College Art Jounal

News / 28 September 2018

Photography – Processing Negatives


I had no idea that processing film into negatives was such an involved process! Despite constantly taking reels of film to be developed as a child, I never gave much thought to how it worked behind the scenes, so the length of time it took simply to process negatives seemed astounding to me.


To begin, we had to load the film from the canisters onto spirals, which went inside a large pod, with space for 3 rolls of film inside. This had to be done in a pitch black room, as (obviously) the film was light sensitive. We took the pods into the darkroom, where we learned what chemicals to use to properly process the film.


First, we used developer. This was mixed at a 1:1 ratio with water, and the solution had to be kept at 20C to keep our timings accurate. We poured this solution into the pods at 300ml per reel, and left it for 13 minutes. Every 30 seconds we agitated the solution to ensure an even coverage. Next, after pouring out the developer, a stop bath was used to neutralise any left over developer on the film. This was reusable, so we poured the excess back into the jug. Lastly, we used fixer to make sure there was nothing left on the film that would tarnish the image. This also makes the image on the film lightfast and permanent.


After this, we washed the film and hung it to dry. I was very excited to see my negatives out. I have enjoyed my photography lessons more than my lessons involving drawing, and for me, that is making me feel a bit conflicted about the direction I want to take. I have always liked to draw, but I feel myself excited by the ideas I have for interesting photography, which is very unexpected as I have never really been interested in the topic previously. It is a little bittersweet, as I feel more unsure of my future and my creative aspirations.


Needless to say, I am very eager to see my photographs developed next week.