It was finally time to start and develop my first 35mm black and white film roll at home in daylight. Read below to know every step I took and the ingredients you need, just like a recipe.
How to Develop 35mm Black & White Film Roll at Home in Daylight
I am a photographer and a HUGE lover of film photography but I have only developed my film roll once at a workshop. You may remember my excitement BEHIND THE SCENES OF FILM PHOTOGRAPHY DARKROOM PRINTING WITH BRANCO OTTICO a few months ago.
After that, I have never tried to re-do it by myself, mostly because I thought I needed too many chemicals, tools and so on. Instead, I have found a way which is incredibly quick and effective.
What You Need To Develop Black & White Film Rolls at Home
Let me just tell you everything you need, starting from the very basics.
For developing 35mm black & white film rolls you would need:
- to read about the % of liquids & times
- the chemicals
- a tank
- lot of water
Before Starting To Develop
I want to write a few notes about what you have to do before getting into chemicals. Simply study the instruction on the film roll as for the timing needed to develop the specific film roll. Each film roll varies and so I prefer doing this first. Same goes for preparing the chemicals. They all have different dilution of water.
They all need to be adjusted with water at a given temperature (usually 20°C and it was the most difficult thing because my tap water is warmer). Inside the Ilford Simplicity travel kit – as I call it for the tiny dimensions – you have 4 chemicals:
- The Developer
- The Stop Bath
- The Fixer
- The Wetting Agent
I prepare the developer, the stop bath and the fixer with their right amount of water before starting. Instead I left the wetting agent there and I will tell you why in a second.
The temperature of the water is pretty important because it decides how much time you need to use every chemicals in order for the film roll to fully develop.
How to Develop Film Roll in Daylight
Now, this is an interesting part. You are used to seeing people developing in a dark room because the light is the enemy of film roll but there is actually some old tool that can help you develop film rolls in daylight.
I have been gifted two old Agfa Rondinax tanks to develop in daylight – one for 35mm film and the other for 120mm. Reality is I had no idea if they actually work – they are from the 30s so I had my doubts but they work wonders!
Basically, you unroll the film roll inside the Rondinax tank in full daylight and then you add all the chemicals until the fixer. Once you have done with the fixer you can open the tank and start to wash the film roll multiple times.
Specifically for the ILFORD FP4 these were the times I used:
- Developer 6.30 min at 20°C
- Stop Bath 30 seconds at 20°C
- Fixer 5 min at 20°C
By following this video tutorial I have washed the film roll 10 times and added one cap of wetting agent in the last wash. Just this easy!
Like I said the most difficult part was to have the water at 20°C – I used a lot of ice – but other than that I develop this film roll in less than 20 minutes. No kidding.
The final results
I really couldn’t be happier with the results. I have used the film roll on a Mini Diana which is half frame but decided to use it with square 1:1 image format, just like the old Instagram.
What instead I couldn’t resist was doing multiple exposures – I can’t handle it! Creating something that doesn’t exist in reality is so funny. Yes, I could do it in Photoshop but that’s too easy while waiting the developing part is another story..
And here there are some of my favourite images of this black and white film roll. They are pretty creative, a kingdom of dreams with the very dramatic light and dark dichotomy. Let me know your thoughts about them.