Okay. For years, my rule of thumb has been to take my film rolls to my pro lab of choice, McGreevy Pro Lab in downtown Albany. And for years, this has been a worthwhile endeavor. Even today, I still swear by McGreevy’s efforts.
But recently, they stopped developing slide film. No more E-6. No matter, I’ll send that batch over to Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas.
Then McGreevy cut their developing sessions to once per week. If I didn’t get the film to them by Wednesday, it would have to wait at least a week until the next developing date. Which I can work around … but still …
And if I want to develop those rolls of AGFA Scala that need their own special development process, those rolls have to go to DR5 in Indiana.
And if I get my mitts on that Kodak Ektachrome 70mm film that’s been freezer-stored all these years … wow, 616 slide film … I’m going to have to really look around for a lab that can develop 616 slide film without giving me a “what the hell did you send me, Miller?” stare.
Now here’s the thing. I could find a way to outfit my apartment with all the materials needed for developing my own film, and maybe it’s about time I did so.
That being said … there may be a solution for me.
There’s two options for home development – something called a Paterson Tank, and something else called a Lab-Box. After watching some YouTube videos – yes, you can learn lots of things on YouTube – I’m sensing that as long as I practice with old, unshootable film in the dark room (also known as my bathroom), I can load a Paterson tank with either 35mm film or 120 film (and maybe there’s some reels for 616 film or 127 film, in case I’m feeling frisky). The more I look at the Lab-Box, the more I worry that it looks flimsy and prone to breakage.
After consulting with some of my Facebook friends, it looks as if I should try black and white film first, as it should be a good film to develop for beginning shooters.
And there’s a product called Cinestill D96 monobath, which apparently can be used at room temperature and involves only one chemical (plus a water wash afterwards). You mean … it can be that simple?
All right. At some point, I’ll purchase a Paterson tank and some of this Cinestill chemical. Then, after doing so, I’ll shoot a test roll of black and white film … you know, something simple, like Kodak Tri-X or something along those lines … probably won’t try my luck with efke or Svema or any of the real esoteric stuff until I’m comfortable working on my own homebrew.
I know it’s the end of August, but my New Year’s Resolution for 2022 … if I can, at least learn how to develop my own film stock. Or at least learn to develop some of the film stock, the kind I can actually work with.
And even if I do this on my own, I’m not going to pass on McGreevy Pro Lab or any of my other developing outposts. Trust me, I’m already taking a chance in doing this.
Hey, I mean, it’s just like riding a bicycle, right?
No, seriously, right??
And if any of you out there have suggestions, tips, or prayers … let me have them in the comments section below.
Well I did it for years. Easy? Relative. Mostly it’s complex and needs careful attention. These days it’s also expensive, especially the initial capital investment for equipment. But yes, start with B&W.
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