More adventures with RA-4


It took me a while to drag myself away from playing Dragon Age II, but I finally shoved the enlarger back into the bathroom and mixed up some fresh RA-4 chems to make color prints. This time I was going to be using a fresh pack of paper, some Fujifilm Crystal Archive Lustre paper that I got from Freestyle a few months back.

The past few times I’ve tried to make color prints have been frustrating, due to using old paper and getting odd color tints in the base. I figured this would be a test – if I couldn’t manage to get a decent print using brand new paper and fresh chems, then I must be a lost cause.

I picked the negative above for my first test. There was a white background and bright colors so that I could easily tell how accurate my guesses on the enlarger filtration were. I did some test strips until I got bored with doing that – 3 test strips per image seem to be about my limit before I finally say, “Screw it, I’m just going to go ahead and make a print,” even if I still need to adjust my filters. 4 prints later I had the print above.

It’s not bad. I could probably tweak it a little more to get a clearer white, but I was actually pretty happy with the colors I go. My main issue was the slight cyan cast and the weird cyan splotchy bits in the upper right corner.

My next print had the cyan splotchiness in the corner, too.

Krispy Kreme

I couldn’t figure out what could be causing this. Maybe a defect in the paper? I started drying out my tank more thoroughly between prints, and as an afterthought checked my rotator base for the tank. It was a little bit off level, so I adjusted it so that the tank sat perfectly level when it rotated.


That actually seemed to do the trick, amazingly. After I leveled out the base, I got a lot less noticeable cyan weirdness on my prints. Hooray!

Anyway, I’ve been experimenting making prints with all sorts of negatives. The Krispy Kreme picture is from a cross processed negative. The waterfall pic is from a newly shot roll of way expired color negative film. Then I remembered there was something I had wanted to try, and dug out that reclaimed Polaroid negative I had salvaged from the goop of a Fuji FP-100C peel-apart photo. The negative looks like this:

My first Peel-Apart negative!

And one of the enlargements of that negative turned out like this:

David's Van

Weird! And awesome!

I made several enlargements of the leaf photo shot with the Graflex SLR:


Including one with the texture fabric over it. Not too keen on how this turned out, but it was interesting to see how the texture worked on a color photo.

Leaves with filter

It continues to amaze me how good these prints look “in real life,” you know, as opposed to scanned in on a computer screen. The detail and sharpness in the leaf print is pretty impressive. That was shot using 3×4 film, so I was working with a pretty huge negative. The detail is kind of phenomenal.

Travis went through some of our old photos from about 10 years ago, and picked out a 35mm negative that we had developed at Walmart or CVS or some place like that. We decided to try enlarging that to see how close we came to the actual photo we got developed back then.

Toby and trees

We came pretty close. Ours is a little more yellow and not quite as blue, but the aspen trunks are white and Toby is red, so that’s all I really cared about.

It was pretty refreshing to be working with paper that actually reacted the way it should. I made a bunch more prints that I haven’t scanned in yet, and some are even successful enough that I’m probably going to put them up in the shop. I know! Bold move! I just need to make sure I can ship prints safely without them getting all bent up. I’ll probably have to cut up chunks of cardboard for protection. I can haz box cutter?

One of the things I tried today that came out absolutely stunning was when I enlarged a black and white negative onto color paper. So, stay tuned for when I get pics uploaded of that goodness (or, just check out the shop tomorrow, because when I pulled the print out of the tank, I was all, “Oh hey! This may actually be art!” Surprise!).

Now that I kind of know what I’m doing with the color printing, I’m having a great time with it. I actually like it better than black and white printing, at least for right now. The whole process is so fast, and the amount of variables is huge, in a good way. For example, I exposed two prints exactly the same, same negative, same filtration, same time, etc, and they came out different. Why? I guess because the temps of my chems wasn’t stable, and I had to develop my prints for slightly different times. But that kind of stuff doesn’t bug me, I just accept it and welcome it as Darkroom Magic. I really like the process of making a print, and then tweaking it slightly – bumping up a filter by 5, or slightly shortening the development time, stuff like that, and then assessing the different results.

Tomorrow I’m going to try two different, older papers. One is just regular RA-4 paper, but 11×14. The other is 8×10 Fujichrome paper, which is supposed to be used for making prints from slides. It uses different chems and a different process than RA-4. That process is called R-3, and looks really similar to how slide film is developed – there’s a first developer, and then the paper is exposed to light, and then there is a color developer and blix step after that. My theory is that if slide film can be cross processed in color negative chemicals, then maybe positive paper can be cross processed in color paper chems. Maybe? Surely someone has tried this, but I couldn’t really find any info about it, so I’m just going to give it a go myself. If nothing else, I would think the Fujichrome paper could potentially be processed by developing in black and white paper first, then exposing to light, and then finished up by doing an RA-4 process. If the cross processing in RA-4 chems doesn’t work, I’ll have to try that.

More adventures in RA-4!

Washington DC

The past few times I’ve tried doing RA-4 (color print) processing, I’ve had problems. Mainly, it seemed like my chems were going bad too quickly. I felt like I was doing something wrong, but didn’t understand what. I think I’ve got that sorted out, finally. Hooray!

So, for the sake of learning, here’s how I think you’re supposed to develop RA-4 prints. At least, this is how I did it.

I bought the RA-4 chem kit from Freestyle. This comes in either a 2 liter or 4 liter kit. I went with the 4 liter, because I am insane.

RA-4 processing is actually easier to do than black and white processing (same thing as developing color film versus black and white film). You’re only working with two solutions – the developer and the Blix. So, go ahead and mix up your chems. The developer is a combination of 3 liquids inside the kit, plus water, and the Blix is two liquids, plus water. Since I wasn’t going to mix up the whole kit at once, do some math wizardry and figure out the correct ratio for all of your chems. Use warm water, since the chems will need to be warm. I mixed up one liter of each of the developer and the Blix, since I had brown plastic bottles of that size.

The chems need to be kept warm (between 75 degrees and 105, preferably – that’s why doing color print processing during the summer seems so appealing, where you can work at ambient temps), so chuck them in a warm water bath and let them heat up.

You can do color print processing in trays in the dark, but screw that – I don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark, trying to keep all of those chems warm. So, I use a rotary processor. I’ve got my motorized base…

Rotary base

And my set of print developing tubes…


So I’m good to go. After the paper is exposed, you slide it inside a tube emulsion side up and then close the tube. The tube has a trough running the length of it, so that when you pour in chems, they don’t actually touch the paper and start developing until you make the motor go on the base. The beauty of this set up is that you use very little chems when developing paper. When I develop an 8×10 sheet of paper, I only pour in 120 ml of chems at a time.

Which leads me to the next step – you need to find very small containers (like, yogurt cup sized) with water-tight lids. Get two of them. Mark one as developer, and one as Blix. Draw a line on them with a Sharpie showing exactly where 120 ml is on them. Then, pour that much developer and Blix into each of those containers, seal them up, and chuck them back into the water bath. These little containers are your working solution. The big containers? Your replenisher.

Got your chems? Made a print? Stuck it inside the tube? Put the tube on the motor base? Good. Get your working solution of developer and take its temperature. Over 75 degrees? Good. Use the magic chart that came with your chems to figure out exactly how long you need to process the print with the developer – since developing times are so short with color printing, it’s important that you check the temp of the developer every time before you process so you don’t accidentally over or under develop your print. Check the developer temp every time before you make a print. The Blix times will fluctuate based on temp, too, but I normally just assume that the Blix is about the same temp as the developer. I don’t get real stressed out about it.

Pour your chems into the tube and start it rolling. Process it for the required amount of time, pour the developer back into your working solution container, and then pour in the Blix. After the Blix has been processed, pour it back into its working solution container. Pop the lid off your tube, fish the print out, and set it in a tray of warm water. Wash the print for a few minutes, and then hang it up to dry.

Now, here’s the important bit – look back at your working solution containers. The amount of developer you poured back into the container is less than the amount you put in. About 8 or so ml got sucked up and absorbed by the paper. Oh noes! This is where the replenisher comes in. Pour developer back into the working solution container with your developer replenisher until the amount of liquid reaches the line. Then cap your bottle of replenisher and put the lid back on your working solution, and put them back into the water bath.

The Blix allegedly needs replenishing too, but my Blix always multiplies, like the loaves and fishes. So, after every few prints, I’ll pour a little bit of my working solution out, and replenish it with the Blix replenisher, just to keep the chems active.

So, that’s how you develop color paper! I think. At least, that’s how it works for me. Travis and I tore through the entire 1 liter of chems over the course of three days. I think we probably developed over 40 prints, so I’m happy with that output. However, the RA-4 chems are more stable than C-41 or E-6 chems. The replenisher of Developer is supposed to stay good for 6 weeks, and the Blix even longer.

We developed a ton of paper. Mainly contact sheets of negatives, with a few enlargement attempts thrown in. Now, did those prints actually come out like they were supposed to? Erm… not so much.

Apparently color paper is supposed to be kept in cold storage – preferably, refrigerated. Well, I only have a few different boxes of color paper (I got a box of Agfacolor Signum paper a few days ago, which I’d guess is between 10-15 years old), and I doubt either of them have even seen what a refrigerator looks like. So, after much experimentation with the Agfa paper, I’m waving the white flag and admitting defeat. No matter what sort of filter combinations I try, all of my prints seem to come out with this odd orangey cast.


Lincoln and other

Those two contact sheets were of C-41 negatives. I did those for a while, and then switched to doing some contact sheets of cross processed slide film to see if I got any change.

Lomo DC!

More Washington

Still there!

Cross processed film is funny, because the base color of the negative varies so much from film to film, as opposed to regular C-41 color negative films, which are just pretty much universally orange. Here’s this again, showing the difference between what the negatives can look like:

Xpro Comparison

This led to a lot of wild guessing as to how I needed to adjust my filters. Sometimes I got it close to right:

New York!

And sometimes, things just went really, completely bizarre:


The negative to the horse picture was bright, dark blue. My 4×5 Fuji Velvia 100 slide film is normally tinted a pale aqua, but for some reason, this particular sheet of film came out entirely dark blue. I tried compensating for that by using a filter level of +90Y +130M, but… yeah.

I only tried making one enlargement on the Agfacolor paper. I used a Kodak Portra 400VC negative, processed correctly, and here’s the best I could get the color:

Capitol, with tulips, from 1952

In retrospect, I could have done better with the color – the orange cast is there to stay, but I could have at least knocked down the green tones some by increasing the yellow filters. That said, I kind of like it. Travis said it looked like a photo from Life magazine in the 50s, and I think now that I know how the old Agfacolor paper is going to behave, I might be able to use it for some fun effects.

That being said, I’m still going to order a box of new, fresh, in-date paper next time I place an order from Freestyle.


(Don’t forget to scroll down to the post below this one and enter to win the Mercury Satellite 127!)

Muncie sunset

Hey, finally getting around to writing about cross processing! Yay, me!

Cross processing (or X-pro for the short version) is, loosely defined, the act of developing film in a process that was not intended for it. If you develop a color negative film in black and white chems, that’s cross processing. Technically, my developing Kodacolor-X (a process C-22 film) in C-41 chems is cross processing as well. But the term most commonly refers to developing color positive slide film (process E6) in color negative chemistry (process C41).

You see a lot more examples of slide film developed in color negative chems rather than the other way around for two main reasons. The first reason is most photo developing places have to send out their slide film to be processed, and those labs will probably see a roll of C41 film and actually process it in C41, whereas it’s a lot easier to sneak a roll of E6 film in a one hour photo drop off place.

Since I do my own processing, that wasn’t an issue for me. So, last time I was developing E6 films, I threw a roll of expired Kodak Vericolor III into the soup. The Vericolor is a process C-41 film. Here’s what I got:


To be honest, I kind of like this particular photo. But, see how dark the sky is? That brings me to the second reason most people don’t process C-41 films as a slide: they come out really, really dark. Especially if you are, like me, shooting 17 year old expired film through a pinhole camera and only deciding that the roll is going to be cross processed after the whole roll’s been shot.

Right. So, that picture above? That was the best picture on the roll. Pretty much everything was dark, ranging from ‘Really Dark’ to ‘Indescribably Dark’ to ‘Oh my god, it’s darker than my soul!’

Yeah. Might try this again sometime. Maybe with some forethought and planning. If I do, I’ll try to remember to overexpose by bunches.

Anyway, back to the more common form of Xpro, slide film processed as a color negative. I’ve done this before, certainly. My favorite film/camera combo is actually crossprocessed: Kodak E100G shot through the Savoy and developed as a color negative.

Big aqua aky

You see, the point of cross processing, which I somehow failed to mention until just now, is to get vivid or altered colors than you would with just a regular C41 film. It’s all the rage amongst the LOMO crowd. In fact, Lomography actually sells a film that’s made precisely for cross processing in color negative chems.

I tried it out (again, in a pinhole camera, so that may not have been the best test), and didn’t find the colors especially crazy.


Most of the other experience I’ve had with cross processing has been using Kodak brand slide films. I’ve been able to get a hold of a lot of rolls of various expired Elitechrome and Ektachrome films, so that’s what I use. And for the most part, those films tend to go all green tinty once they’ve been cross processed (except for the E100G, which is a lot more subtle, but still has a distinct ‘look’). And it looks neat at first, but after a while, it’s just more green.

I went away from cross processing for awhile, because I was sick of the green, but then I bought some Fuji Velvia 100. This was actual brand shiny new unexpired film. I know! Crazy! So I went ahead and shot a few rolls and developed them normally.

Squares and squares

And, funny thing – for some reason, I keep overexposing the crap out of them. Curse you, Velvia!!

Finally, before our trip to New York, I decided I would try shooting with film in different ways. I got over the psychological barrier of “Velvia is very expensive and people who shoot slide film worship it, so I need to use it as a slide film, too.” Yes. I would cross process Velvia, boldly and without fear!

Right before we left, I managed to pick up a box of expired 4×5 Velvia 100 film. I didn’t wind up shooting any pics in New York with it, but when we got back, I took Domo outside and took a shot with the Bollywood pinhole camera using the Velvia 100.


Not only did I finally get the exposure right on the Bollywood, but for once, I cross processed something that hasn’t gone green!

The funny thing is, I remember reading a long time ago a comment on a Flickr discussion regarding the cross-processing of Velvia. Whoever wrote it was of the opinion that it was a waste of time to do so, that the results weren’t great, and Velvia is such a fantastic slide film that it’s ridiculous to process it in any other way than E6. That must have stuck with me, and was why it took me so long to actually try it. Turns out, I’m absolutely thrilled about the results, and when I had a chance to scoop up some more Velvia 100 recently, I did so, for the express purpose of cross processing it. So, let this be a lesson to all of us – just because someone on the internet says a thing (including me!) that doesn’t mean it’s true.

After the Velvia 100 success, I cross processed 3 other slide films that day. After I scanned them in, I made an image comparing how the negative and positive image from each different film looked.

Xpro Comparison

From top to bottom, on the left side, is how the unaltered negatives look of:
1. 35mm Fuji Velvia 50, expired 2003, shot in the Savoy.
2. 4×5 Fuji Velvia 100, expired 6-2007, shot with a 5 second exposure in the Bollywood Pinhole Camera.
3. 120 Fujichrome 64T, shot in the Yashica C.
4. 120 Kodak EPP 100, exp. 2/2003, shot in the Yashica C.

On the right side is how the negatives look inverted into positives, with their levels adjusted slightly.

At this point, I haven’t done enough experimenting with these films to know if the results are consistent – I don’t know if I’m always going to get vividly green negatives with the Fuji 64T, for instance. I also don’t know if I’m going to get the same tones with Fuji Velvia 100 120 film as I got with the 4×5 film. I don’t know how being expired has effected the way these films cross process, either. I do know I’m intrigued enough to play with it more.

What I found really interested was how different Velvia 100 and Velvia 50 looked from each other. In comparison to warm tones of the Domo picture above, Fuji Velvia 50 gave me this:

Chrysler Building and sprocket holes

And this:


I wouldn’t’ve thought that two such closely related films would be so different.

The Fuji 64T was a treat, also. Besides the negatives being ridiculously green (I think I gasped with delight and shock when I pulled them out of the tank), once I inverted them I got images like these:



The “T” in 64T stands for Tungsten, by the way. That means it’s a film designed to compensate for artificial, tungsten-based indoor lighting. When you shoot it outside in daylight and process it correctly, it tends to make everything go all blue-y. After seeing the results of the Fuji 64T cross processed, I’m wondering what Kodak Tungsten balanced films will do, too.

I wasn’t as impressed with the Kodak EPP100 cross-processing.


Still, though, considering I have been getting slight purple-y tones that I alternately like and dislike with the EPP when it’s processed as a slide, this now opens up more options for this film. Which is good, considering I just got 4 boxes of it in 4×5 film. (I know, I said I was done with it. But I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse).

Of Kodacolor X and Triple Print

This past week, I did a bunch of C-41 processing with my weird, but still usable, Unicolor chems. When I had developed all of my C-41 films, I got out my little stash of odd color films that needed to be developed. I had two rolls of Kodacolor-X, Kodak’s earlier color negative film which was popular in the 60s and 70s. Kodacolor-X is supposed to be developed using a process known as C-22. From what I understand, C-22 is different from C-41 primarily in the temperature it needs to be developed. C-41 films are designed to be developed at around 104 degrees F. C-22 should be developed in colder temps, around 70 degrees F, I think. There’s also different chemical components and what not. It’s technical, so I just kind of skim over those bits.

I have developed Kodacolor X in cold C-41 chems before, somewhat successfully.

Girl and the weird thing she's sitting on

According to my Flickr notes, when I did this before, “I used room temp C-41 chems instead, and gave it about an 18 minute development time and 8 minutes in the Blix.” My main problem from doing this was that I didn’t agitate the tank enough – I guess I was afraid I’d shake off the emulsion? – and I got a big spooge streak along one side of the film. You can read more about that developing session here, if you’re interested.

Since that time, I’ve had Moominsean’s E-2 developing post bookmarked and keep meaning to try his method for E-2 processing, but I haven’t gotten around to shooting or finding any E-2 film since reading it. When I went back to it recently, I saw he had updated his post to include a few pictures from Kodacolor-X film that were processed in the same manner.

So, it was time for me to experiment! I had the two rolls of Kodacolor-X, like I said, but I also had two rolls of the dreaded, unholy Triple Print film. Triple Print is a major pain in the ass to deal with. I’ve had a small amount of success with it when I developed it as a black and white film…


…but I’ve also had my share of FAIL. So, not really expecting much results, if any, I plunged forward.

The first thing I tried, with the thought that in E-6 and Kodachrome developing, a black and white developer is applied first, was to develop a roll of the Kodacolor-X in HC110b and then cold C-41 chems. I know, I wasn’t developing a slide film. This did not deter me. So, I loaded up the mystery roll of 620 Kodacolor X and did the following:

1. Presoak in 64 degree water for 10 minutes.
2. HC110b for 10 minutes at 72 degrees.
3. Rinse.
4. Color Chems for 20 minutes at 70 degrees.
5. Blix for 8 minutes.
6. Wash for 3 minutes.
7. Stabilizer for 1 minute.

And, the results?


Ermm… Hey! I shot this photo! What the hell? This wasn’t found film at all! Apparently, in the fall of 2008 I loaded up some mystery camera with long ago expired Kodacolor-X 620 film. I have no idea what camera I used, and I have no recollection of shooting with the Kodacolor-X on purpose. Weird.

But, about the actual results?

Icy and abandoned

Not too great, I’m afraid. The negatives are in pretty good shape, no fog or anything, but the images are very faint – which makes sense, considering I was shooting on color film that was probably around 35 years old. Any residual color on the images most likely comes from the fact that I scanned this in as a color print, and the scanner had to search like hell to get any image at all. I think these pictures came out sans color, sadly.

Allrighty then. Let’s try something else. My other roll of Kodacolor-X was a roll of 127 that was delivered to me inside a Brownie Fiesta given to Travis (he has the people at his work looking out for old junky cameras for me!). Loaded that roll inside the tank and processed it in the following manner:

1. 10 minute presoak in room temperature water.
2. Color chems for 20 minutes at 72 degrees.
3. Rinse.
4. HC110b for 10 minutes at 73 degrees.
5. Blix for 8 minutes at 70 degrees.
6. Wash for 3 minutes.
7. Stablizer for 1 minute.

This is more or less Moominsean’s E-2 procedure, except I subbed out the Diafine for HC110b and omitted the black and white fixer (my guess was that the Blix would work just as well). And the results?

I have no idea what this is a picture of.

Well, okay. That looks like color, and it’s actually a decently sharp image. I don’t really have any idea of what I’m looking at, but that’s okay.

The roll in the Fiesta was only partially shot, and I shot the last few pictures on the roll really quick just to use up the film. So, how did a new picture shot on the same roll of film fare against a picture that had been ingrained in the film for decades?

Bela, all c22-ified

Ah. Well, at least with this picture we can definitely tell that the film developed in color, although with weird color shifty-color. Bela’s tags are blue and her collar is pink, just like in real life. But this picture seemed to turn out a lot grainier than the one above.

You’ll notice that I cropped the Bela picture. That’s because the top and the bottom of the film had some wickedly discolored streaks. Don’t worry. You’ll be seeing more of those.

For the next go round, I loaded up the roll of Triple Print 620 film into the tank. This particular film had a band around it with red writing on the label. I’ve been told that’s significant – apparently the red label Triple Print is easier to develop than the black label (which, unfortunately, was the label around the other roll of TP I had). Since I had some sort of success with the 127 Kodacolor-X film, I repeated the above steps for the red label Triple Print.

And the results?


That’s an unaltered, inverted scan of one of the negatives. Let adjust the levels a little bit, shall we?

Red pants!

Holy orange banding, Batman! What the heck is up with that? It’s not just on that frame, either, it runs the entire length of the film. So, is it fog? Some weird side effect from putting the film onto plastic reels with the big friendly tabs on them? No clue.

But if you get past the fog, you can see that, yes, actually, I did manage to get a color image from the Triple Print!

What the heck is up with the orange bands?

Look at the kid’s pants. Definitely red. Hair: brown. Sky: blue. It’s all coming together! This kid is so happy about it, he’s going plaid.

Kid on beach

For the fourth roll, a roll of 127 sized Triple Print with the doomed black band, I decided to not even try to get a color image. Instead, I just omitted the color chems altogether. And the results?

Yep. Nothing. 😦

I was curious, though, what the effect would be to develop a film in black and white chems and use Blix as the fix, instead of using a black and white fixer. I mean, I already have the Blix mixed up. Might as well use it.

I had a roll of film I shot a few weeks ago that had been respooled, but not exactly labeled, by me. I had no idea what type of film was in there. I figured that was a good candidate as any to try out the Blix as fixer theory. So I went ahead and developed the film in black and white chems, gave it a quick rinse (no stop bath), and then fixed with the Blix.

And the result?

S. Klein

Mmm! Grain-tacular!

True, it turns out the mystery film was some old-ass Kodak Vericolor IIIs that expired in July 1993. So, all things considered, this isn’t a bad result for 17 year old film developed in the wrong chems.

Scanning the images in as a color negative gave me some fun tones:


Ending thoughts?
1. I don’t think adding the HC110b in with the cold C41 chems necessarily helps when developing C22 films. I think I had better color results leaving it out.

2. The HC110b may be beneficial when recovering images from Triple Print films, however. I’d have to develop two of the same types of TP back to back, one using the HC110b and one without and see if I could still get color from them.

3. Triple Print sucks ass in general.

4. I still need to try developing a black and white film using black and white developer and Blix as a fixer, just to see what happens.

5. Did I mention that Triple Print sucks ass?

Bubbles, smears, and doom

Have I mentioned that I am the World’s Worst Film Developer? Because I totally am. I blame it on the fact that I have no formal training in photography at all. Also, I’m using a developing tank that leaks and a thermometer that has only the vaguest grasp on the actual temperature.

I’ve never let any of that stop me, though! No, I just charge blindly ahead, haphazardly mixing up chems and dunking film and watching in amazement when a suggestion of an image appears on a fresh negative.

I spent the past few days doing a batch of C-41 developing. I had something like 30 rolls of color film backed up, so I mixed up a liter of color chems. I used Arista’s C-41 liquid kit. At this point, I’ve tried the liquid kit and the Unicolor powder C-41 kit, and I think from now on I’m just going to order the Unicolor kit. It’s cheaper, and seems to work just as well.

The kit is supposed to develop something like 8 rolls of 35mm film, but like I said, I had 30 I needed to develop, so I just kept going and going and going. I did about 14 rolls (mainly 120, 35mm, and 126) the first day, and 16 the next. The second day, I added some chems from a Kodak Flexicolor developer replenisher kit into the developer. I didn’t know whether it would help or hurt, and I didn’t really have any directions for it, but I kind of just thought, ‘What the hell!” and threw it in. I don’t think it hurt anything, but I think I probably should have started adding it after I developed my first 6 or 8 rolls of film.

I finished almost all of the film I wanted to develop, and was going to do my last two C41 rolls and then try developing some older color film (Kodacolor X and Triple Print) with room temp chems, when I realized that the chems I were using had gotten seriously funky. Like, this funky:

At the drive in

It actually was not the dark creepy night of the apocalypse when I took this picture. That’s courtesy of my near-exhausted C41 chems, just barely able to gasp for breath. So, I decided to be done with the color processing for right now. Still, 28 or so rolls of film out of a kit that was only supposed to do 8 is pretty good (if you overlook the fact that a lot of the pictures have serious weirdness going on with them).

Have I mentioned that my developing tank leaks? It does, like a sieve, when I do inversions. The lid is cracked. It’s a bummer, and messy. I wear gloves when I develop, and hold a towel around the tank to try to minimize flinging Blix everywhere. It’s a pain in the butt. Also, I wind up getting pictures like this:

Horses II

Check out that sky. Bubbly! I thought that the sky bubbles were due to some weirdness in the temperature of the chems, but yesterday I tried stirring the chems using the swizzle stick thingy instead of doing inversions, and that seemed to solve the problem. Instead of bubbles, I got smeary things instead.

Not that I’m complaining about any of this (well, the leaky tank sucks, but I don’t feel like buying a brand new one). Maybe because I have absolutely no formal training in photography whatsoever, that allows me to not be really anal about what I’m doing. The only real bummer during this stretch of developing was that none of my 126 Instamatic film turned out. I guess that was to be expected, since it had expired in 1976 and 1981, but that was still disappointing. Plus, I always wind up destroying the Kodak Instamatic cartridges in order to remove the film, so I can’t even reuse the cartridges for respooling. Sadness.

I’ve got a ton of pictures to upload to Flickr, and some other photo-related posts I want to do here, so hopefully I’ll get some more posts up here soon. But until then, here’s a few pics:

Amish from above



Oh, in case I’m not the only person in the whole world still messing with 116 and 616 cameras, I started a Flickr group for them. So far I’m the only member, which is hilarious and sad. So if anyone out there wants to share the 116 love, feel free to join. I’m so terribly, terribly lonely… 🙂

C-41 funfest!

Well, I spent about 8 hours over 2 days developing 21 rolls of film. A pretty good haul, I think. My developer is exhausted – I tried developing a sample of something today and it just pooped out on me. Kind of weird considering I had just used it yesterday, but whatever. I was using a Unicolor powder C-41 kit from Freestyle that I had divided into thirds. I’m pretty happy with a 21 roll yield from 666 ml of developer.

I only have a few more rolls of stuff to scan in, since that’s all I’ve done yesterday and today. More than half was 35mm. That was kind of weird, since normally I work with larger format films, but it did allow me to cut down some of the processing time.

Didn’t really have any big developing fails. Some of the 120 film from the second day looks a little weird along the top edge (I think that’s when my developer started going rogue). Almost ruined a bunch of Lomo X-pro 35mm film from a pinhole camera, but I wound up only screwing up a few frames. My biggest catastrophe was my poor judgment in choosing to use the only roll of Kodacolor 116 film I had in a night shoot with a dubious camera. That kind of sucks. I haven’t even tried scanning it in yet, but it looks like there’s maybe one frame where I’ll be able to see something besides darkness. Oh well. That’s what I get for not wanting to walk around all day in DC with a 116 box camera.

But, that was the worst thing I came across, so it’s all good. I’ve onlyuploaded a little bit to Flickr so far. Here are some of the highlights.

I made 5 35mm matchbox pinhole cameras before we went to DC. I didn’t wind up using them all, and some like this one, I didn’t wind up using about 2/3 of the roll of film. It was a roll of 36 exposures, and I was shooting small square frames, so I guess the film got bound up momentarily, and I figured the roll was over. So that kind of sucks that I wasted so much film, since the exposures I got were pretty nifty.


Again at Arlington

Thinking of Jefferson

The above film was some Lomo brand X-pro 100 speed 35mm. I got it off Adorama on a whim. It was okay. The color shift wasn’t as crazy as I had expected.

I had one lonely roll of Kodak 400VC film (probably expired), so I brought that to DC, too, to try out. After I saw the results of it, I fell in love. If only I had a million rolls of this hanging out in my fridge instead of stupid Porta 160NC. 😛


Red flower

Here’s a double exposure. It’s pretty trippy.

Double exposure

The other roll of film that I’ve got some pics up from is a roll of the Portra 160NC that I cut down and respooled onto 127 backing paper. I shot it using a really rough Hawkeye Flashfun that I picked up in Medina 1. Because it was only $1 and had a roll of film inside, and 2. Because it was pink. Now, I don’t know if it’s something to do with the way I respooled the film, or just the way this junky camera works, but it would lose tension periodically through the roll and the film would kind of unwind. Who knows the heck why? Anyway, it was serendipitous, because I got some diptychs like these:

Bela Flying Diptych

Bridge Diptych

Good stuff. Also got this freaky tree pic:


Got a bunch more to put online, including one I just scanned in from the Savoy that be one of my favorite pictures ever. I love that little camera!

Developing found film

On the beach

January has really kind of sucked. It’s been very cold, and very snowy, and I haven’t had the motivation or energy to get out and take photos. So, not much else to do but try to develop some found film.

I had bought a lot of film tins on ebay, and although the tins contained a bunch of 35mm cartridges, only 3 of those actually wound up having any film in them. I’m assuming the cartridges were saved by a photographer who had developed his own film, but liked the way the empty cartridges look. I can respect that.


I developed two of the rolls of film from this lot. One came out black, which has happened to me before (when I was trying to develop the old Ektachrome film that was in the Kowa), but I got really good results from the other roll.

Top hat

I still have a roll of Kodachrome from this lot that I need to develop.

Another ebay lot I’ve gotten recently was an Argus 75 that came with 3 rolls of exposed film, and 4 rolls of unexposed film. The three exposed rolls were all Triple Print color film. After doing a bit of research, what I found out was that Triple Print film was developed using their own process – not C41, not even C22. I guess it’s kind of like Kodachrome or Agfachrome, not really workable for home developing. I went ahead and developed 2 of the 3 rolls in black and white developer.

More Christmas

I about shit when I saw how the first roll turned out. It was bright pink, and so paper-esque I thought I had mistakenly developed the backing paper instead of the film. However, it did develop, and I was able to get about 5 or 6 good, strong images.

The second roll of Triple Print turned out more of a dark amber than pink. Here is a negative from the second roll, scanned in as color:

Purple boy

The other roll, or partial roll, I developed the other day was some 120 Anscopan (black and white film). This roll was shoved in a Brownie six-20 that is only supposed to take 620 film. Halfway through the roll the film had gotten jammed, and the entire camera abandoned. I had to work some camera jujitsu, but was finally able to save 3 frames of the roll. The first pic in this post is from this roll, and you can see the chewed up corner. This film was in really bad shape.

Sure I'm taking a picture of you, sir

All in all, I was pleased with how the pics came out. It’s always hit and miss when you develop old film, since you normally don’t know how old the film is, how it was stored, etc. So, if you’re going to try this, here’s how I’ve been doing it.

First, I highly recommend that you get a rollfilm tank with an apron.


Seriously, nothing is more irritating than trying to load dry, brittle, medium format film onto a developing reel in the dark. Just avoid the problem altogether. If you can find one of these Kodacraft developing tanks on ebay or in an antique store, you’ve struck gold. I got mine from ebay from a buy-it-now auction. I was hesitant about paying as much money as I did for mine (about $17), but I’m really glad I did. It comes with 3 aprons to fit the film sizes 116, 120, or 127 (or 616 and 620). My tank is really leaky (from where the lid sits on it) and you can’t do inversion agitation, but it still works well. If you can’t find a Kodacraft tank, you can get one of these 120 film developing tanks from Freestyle. It only works with 120 (or 620) sized film, but better than nothing, and it’s under $5.00.

Interestingly, I haven’t had a problem yet loading old 35mm film into reels. Maybe it’s just better protected being in the cartridge and doesn’t dry out as fast.

Do a little bit of research before you develop your film, especially if you’re trying to develop old color negative or slide film. Apparently, if you try to develop Kodachrome in color chems, not only will it not work, but it will also screw up your chems.

I’ve got some rolls of C22 film that I’m intending on trying to develop with C41 chems, but mostly, I develop old film in black and white chems. My process is to give the film a soak in plain water for 8-10 minutes, and then develop using HC110 dilution B for 7 minutes at 66 degrees. That seems to work more often than not.

If you’ve got a decent scanner, you should be able to pick up even faint images or images from really dense negatives. What I’ve found has helped in getting a more contrasty scan is to scan my negatives in as a color negative rather than black and white.

Gone Fishing

Also, scanning black and white negs as color happens to give you really fun tinting, too.


Yeah, that’s about all I’ve got right now. Looking forward to February and the possibility of maybe an odd day or so of warmer weather. I’ve got a biggish photography project that I want to work on, but it’s on hold until the weather starts getting at least about 20-30 degrees or so.