose and Tom's picture. He looks like a kind person in that pic. I have difficulty taking pictures of people that convey something and aren't just memory shots.

  2. Ah, I had wondered about the hard scratch lines. Although some of them do still work to fit with the overall image, like on your Seine picture. I guess it hinges on how you choose to process & then the end image itself. But yes, the other flaws, as such, appear kinder by softness & are better for having made them yourself whilst learning. It does all sounds pretty exciting!

  3. Melinda, I was lucky with that shot. It certainly helps that Tom has a fantastic smile though :-). I just take my camera everywhere, which is how I end up with pictures of feet on an escalator and St Pancras station platform!

    Nikki - the last batch of colour I put up on flickr were from a Holga and determinedly lomo...so I get them developed (pro - colour at home is hard if not impossible...) as cheaply as I can, hence how badly scratched they are. It's still kind of annoying on those, because some of them are pretty shots. I could spend quite a while blurring them in photoshop, but I don't really like doing that. It's rare to get an image where such a mechanical line is an advantage. Bah. Maybe I'll shop around for places to get stuff developed...