It is ever so easy to romanticize about film, don’t you think? Perhaps it’s the relative ease of digital that makes the arduous processes of film seem so. Or maybe that it’s just antiquated. When ‘developing’ a modern photograph, you’ll tend to do so in some sort of program like Lightroom or Photoshop and sure there is a whole lot of personalization involved. In fact, one could argue the level to which you can alter an image in said programs makes them even more personal. Yet, somehow, to those who shoot film, it’s not.
Developing not in Lightroom, but in a darkroom, is extremely tactile and sensory. From the moment you are ready to take the film out of their canisters and transfer them to the reels and developing cans either in a totally dark room or a changing bag, it’s all feels. Then, for further feels, the move to the developer, then the stop bath, fixer, distilled water all the while remembering to ‘agitate’ – the process is so involved. If it sounds like a lot of work, well, it is, but the rewards can bring tears to your eyes. This video by Paul Bintner from Off The Main Track, takes you through the entire film processing section (not the developing), albeit with a finger on the fast forward button, so you get through the whole thing in 4 minutes.
I always recommend photographers of any age spend some time in the dark room developing their own stock. It brings a different appreciation for not only film, but each of your shots. With the frivolity with which we wield cameras and photos these days, it’s nice to slow down, and that extra time spent, I believe, makes you less snap happy, and more likely to think about the shots you take even with digital.
Also, time in the darkroom is great, just put on some music, clear your head, and sort of revel is the hedonism of time spent on yourself and your art. And this is just a personal recommendation speaking from experience, bring a significant other in with you with a glass (read: bottle) of wine in tow, and spend the wait times getting up to mischief. Always leave room for mischief.
If you want to know more about the developing process, what materials to buy, precisely how to do it, and even where you can go to do it, let me know and I’ll be happy to create a post detailing the process. And go check out more from Paul Bintner at his YouTube Channel, Facebook, and his site for inspiration, tips and tricks and more.
Source: The Phoblographer, Images are screen caps from featured video.