Art 198
Independent Study in Black&White Photography

Technical Darkroom Issues

Film Development

The basic procedure for film development is as follows. You need, first, to have all solutions prepared in advance. If you prepare some solutions immediately before development, allow a little time for them all to come to room temperature.

You need to calculate the development time. This depends on what developer you are using, on the particular film, and on the temperature. For Kodak T-MAX developer, refer to their technical information at for development times at different temperatures for Plus-X film. Measure the temperature of the developer and use the technical data to determine the correct development time.

In complete darkness, break open the film canister, cut the small leader off, and roll the film into a plastic reel. (You will have to tear the final end of the film off the tape that secures it to the spool.) Place the reel in the tank and close the lid securely. (In the Jobo tank, this is done by fitting the lid over the tank and, then, pressing the red ring firmly down over the lid until you hear it click into place all around.

At this point you can turn on the lights and you can delay the process indefinitely. When ready to develop the film, pour the developer into the tank until it is full to the opening. Set the timer for the proper development time. Rotate the tank several times and strike it abruptly on the bottom to release any bubbles that may have adhered to the film. Agitation and striking should continue regularly throughout the development process. Place a large funnel in the developer storage bottle.

At the end of the development time, immediately pour the developer out into the developer storage bottle and pour the stop solution into the tank. Agitate in the standard way for up to one minute. Pour the stop solution into its storage bottle.

Pour the fixing solution into the tank and begin agitation. Time the fixing process to about five minutes with regular agitation. At the end of time, pour the fixing solution into its storage bottle and pour in the hypo-clearing (Orbit) solution. Return the hypo-clearing solution to its storage bottle and open the tank. Immediately begin flushing the tank with clear tap water. The running water wash can continue for 15-20 minutes.

At the end of the water wash, remove the reel from the tank and separate the top of the reel so that the film comes out in a large roll. Place the film in a tall wide graduate filled with the dilute Photo-Flo solution and rinse quickly. Draw the film out of the Photo-Flo solution through a clean squeegie (wet and ring as dry as you can) all in one long smooth motion. Hang the film to dry (usually with metal clips on each end).

Paper Development

For Ilford developers, see the technical information at and download the appropriate PDF files for printing.

Arrange the trays in the sink for development, stop, fixing 1, fixing 2, hypo-clear, and water washing.

If you use old solutions which have been left in the trays or stored in bottles, make sure that you know how old they are and how many papers were processed. If you do not know this information, throw the solutions away and make fresh solutions! If you save your solutions for later work or for use by other students, be sure to carefully mark the creation date and the number of prints processed.

Set the process timer for the appropriate times. Ilford RC paper developer is fast, requiring only one minute for development if you dilute it 1-9. Place the print face down in the developer tray (to avoid fogging by the safelights) and start the process timer. Agitate the print by rocking the tray. Be sure to thoroughly stop development by completely immersing your print in the stop bath and agitating it for at least 30 seconds. The Ilford RC fixer is also a rapid processing agent. We use two fixing solutions so that fixer 1 absorbs the residual chemicals and fixer 2 completes the process and remains fairly pure. (Periodically, fixer 2 should be moved to fixer 1 and new fixer solution made for fixer 2.) The print should be fixed with agitation for at least 30 seconds total, but do not over-fix the print. With about 60 seconds in hypo-clearing agent, your print should be well washed after about five more minutes in running water. Do not leave prints in the water wash too long because water can begin to penetrate the edges of the resin coating.

To dry RC papers, either pat dry with paper towels or use a clean squeegee on a flat surface. Set the prints out to air dry.

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