How to Prepare for Black and White Film Developing

Black and white film developing is rewarding to both the professional and amateur, but requires some preparation and forethought. Read the Steve's Digicams article "Getting Supplies for Home Film Developing" to get an idea of what supplies you will need in order to develop black and white film.

Here are a few ideas as to what you should do to prepare for black and white film developing.

Step 1 - Set Up a Darkroom

A darkroom can be, and often is, an out of the way area, like a basement or attic bathroom, that gets no natural light. Darkrooms are used for the processes of film developing and printmaking. Find a room in your home that fits these criteria. Bathrooms are ideal because they typically have sinks and hardwood or tiled floors. A water source is necessary for photographic development, and a solid floor is preferable to a carpeted one in the event of chemical spillage.

Step 2 - Set Aside a Bit of Money

A great part of black and white developing is that it does not require a great expense. To get set up for developing film, expect to spend $50-100. If you decide to make prints as well, you will need more equipment an an enlarger, which may itself run into three figures.

Step 3 - Research the Process

The process by which light is recorded and fixed to a photographic emulsion is fascinating. Take some time to look up the process and the chemicals involved in either a print or online source. Wikipedia is the number one free online resource, and offers numerous articles about the science and history of photography.

Step 4 - Obtain an Appropriate Camera and Film

The most common type of film used in photography is standard 35mm. Any 35mm camera is compatible with black-and-white 35mm film, but it is advised that you use a single lens reflex (SLR) camera. SLRs are completely manually controlled. Many do not even use batteries. With an SLR, you can determine your shutter speed, f-stop, zoom level, and focus. An SLR is to a point and shoot what a standard is to an automatic: it has a steeper learning curve, but allows for more control and has a more authentic feel.

It is a misconception that color film can be developed in black and white with black and white chemicals. Color film must be developed differently than black and white film, with a more involved process. Thus, you must obtain black and white film. If your local department store does not carry black and white film, head to a photography store or order your film from a catalog or online source.

Step 5 - See the World in Black and White

Black and white is photography in its truest form. Colors are distracting, and have the potential to destroy, rather than make, a photograph. Start looking for simpler subjects and admire form over color: your next great photos may not be sweeping vistas and wide skyscapes, but simple scenes of smoke rising and snow falling.

Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: