Film photography has gained massive traction in the past decade or so. Over-exposed or under-exposed pictures are all the buzz. Professional and amateur photographers are experimenting on how they can further explore such techniques in film photography.
Among the many techniques that have been reinvigorated, 35mm film development has become quite famous among film photographers.
In this article, we will tell you all about the 35mm film development process. You can do it at your home with our simple DIY steps or you could send it over to some of the places listed in the article. We will also give you some tips as to what you can do with the images once you’ve clear with film development.
So basically, film photography is the art of using thin, transparent strips to record the picture instead of a digital storage device. Hence the name, film. The film is coated with a chemical (sodium halide) that is sensitive to light. You can alter the image texture by changing the exposure time while clicking pictures. This gives photographers room to create stunning imperfect images that would not be possible with a digital camera.
The films come in different sizes based on which they are classified. You have the 35mm, medium and large format. The 35mm and medium format films are the most commonly used format in film photography. Picture quality depends on the type of film you utilize. Smaller films such as the 35mm produce prominent grains and texture while larger films have fewer grains.
As a photographer, you need to understand every picture that you click. And there’s no better way to do this than completing the entire process of developing film. It gives a depth to your photography skills and techniques that can set you apart from the rest.
If you want to really get to know the 35mm film developing process, you must do it on a regular basis and get to know it inside out. You don’t need high-end equipment or a change in your living room to accommodate the 35mm film developing process in your house.
Once you have a roll of 35mm film ready to go, you'll need some basic tools and chemicals to start your film processing journey. For beginners, start by learning the black and white film developing process, since color film developing is more complex and requires additional bleach chemicals. Before you start, you will need some essential equipment. You can find these black and white film developing essentials at a specialty photography shop or online.
Things You Need
Here’s a list of essentials that you’ll need before you can start the 35mm film developing process:
Developing tank: It is important that you have a light-proof tank to develop your photos. This will be your 35 film developing tank. You’ll place the film and the chemicals in the tank during the 35mm film developing process.
Film reels: the film needs to be held firmly in place so that the chemicals in the developing tank can evenly coat the film's surface. If you’re just starting out, plastic film reels. They are easier to handle than metal reels.
Chemicals: There are 3 major chemicals that carry out the 35mm film developing process: The developer, stop bath, and fixer. These chemicals can be bought in liquid or powdered forms from a drug store. An optional chemical, the wetting agent, is recommended if you want to prevent watermark formation on the film.
Measuring vessels: You can use a beaker or a graduated cylinder to measure and mix the chemicals. Keeping two vessels, one large and one small will make the process a lot easier.
Storage bottles: This is to store any excess chemicals left over after the 35mm film developing process. The bottle must be opaque. You can use glass or plastic storage containers. Don’t forget to label the bottle to avoid mix ups in the future.
Thermometer: Maintaining the liquid temperature is a crucial aspect of 35mm film development. A basic mercury thermometer should do the job.
Scissors: A sharp sturdy pair of scissors to cut the film.
Clothespins or clips: Some firm clips to hang your film negatives as they dry.
Distilled water: Only necessary if your water is high in mineral content. Mineral salts can stain your negatives.
How to Develop Film
Once you’ve got all that’s required, you can follow the steps below and develop your film.
The 35mm film developing process has the following steps:
The first step in the film development process is to mix the chemicals in their proper proportions. The quantity and directions of use come with the package.
Fill the development tank with cold water. You can check the temperature using the thermometer. Soak the film when the water is at 68 °F (or 20° C)
You will then pour the developer solution into the developing tank. Keep note of the temperature of the solution. Pour out the developer solution from the tank after a specific amount of time, based on the developer solution’s temperature.
To arrest the developer solution’s action, pour in a “stop bath” solution and keep the solution for the same amount of time as the developer solution. You can pour the solution back into the bottle to be reused.
Next, pour the fixer into the developing tank. Again, you will keep the solution in the tank for the same amount as the other chemicals. You can pour the solution back into the container after use.
You then have to thoroughly wash the film with water.
Once you've washed the film, you’ll have to remove the film from the reel. Be careful not to touch the film.
Using the clips you can hang your film to dry. Drying depends on the humidity but shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
The 35mm film developing process isn’t rocket science as you can clearly see from the simple steps that can achieve film development. But the process isn’t why film development is considered to be a challenge. As with most things, timing is key. The hard part here is perfecting the process to obtain the right type of texture and contour on the images. It takes quite a lot of patience and experience before you can achieve the best quality photos.
But in case you just wanted to learn how to develop film or have loads of film for development and wondering where to get film developed in the 21st century, we have just the list for you. With the addition of online services apart from the good old stores that carry out film development, it isn’t as difficult as you thought.
Where is the 35mm Film Developing Process Done?
35mm Film Developing Stores
There are quite a few stores that have kept alive the tradition of film development. Here are a few prominent options:
They offer 4x6 prints from 35mm film or a disposable camera. It costs you about $0.36 each and takes 7-10 business days to finish.
Walgreens charge a fixed $14.99 for a roll of 35mm film. You can pick up the pictures within a week but you won’t be able to collect your negatives. Instead they give you a CD containing digital copies.
You can go to a Walmart near you. But they dont process images with third party vendors. Not a really a good choice because it takes longer and costs more per picture.
Online 35mm Film Developing
Apart from these stores, you have some options online:
• The Darkroom
California-based The Darkroom is an online vendor who develops your 35mm film starting at $12 per roll. You can send in your disposable camera or the film directly. You can download the images from their website or order print, 3-4 days after you’ve given them the film. They also return negatives.
• Process One
This is a faster option for those who want to receive their photos in a day. The only downside is that you’ll have to pay separately for developing and printing the pictures. The negatives returned and you get a soft copy of the images as well.
Mpix is another option for those looking for quick prints. The rates are per exposure with a separate fee for prints. You can download the images within a day from their website.
• Old School Photo Lab
Old School Photo Lab offers a good price for the 35mm film developing process starting at $12. Shipping is free but could take up to two weeks for you to get your pictures and negatives.
You have many options to get your film developed. But the important thing is what you do after you get the photos. How will you display your photos to the world and get your brand on the market?
How to Earn From Film Photography?
There are a lot of ways you can earn money from photography, either by selling your 35mm film photos directly on the internet or by offering a 35mm film developing service. In both cases, the best thing you need to do to get your sales going, to build a brand identity and establish yourself in the market is to get a personal website and display your talents there. If you’re wondering how you can do that, well, it’s much simpler than film development.
There are website building platforms such as Strikingly that provide you the best online services for creating and managing your website. You can create a free website using some of the finest web page templates on the internet. All you have to do is sign up and create a free account on Strikingly, after which you can choose a photography-based website template and begin editing it at will.
Image taken from Strikingly
The 35mm film developing process is growing faster than you know it. Some of the leading photographers are switching back to film photography as they have seen why it is so important to photography itself. Start now and see yourself be the leading resource person for film photography in the coming years.