Category Archives: Darkroom Notes

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.

Darkroom Notes – A125 Film Update

In the last darkroom note I stated some developing times for the mysterious A125 black and white film – HC-110B for 10 mins, R09 Rodinal 1+25 for 12 mins.

Well, it turns out it is way too long. I have tried 6 minutes for HC-110B and 7 minutes for Rodinal. Both films turned out fine.

Foqus A125, developed in HC-110B at 20d.c. for 6 mins

That being said, I think this film can handle long developing time very well, considering I have developed it in HC-110B for 22 minutes, and the film did not look overdeveloped at all.

I would say the midtones and shadows have more detail when developed with HC-110. However with Rodinal, you get this very pleasing look, which I prefer that over HC-110.

Foqus A125, developed in R09 Rodinal 1+25 at 20d.c. for 7 mins

For the record, I still don’t know what this A125 film from Russian is, it is claimed to be developed and manufactured in Russia. They also make the Type-D 200 film, which I am going to try.

Darkroom Notes – Russian A125 Black and White Film

Update on 4 Nov 2019 – The store is not showing the product page of this film anymore.


A while back I found this A125 black and white negative film from Russia, bought 10 rolls of them.

As far as I can gather, it is developed and made in Russia, and bulk-loaded in Kodak film canister. It is not DX coded as the sticker cover the original DX codes on the Kodak canister.

It is recommended by the shop to develop this film in D-76 1+1 for 15 mins. While I only have HC-110 and R09, I did some research on the massive dev chart and translated the developing time to the following:

  • 10 minutes for HC-110B
  • 12 minutes for R09 1+25  (I have not tried it yet)

The grain is not very fine for a 125 film, but it is not ugly nor distracting. It performs pretty well on the streets. Here are some photos developed in HC-110.

Pushing this film is no problem, the grain is definitely more present in midtones and shadows, which is to expected. The contrast is not noticeably higher than when shot at ISO 125.

Here are some photos shot at ISO500 and pushed 2 stops, developed with HC-110B for 22 minutes.

From the result you can get, the price of this film is fair, if you don’t count the shipping fee. I will certainly buy more from them, and they offer another original black and white film: Type-D 200, I need to check it out.

Update: The developing times could be shorter, read update here.