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Week 5: My Work Placement - Developing a b&w Film Roll

This is going to be an update on my internship and what experience I’ve gained so far.

As I mentioned before, I found a placement at a local business. It is an independent studio called The Photo Parlour, and they specialise in developing films and making prints. I’m helping them out with customer service and other studio tasks, in exchange for learning how to use the lab.

The first day I started working there Dan (the owner of the studio) gave me a film camera loaded with a black and white film roll. He told me to finish it as soon as I can in order to learn how to develop the film. I found it quite difficult because until now I’ve been treating film cameras (and film rolls) more like precious objects and therefore it has always taken me ages to finish one film roll. Simply, I have always been unwilling to waste the film slots on shots I was not convinced they were worth it.

However, taking a lot of photos on a film camera is a great way to practice my camera usage skills. I’m more a digital person, and to get the settings right on my normal camera is a piece of cake because I can view the photo and see whether the exposure is correct. Whilst with the analogue camera I have to know without being able to see. This is exactly what will teach me a great deal. Dan once asked me: ‚How confident are you with setting up the exposures correctly?‘ and I replied that I would like to say I’m quite confident. However, now I see this area definitely needs improving.

I finally finished the b&w roll and Dan showed me how to develop it. In the dark room I cracked the film open like a bottle of beer (that’s what it felt like) and wound the film on a spool. Then I put into a developing tank. Ready for the magic to start! First I poured the developer into the tank, waited 11 mins and agitated the tank for 10 seconds every minute. Poured out the developer and poured in the stop bath for 30 seconds. Poured out the stop bath and poured in the fixer. Now I had to wait 5 minutes and again agitate the tank for 10 seconds after each minute. Poured out the fixer and then washed it with running water for 5 minutes. Last step was drying, which took 10 mins. And then voilà, my first developed film was finished!

I scanned it and here are some results.

Even though there is still a lot more to learn – not just about developing but also getting the exposure right when taking photos, I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of photos came out well!

Next time Dan will teach me how to print black and white photos.

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1 Comment

Owen Evans
Owen Evans
Nov 02, 2020

Very cool. It's amazing how many steps there are to the process and delicate timings. Even more amazing is how people invented these processes!

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