Step 1: The Camera
Step 2: The Film
Step 3: The Chemicals
For this instructable, I used D-76 developer, Kodak Indicator Stop Bath, and NH-5 Fixer (without the hardener.) I felt like this was a good combination of chemicals, and I would recommend reading up on the developing process a little more before making alterations to my list. This is because the steps for processing may be a little different than the ones I have outlined.
Mix the chemicals according to the manufacturer's instructions. Generally, this evolves filling a bottle with 3/4 of the required water, adding the concentrated chemical, and then adding the remaining water required. I prefer to mix my photography chemicals in dark opaque bottles, because I find that they have a slightly longer shelf life this way. If you don't see yourself working with the chemicals very often, make only what you will need to develop the number of rolls you have, because the chemicals have a far longer shelf life when concentrated. Make only stock solutions, with no dilution. Let the bottles sit in the room you will be developing in overnight to equalize the temperature, and insure that the chemical is properly mixed.
Step 4: The Equipment
Changing Bag - This is used to provide a light-free environment so that you can transfer the film from the roll in the canister to the reel in the tank. If you are cheap, and feeling daring, you could do this at night, in a room, under the covers, with all the lights turned out, instead of using a changing bag. I've never done it this way, but I've heard of it working for some people.
Developing Tank - This is the container that will hold the film for the duration of the developing process. It has a light proof lid, a spout to allow chemicals to be poured in and out, and a reel, which will hold the film. The tanks I use are about as simple as they come, and I don't really feel like I've ever needed one with any other functions or features. Make sure you read the instructions very carefully, because every tank is a little different.
Scissors - To cut the film while you're in the changing bag. I strongly recommend using a shorter model, with a rounded tip for safety. You know, the kind kindergartners use.
Church Key - Those things that you use to open cans. You will use this to open the film canister.
Step 5: Transferring the Film to the Reel
First, load the scissors, church key, tank with all pieces, and the film canister into the changing bag. Zip both zippers closed.
Put BOTH of your arms through the elastic arm holes.
Arrange your tools so that you know where they are. I prefer to lay my tools towards the front of the bag, closest to me, so that they will be out of the way, yet still accessible.
Open the film tank and remove the reel.
Using the church key, pry off the BOTTOM of the film canister. This is the side WITH OUT the little nub poking out of the center.
Using the scissors, cut about three inches of film off of the beginning of the reel and discard it.. This is the leader, which is the funny shaped strip of film at the beginning of the roll. Cut the corners off of the end of the remaining film, so that the film moves through the reel more easily.
Start the film on the reel, insuring that you are wrapping with the natural curve of the film. Begin loading the reel using the procedure outlined in the manufacturer's instructions. This generally involves a ratcheting wrist motion.
Once you have reached the end of the roll, cut off the plastic reel at the end, and load the tank's reel back into the tank. Close the lid. Double check that your film is now light-safe.
Open the bag and remove your tools. You are now ready to process the film.
Step 6: Pre-wash
Step 7: Developer
Get your timer out. I used my iPod because it has easy-to-read numbers. Zero it out, and then place your tank in the sink. Pour in the required amount of developer, and then start the timer. Allow the developer to sit in the tank for a total of 6 minutes 30 seconds. This is assuming that you are developing your film with D-76 at stock strength in a room which is 68-70 degrees F. Agitate the film for 10 seconds every 30 seconds by shaking the tank slightly from side to side. In the last 30 seconds of processing, agitate the film continuously. 10 seconds before the timer gets to "6:30" begin pouring out the developer. Insure that you are doing this while the water is running.
Step 8: Stop Bath
Step 9: Fixer
Step 10: Rinse
Step 11: Removal and Drying
Step 12: What to Do With the Developed Film
If you are going to have prints made at a lab or drug store, it is best to leave your film in one long strip. It is easier on the film techs to run the film through the paper processor in one long strip, rather than five or size smaller strips. After you have your prints made, you may wish to cut the negatives into strips of five or six frames for easy storing. The film tech may even offer to do it for you after they have finished processing your film. Whatever you do, make sure that the strips have no fewer than four frames a piece. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting the film strip stuck inside the paper processing machine.
Store your negatives completely dry in a dust free environment. I like to separate the individual film strips with paper, but that is optional.
Step 13: Modifications and Other Information
-You may wish to omit using a stop bath. Instead, rinse the film for about one minute in between the developer and the fixer.
-The alternative is to use something called an alkaline fixer, such as TF4, which does not require a stop bath; only a rinse in between the developer and fixer.
-Some advocate the use of a hardening fixer. I see this as a waste, personally. If you elect to use a hardening fixer, do so after you've processed several rolls without the hardener component. If you use a hardening fixer, I strongly recommend using a hypo-clear rinsing agent as well.
-36 exposure film is more difficult to load than 24 exposure film due to the longer length.
-Black and white film is difficult to find at a drug store or grocery store. You'll probably have to order it, along with your chemicals, online. Be sure to check if the company will ship chemicals (B&H will not.) Order several rolls so you don't get stiffed on shipping one roll of film. Even if you decide that processing the film yourself isn't for you, you can still take it to a photo lab and have it processed like normal people do.
-Remeber to experiment with different types and styles of photographs. You don't have much to loose; film and chemicals are cheap.