Darkroom Notes – Developing the Washi W Film

Japanese Paper Film?

Months ago I bought a roll of 120 Washi W film; I was interested in how traditional Japanese paper (washi) would perform as a film base. A massive shoutout to Film Washi, “the smallest film manufacturer in the world”, which to my knowledge is an one man operation in France.

Exposure Problem Solved?

I was visiting the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail in Fanling, Hong Kong and decided to bring the film and the tripod out and for a shoot. Before the trip I was searching for exposure guide for the Washi W film and came across this page from “The Film Photography” blog, which suggests to shoot at ISO3 and develop in Rodinal 1+50. I thought this is a good starting point.

Developing problems…

The shoot went well and I was ready to work back home. The film needs to be developed in a darkroom in a red safe light. Yes, the film is not sensitive to red light.

Same setup as developing 5×7 prints but…

There is a major difficulty: the film is way too long for developing in these trays… the solution? Grabbing both ends of the film with each hand and dip the film few inches at a time. I needed to shuffle the film back and forth… my forearms were sore after the development.

After 2/3 minutes the images are formed and stable, now do the same thing again with stop bath and fixer. It was quite demanding… for my arms.

Emulsion falling apart

During development I noticed little pieces of the emulsion were falling apart. I guess my hands are too sloppy to handle the film… leading results like below…

Spots everywhere…
Spots everywhere…

I have to use spot healing to get some satisfying images.

The final images… after spot healing

I have to say I really like the quality of the film and the results. I still have 2 boxes of 4×5 Washi W and will definitely shoot them as soon as possible… and they are easier to handle then rollfilm!

Fujica GW690II, Washi W, Rodinal 1+50
Fujica GW690II, Washi W, Rodinal 1+50
Fujica GW690II, Washi W, Rodinal 1+50

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