On Tuesday morning I had taken my Holga along with a roll of Ilford HP5 film to work with me, I walked around the churchyard opposite the office on my lunch break and shot all 12 exposures, so I already had a roll of film to process when I ordered my processing equipment. I ordered the equipment starter pack and the chemicals starter pack from AG Photographic online. So today I had the house to myself after lunch, I unpacked all the boxes and began the process. This is my first time ever processing film.
I had a suspected fried roll of Ilford Pan F film that had gone accidentally through my hold luggage recently. So I sacrificed this roll to practice loading the reel. I made sure the reel was expanded to fit a 120mm roll of film. I peeled off the backing paper and loaded the reel a few times in daylight, then with my eyes closed. Finally I put the test film and reel inside the changing bag. My XL changing bag is by Pixel Peeper (Amazon), its double zipped and measures 1metre sq. I stood a wooden spoon up inside the bag to create a little space. I found it easy to load the reel, the only thing I struggled with was feeling the difference between the film and the backing paper, as both were very glossy.
I do have a broom cupboard under my stairs, I sat inside a few days ago and it is pitch black when the door is closed. It would make a great place to load the reel and tank. One problem – Spiders!
There was a lot of math involved in getting the dilution of the chemicals exact. Making sure the developer was at 2o degrees and setting my iPhone stopwatch to 11 minutes. I thought the chemicals would be very smelly, but they weren’t. I did feel a bit dizzy when the developer was in the tank, but quickly realised I was holding my breath in one minute increments. I gently rocked the tank every minute for the full 11 minutes.
So the process was followed: 11 mins develop – Stop – Fix and then a final long wash. Every different variable of film and developer has a different recipe, I was using Ilford HP5 and my developer is Paranol S.
I took the reel apart and there they were: 12 exposures…I need to invest in a few airtight plastic bottles so that I can keep my stop and fix solutions, I did pour them away on this occasion. Never mind – lesson learned. On the final wash I added a wetting agent which takes any film off the surface of the water. Making sure your negatives are super clean. My Dad told me that he used to add one tiny drop of washing up liquid to his final wash.
I took the negatives upstairs and hung them in my bathroom for about 90 minutes using the weighted clips in the pack, then I cut and scanned them using my new Epson V600 scanner. The pictures are typical soft Holga images, but I really wanted to illustrate that they were processed and correct. I did it, I made negatives.