Developing C41 Color :: Not my proudest moment

Please keep in mind the select few images I am sharing are for the purpose of reporting a process and not for critique.

I shot quickly through a roll of Portra 400 (120) over Easter with the intent of developing it myself. I finally got the chemistry in on Friday last week and promptly mixed it all and proceeded to developed my first roll of color.

For those that are curious, this is what I ordered. It’s actually a very simple kit to use. They give you pouches of powder that, when adding 110 degree water, gives you Developer, Blix (2 part powder) and Stabilizer. And each solution can be kept in a 1 liter accordion style bottle. Mixing it wasn’t bad. The powders dissolve quickly in the hot water and for the most part made very little mess. With a house full of children I do want to give warning that this chemistry is nasty stuff. This isn’t something to use and store near children. I keep all my chemicals in our basement out of reach from the small and curious.

I enjoy black and white development. There seems to be a bit of leeway with each step of the process. An element of relaxation exists while you wait for the development time to lapse.

Color, for me, didn’t seem like this at all. First of all, the temperature has to be higher for the developer AND the blix. With the equipment I had, I needed to create a water bath for the bottles to sit in while I did each step. The Paterson tank I used was also a little leaky. This usually isn’t a big deal with B&W, but this C41 kit forces you to reuse all the chemistry and there isn’t a whole lot there to begin with. The development time is a lot shorter. Only three and a half minutes needed with frequent agitation. So during inversions(agitation), the developer or blix would leak out and get on the counter space or my arms and hands. Not good.

In the end, I accidentally threw blix into my developer and destroyed my batch of developer. My negs also turned out a little wonky in color. ¬†Will I do this again? Absolutely. I am a glutton for punishment and look forward to nailing down this process. Look for some color 4×5’s soon! That is, after I get my new batch of chemistry…

meganMay 16, 2011 - 4:34 pm

I actually really like the colors. What fun!

Ricki FordJune 9, 2011 - 3:08 pm

A lot of digital shooter would pay good money to get that PP in photoshop.

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