Category Archives: Darkroom Notes

Darkroom Vlog – Making Contact Sheets

In this vlog I made 3 contact sheets of my recent rolls. It started out as an idea to livestream from the darkroom. However, youtube being youtube, it does not allow people to livestream from mobile, if you have less than 1000 subscribers.

Streaming from mobile is the only practical way for me, so instead I recorded and edited this video, I think it works better than livestream would be.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Stay safe and well!

New Video – Printing Sesh #02

Another Saturday another video! (I hope I can keep up the weekly schedule)

In this video I share my darkroom prints made last year, including some contact sheets shot in Taiwan, and a few 35mm prints. I find Ilford’s RC Pearl paper to be the best for contact sheets, it is easy to handle.

Once again, please let me know your thoughts and comments. Subscribe to my channel for more video contents like this!

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

Darkroom Notes – Tetenal Colortec E-6 kit

Recently I have developed 5 rolls of 120 slide films in 4 days, here is the story and what I found.

The Trigger

It has been a long time since I started developing black and white film at home. I have always thought of stepping up to C41/E6 chemistry, but held back because the temperature needs to be precise and exact.

Recently, a major E6 lab in Hong Kong increased the price for E6 developing. This lab is responsible for a major part of E6 developing in Hong Kong; a lot of smaller photo labs rely on their service. So in short, the cost of E6 developing has gone up by a significant amount.

This leads me to finally step in the E6 home developing world. I bought a Tetenal Colortec E-6 kit 2.5L recently, which claims a total capacity of 30 rolls. For the price I paid for it, it is much more cheaper to develop it at home, even before the lab decided to increase the cost.

The Alchemy

In the box there are 6 bottles of mysterious liquid, from there you will mix the liquids into 4 working solutions – First Developer (FD), Colour Developer (CD), Bleach & Fix (BX) and Stabiliser (STAB).

It was my first time so I mixed the smallest amount possible – 500mL of working solutions, which I can develop 135 & 120 film with. The user manual is quite straightforward you just follow the table. The 4 working solutions are then stored in these brown bottles.

It was not mysterious after all.

The Temperature Struggle

If you had experience developing black and white film, developing colour film is not much different, the clear instruction of developing times and washing is very useful. The only struggle is to get the chemical to the right temperature.

After some research on the internet, most people use the sink/a container to make a hot water bath, and put the chemical bottle in to heat them up. Some people use fish tank heater or even sous-vide cooker to control the water temperature, both are too fancy for me.

what the setup would look like – without water

I eventually found an unused plastic box to serve as the hot bath. When I developed the first 2 rolls, the temperature was not very stable and I was really panicking.

However, I have to say the temperature tolerance is probably looser than it states in the manual; I have done developing at 3 degrees away from the suggested tolerance and the result is indistinguishable from normal.

Eventually I arrived at the conclusion that I would use hot water at 43 degree Celsius as the hot bath, and let the chemical sit for 15 minutes, meanwhile the film is loaded in the developing tank. The temperature and time should be different in winter; I shall test it again in the future.

What It Feels Like

Fujifilm Velvia 50

After developing 5 rolls and getting the hang of controlling the temperature, I felt like a Level 13 Sorcerer who just learned the Prismatic Spray spell.

I mean it feels very very very satisfying every time you pull out the developed film and see the vivid colours!

Why not C41?

It would be wrong to say I do not want to develop C41 film at home. The main hurdle is the fact that I always struggle to get decent colour scans from a colour negative film.

At some point I decided to just give up and take all my C41 film to a professional lab. I am a kind of person who always want to do stuff on my own, but this time is an exception. It is a huge weight off my shoulder.

Fujifilm Provia 400X

Conclusion

If you read all the way down here, you have my respect and appreciation for tolerating my English and not-at-all useful sharing.

I do not know how to conclude my story because it is still developing. But if you ever wanted to try developing colour film, you should try it. It is ever so satisfying.