There’s something about film

Film always has the risk of not developing into the result you intended for.

Or in this case, the contrary. This was supposed to be a bad shot. The camera shifted just as I released the shutter. However, I never leave an exposed film undeveloped so I did something wacky. I recycled used E6 processing chemicals to develop it.

I use Tetenal’s 3-bath E6 kit for all my colour slides. The kit consists of a first developer, a colour developer and a bleach-fix to complete the process. Only the first developer is tricky because the development time and a constant temperature of 38°C are critical in determining the outcome. I was stingy so the first developer used to develop this slide was its second reuse. Being lazy at the same time, I just let the slide sit in the developer for a long time without the constant temperature bath. The result was an almost transparent slide.

I thought that all was lost until I put the slide on a sheet of card. It actually looked cool. All the imperfections added up to create an effect that resembles a Polaroid transfer. When there’s nothing left to lose, nothing to expect, any result is a satisfactory one – and sometimes lady luck will sprinkle some fairy dust to work some magic!


7 thoughts on “There’s something about film

    1. Yup, the price skyrocketed around 2006-2007 when consumer DSLR gradually replaced the film equivalents. Film prices too and expired films become rare on ebay because the pros don’t use them anymore 😦
      You can try and mix your own if raw chemicals are accessible.
      The usual caveat applies because the “experts” don’t agree
      Just a note if you do try doing E-6 (whatever the chemicals), your method for a basin of water bath is a workable solution if a regulated bath is not available. You may need to “calibrate” your optimum bath temperature and volume of water so that it stays within the first developer tolerance over the required time. Basically you can afford to lose 1-2 degrees C over 6 minutes. The more water there is in the bath, the longer it takes to lose temperature. You can do dry runs to check how temperature falls and find ways to slow down the drop (adding hot water, short heating with immersion heater, etc.).

  1. film is absolutely magical, i agree. waiting for the results is something else! but also it takes quite a bit more skill, in my opinion.. especially when using the old manual SLRs or rangefinders. and i love developing! ive only done b/w so far.. i’d love to get myself an E6 or C41 kit.. but the temp control problems worry me a bit. maybe after a bit more practice with the more forgiving b/w chemistry

    1. Actually with E6 and C41, the only time and temperature critical is the first developer. It’s a short phase, about 6 mins for E6 and around 3-4 for C41 (shorter if you dare raise the temperature higher). The times are for Tetenal’s kits but other brands are in the same ballpark figure. For temperature, you just need a well insulated bath or a thermostatically controlled warmer for the stated times. The rest of the process is develop to finish so you can generally extend 1 or 2 minutes to guarantee that things goes as planned. In fact, it’s a lot more tolerant than one might have you think because you can mostly correct any slight colorimetric errors during scanning (that’s what I do anyway). B/W IMHO, on the other hand, can be extremely sensitive to process changes and you pay the errors while printing…Thanks for reading 🙂

      1. ah i see. like b/w too, the temp is only crucial for the developer. but yeah, its not THAT crucial in b/w. wat do u use to keep ur temp just right? for b/w, i just use a large basin with warm water, or (usually) ice

      2. For B/W, a large bassin is more than sufficient but I don’t do that anymore. I just leave sufficient water at ambient temperature and adapt all my development times to that as the darkroom temperature is quite fix throughout the year. For E6 and C41, I have an old (probably the first generation) JOBO rotary processor with integrated temperature controlled water bath.

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