Exposing and developing the first roll of film

Exposing film can be done many ways, with the meter in camera, a hand held meter (spot or average, reflective or direct from the subject). I hate to carry anything unnecessary when I’m out and about so whenever I’m shooting 35 mm I use the in-camera meter.

I use a very old Pentax Spotmatic meter, when I’m exposing sheet film as I can use the zone system to great effect. I purchased it through the Fred Picker Zone VI studios many years ago. We could use the zone system, which is really good once you can get a handle on it.

For those that want to learn the zone system I would recommend “The New Zone System Manual” by Minor White, Richard Zakia and Peter Lorenze.

The New Zone System Manual.

However, as we are talking about 35mm film and the need to expose multiple frames in a way that is useful over a potentially huge range of subjects, I suggest a short cut which I first learned some 50 years ago at the studio of Fred Picker in Newfane Vermont.

For those unfamiliar with Fred Picker you can read about him here and here.

So the short cut.

Fred said and I have come to agree with him that the ISO that film manufactures assign to their individual films is wildly inaccurate in practice due to all the variables that are introduced by the user. The manufacture assigns an ISO based on the film being exposed directly to light with nothing between the light source and the film. Thus ignoring all the variables a camera can introduce, such as lazy shutter and poor glass etc.

So, what is the first step, and its very easy just half the manufactures ISO recommendation. Therefore, TRI-X 400 should first be tested at ISO 200. This recommendation goes for any film that you decided to use. Then you take a meter reading of the palm of your hand and open up 1 stop.

All of this sounds like overkill for the film but in practice it isn’t and its not a slow way of working either once you become familiar with it, it becomes quite a fluid way of working.

So go out and shoot that test roll!

The test roll

TRI-X 400 with the ISO set to 200.

The Development cycle

  • 1 minute, Water pre soak (68 degrees) tap water is fine for this as long as it’s at the same temperature as the following chemicals.
  • 8 minutes Developer D-76 at 1:2 dilution (68 degrees)
  • 1 minute, Stop bath (68 degrees) Constant agitation
  • 4 minutes, Fixer (68 degrees)
  • 10 minutes, First water wash (68 degrees)
  • 1 minute, Hypo clear agent for (68 degrees)
  • 30 minute, Final wash (68 degrees)
  • Photo-flow, just dip the film into a diluted solution of photo-flow and then remove and hang. Don’t use a squeegee on the film as this can create scratches which will give you black lines on the film. Tip: when making a print with scratches on the negative, nose grease can remove most of them. Take some grease from the outside of your nose with your finger and rub it on the film side, not the emulsion side.

We now have our first test film exposed and developed.
The next step is evaluating our results so that we can make intelligent guesses as to what we need to adjust to get the combination exposure/development we desire.

See you next time

Part 03

Part 05

2 thoughts on “B&W FILM PROCESSING 04”

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