Starting last year, I’ve managed to develop 12 films black and white to date. With varying success – hah! I feel reasonably comfortable with the process now though, so thought I would finally venture into trying to develop colour film. A short note here; I prefer shooting colour, but everyone always tells me to shoot more black and white. I will give it to them that it is easier to shoot in monochrome when the weather/sky is consistently grey. It took me around 7 weeks to shoot this roll (vs film 12, which I shot in 2-3 hours), just seeking out colour-worthy scenes in this bleakest part of winter. Oof.
I ordered Tentenal’s Colortec C41 kit from Fotoimpex in Berlin; even with international postage, it was cheaper than what I saw it listed for anywhere in the UK. Go figure. I won’t go into what mission it was to get it from the courier, but I wasn’t in a hurry anyway, so no harm was done. The way the chemicals are supplied, makes it dead easy to mix 1L of developer, 1L of bleach fix (blix) and 1L of stabilizer. That is where it being “easy” stopped for me.
The actual development instructions supplied with the kit was pretty confusing to me, so I took the advice supplied here. I don’t have a sous vide/water bath, so I was struggling to think how I would bring my chemicals to the exact temperature (I went with the 30°C option), whilst having to constantly agitate the developing tank. Ended up feeling as clumsy as I used to in chemistry lab sessions. First, after carefully bringing the developer to the right temperature, I started pouring it into the tank, before pouring out the water I was using to soak the film. Only realised when the tank started running over, so had to empty the tank, and accept the developer I had poured into it was down the drain. Heated more developer, and then started the 8 minute development process, trying to agitate with one hand, and trying to bring blix up to temperature over a bowl of hot water with the other. My agitation method was very stop start, and with a mix of stirring and inverting; who knows how the process was affected. Blix leaked out of the tank when inverting it, so I settled for stirring. I think that step went okay. Blix stinks by the way. I then washed/rinsed the film for 6 minutes in running water (wasteful, I know), before doing 1 minute of agitation with stabilizer. The kit / blog I consulted does not recommend this, but since I often have problems with watermarks, I did one rinse with de-ionised water, and one with de-ionised water with a few drops of Ilfotol. The latter might have been a mistake, because I had massive problems with fluff/dust on the film while scanning. To an infuriating degree actually. The featured image at the header of this post, I probably scanned 20 times, before begrudgingly cropping it. It is one of my favourite shots of the last months, but I could not get a scan of it without spots of fluff/dust on it. If anyone has tips for me in this regard, let me know for sure.
The result are a bit of a mixed bag. I would blame the lack of sunlight, more than I would the fact I’ve not been able to go anywhere in the last 7 weeks. The right light can make the most mundane things glow up, and worth looking at. So it is not the lack of things to photograph. It is the lack of “look at what the light did” moments.
I should say, I’ve not used this kind of film before (Fuji Superia 400 Premium), so not sure what results to expect. There was a reddish tint to most shots. This might have been a result of my development process, but I managed to correct this with scanning software anyway. Again, if anyone knows, let me know. Not sure how I feel about doing colour development myself. I feel like it might be easier to drop it off and get the scans back in an hour from a high street place. I don’t know if I’d want to risk developing myself if I had treasured / potentially amazing shots on a roll. I might shoot a few cheap practice rolls, just around the neighbourhood to see if I get a hang of the method, and what the results look like. Standing in the kitchen for an hour noodling away with chemistry kit is better than looking at screens anyway. Some of the results from this first go:
Took this one on 02Jan, when I met my boss for the first time in 10 months. We walked from Edgware Road to Embankment across an eerily deserted Zone 1. You can see the reddish tint I mean in this shot:
Took this on my walk home from getting the Covid vaccine, using cranes in the sky to navigate by. Might be my favourite from the roll:
I sort of like these bare branch fringes / frames in winter shots:
This was early one morning, and there legit was a golden glow in the air:
Two guys asked me if I was lost when I stopped to take this. They didn’t see the 🙂 hiding in the shadows behind them:
Weird double/triple exposure. Figure on rollerskates in a dreamscape: