Developing my first roll of film

My first developed roll!
My first developed roll!

Last week, 10 of us took turns, in pairs, loading film into developing tanks in total darkness during our photography class.    I admit, I had some difficulty getting the film started properly on the metal film spool.  Even though I had been successful on my last several attempts using expired film in daylight, it’s just a little awkward to work in total darkness – and share that space with basically a total stranger who is now waiting patiently for you to figure this process out!

The assignment was exposure brackets – which amazingly I had never done.  I had heard of it – and I had done it a few times on digital when I was trying to figure out how to capture a certain shot when lighting conditions were poor, but I had never shot an entire roll just to verify the meter was working.  I guess the cost of $1 per shot combined with the latitude of film and the fact I had working cameras to compare my latest acquisition to just never urged me to do this exercise.

But anyway – all 37 exposures on my roll of Ilford HP-5+ turned out – 33 of which are above.  Our instructor really likes Ilford films (he shot an average of 50 rolls a week for 2 years!), but it was my first time shooting HP-5+.  He likes it for it’s latitude in various lighting conditions, and especially for week 1 I can see how it makes it easier for us to develop films together if they need comparable processing times.  I’m interested in seeing how the prints turn out this week, but in most cases I seem to prefer either the nominal or the underexposed shot – although my scanner doesn’t capture them well.  One of the great ironies of the evening was that 11 photographers, 10 of us developing our first roll of film – failed to capture a single image of the event.  I’ll try to rectify that this week.

This roll was shot with the Maxxum 5.  I shot a second roll as a “backup” just in case I messed up my first roll.  This week I’ve been working on our second assignment with my Canon AE-1P, and I plan to develop these two rolls this week prior to my next class.  Eventually, I’ll start scanning negs and providing images, but until then I’ll share the results of printing as they become available.  Everything will be 8″ x 10″ for now!

This initial experience with developing has me considering the possibility of developing my color negatives at home as well.  It’s not that difficult or messy, and the open trays of chemicals are apparently only used for developing prints.  So far, the class has been worthwhile – I highly recommend taking a film photography class if you are considering it; just be prepared for a slow start since some of the people in the class may have never shot film before (like at least half of my class.)  I’m even kicking around B&W Photography II next semester!


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