Screenshot image from the video by Jonathan Notley
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to develop your own color negative films at home but feel it’s too complicated, There are actually plenty of resources out there that will tell you it’s actually pretty easy. Part of the misconception is brought by the fact that it needs three chemicals (developer, bleach, fixer, or developer, bleach + fixer, stabilizer) instead of two (developer and fixer) for black and white developing. To show you how it’s easier than you think, English photographer Jonathan Notley has recently made a video tutorial for developing color films using Tetenal Colortec C41 chemicals.
On a quick note for those who are just getting into film photography, why would you need to learn how to develop your own films when there are labs who can do the work for you? Well, the main reason is it completes the film photography experience, especially if you’re part of the younger generation who are plunging into this photographic medium for the first time. Admittedly, it can be daunting when you factor in the possibility that a mistake in the process can result to not getting any photos at all. But thankfully, people like Jonathan are making it easier for you to take the next step to your film photography journey with their helpful tutorials.
As Jonathan demonstrates with his Tetenal Colortec C41 kit, the hardest parts of developing color films are mixing your chemicals with the right proportion and quantity, and getting these chemicals to be in the right temperature based on the ISO of your film. But what he also shows is that you can easily set everything up in your kitchen sink or bathroom tub.
Once the chemicals are at the right temperature, Jonathan proceeds to the actual developing process. What’s really helpful with his tutorial is aside from showing the order of the chemicals, he gives some small tips that can be easy to miss or overlook. Make sure to agitate the roll within the first minute, tap the tank a few times to get rid of bubbles, and remember that the potency of the bleach + fixer chemical is reduced with every use so you’d have to leave your film in longer.