View Full Version : Black and White processing

Ron Clark
22-03-06, 21:29
Surely I canít be the only one who is interested in processing my own black and white films and then producing my own prints from the negatives. Indeed, according Amateur Photographer Iím not and the response they had to a letter in the last issue of last year asking about this was such that they re-ran the article from 2003 by Chris Gatchum that was mentioned in the letter. Anyway Ė I have made a start by enrolling with North Warwickshire College for a course in basic photography and things seem to be going well. However, I have a few questions that I could do with being answered and hope that someone on here will oblige me with the answers. So then Ö

1. I bought a 1 litre box of ID11 developer yesterday and according to the instructions that is enough to develop 10 films. If I develop 2 films each time (thereís room for 2 X 35mm spools in my Ďdí tank), does this limit on 10 films still stand?

2. Next, the used chemicals Ö having developed 2 films at once, do I have to keep that portion of solution separate or do I put it back in the with the fresh stuff? If I have to keep it separate, how do I work out timings for future use (if it can be reused that is)?

3. Finally (for now at least :) ), how can I safely dispose of the used chemicals please? I really donít fancy flushing it down the toilet Ė and in any case the instructions say not do that anyway.

Any help on these questions or any other pointers would be very gratefully received as I have 2 films to process right now and would like to get them done ready for printing next Monday night at college.


22-03-06, 21:44
Ron I am presuming the developer is powder and not liquid it could be different from what I used in the 80's here is a webpage with a downloadable pdf file instructions. http://www.silverprint.co.uk/chem37.html I will have a read and see if I can help you. Black & white was my business at one time so it shouldn't take me long to refresh my brain. LOL!


Don Hoey
22-03-06, 22:20
Co'r Ron, I will also have to engage brain.
I will let this sit in my mind overnight.......... Bit of a cheat answer as the expert is on the case.:)

Two quick thoughts come to mind re developer.

My rule with mixed developers was to store in glass airtight bottles. I will look tomorrow but there was an inert gas that could be used to expell air before screwing on the cap. In this form it will last well. If air gets to it, it will degrade quite quickly. Same applies to dish deleloper for prints.

2nd rule always use fresh developer. Do not put dev that has been used or exposed to atmosphere for any length of time in with fresh.

You will certainly enjoy Monday.

Will check back tomorrow.


22-03-06, 22:26
Ron hopefully someone can come back to you with more information.

When I started out doing the odd film I only ever did the one-shot method I remember working out the dilutions and times so I could just use the one small tank, then disposing of the chemical and use fresh for the next set of films, I found I got more consistent results that way.
I am not sure whether I did use the ID11 further diluted or the perceptol, it maybe better if someone else could come in and say whether the ID11 can be further diluted and times altered accordingly. I don't want to give you the wrong advise.
When I did deep tanks to develop 50+ films at a time I had to alter the times after doing so many. To test how much I had to alter the time, I had a roll of film taken of a test card, I kept this roll and just cut off a small piece containing a couple of frames and gave it the adjusted time in the chemical to check it out. The same for the one shot solution it makes sure you don't make a mistake on your important negs.

22-03-06, 22:29
It's got to be over 20yrs since I processed fp4 b & w film. Temperature and time is important as well. I remember during the winter months keeping the chemicals warm was a problem. For the film I would not re-use the developer but OK for the paper. Today chemical disposal is a problem. I work in the printing industry (press) and the green rules are slowly forcing the use of processless printing plates. The days of silver film, developers and fixers are numbered.

22-03-06, 22:39
Don, thanks for reminding me about taking the air out of the chemicals, very important, it can go off rather quickly, you do have to make sure as much air is expelled as possible. They do make concertina type bottles, or they did, as you use the solution you can slowly collapse the bottle to expel the air. I had different coloured concertina bottles for each solution, so I didn't get them mixed up.

22-03-06, 22:40
Robski are we old foggies LOL!

22-03-06, 23:44
For the last few years that I did my own processing I also used the one shot method, using the Jobo CPE-2 Plus Processor for Film and Prints, but I did have all the different size print and film tanks.
As these tanks revolved in a thermostatically controlled water bath, maintaining a constant temperature was never a problem.

I also use the concertina type storage bottles. As for disposal, well this always went down the household drains.

Quote from the Ilford site "Amateur and home users in the UK should dispose of small amounts of used photographic processing solutions by dilution with plenty of water and washing them down the drain. Do not mix solutions." but not if you have a septic tank



Don Hoey
23-03-06, 00:31
So I could not stay away.

The last time I used a darkroom was about 5 years ago so a bit rusty. When we moved to Norfolk I packed it all up and its in the loft.
I've been up there hoping I may have kept some of the product leaflets but afraid not. I did however find a Kodak brochure with temps and times to refresh the grey cells. This could become a collection of reminicences that need tying up. Someone says something and that triggers a thought with some one else.

Rob and Harry both mention temperature control. I used to use a washing up bowl with some water at 20 deg to help maintain solution temps.

One shot liquid developer. As I was doing 120 film or 35mm Tech Pan I was only doing 1 roll at a time.

Harry's Jobo CPE-2 Plus Processor was the bees knees for colour but I never could afford that.

Just dug out a Jessops catalogue and Ilford ID11 is a liquid.

Just checked and I see we are all here but for Ron !!


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 00:48
They do make concertina type bottles, or they did, as you use the solution you can slowly collapse the bottle to expel the air. I had different coloured concertina bottles for each solution, so I didn't get them mixed up.


Looking at the Jessops catalogue yes they do. Now called Accordion bottle £ 2.49 ea. code JESAB1.

I colour coded my caps with nail varnish. There are some bright colours out there.:D


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 00:56
Again catalogue job but it may jog thoughts. I am guessing Ron bought his chems in Jessops. I know in Kings Lynn it is all front of store stuff.

Ilford ID11 Developer
Ilford Stop Bath
Ilford Hypam Fixer
Ilford Wetting Agent

Now that just reminded me of fairly vigourous initial agitation to remove air bubbles. Or a sharp tap.


23-03-06, 00:58
Don, The only reason that I could afford the Jobo CPE processor is that I managed to pick it up cheap at an auction. although it's primary use was for colour, I also used it for developing my B&W film and for B&W prints as well.

I sold all my film based equipment shortly after buying my second digital camera (Minolta D7) back end of 2001

I remember only to well using a washing up bowl filled with hot water, The temp for B&W wasn't too critical, but processing reversal was, so that was carried out over the kitchen sink.

Safety didn't seem to be a concern those days, for the second exposure of the reversal film I used a 100w 240v photoflood suspended approx 18 inches above the water. Residual Circuit breakers had not been thought of then :)

What a merry time we used to have, the best thing that ever happened in the photographic world was when it went digital.


23-03-06, 01:11
It was a good learning curve and fun at the time but I would not want to go back to it. I never had a proper darkroom. Trying to blank out light during the summer evening was a pain. After a while you would still see a chink of light shining through.

To load the film into the drum I would do this with the bedroom curtains closed under a thick duvet. Pitch dark under there. Develop and dry the film during the day and make the prints in the evening.

Remember the fun of making contact prints and test exposures. It was only last year I carted all my darkroom books down the charity shop.

Don Hoey
23-03-06, 01:18

As far as colour goes you are dead right there.

Tried colour neg but each time the filtration needed changing so moved to Cibachrome, Lots easier in that respect but sitting in the dark to let the eyes adjust to the sodiumsafelight for half an hour before starting was a pain. I had a Paterson drum roller but it had to be washed and dried after each print so I finally resorted to a 3 slot deep tank. When a new product was coming out at work it was a casual call from publicity for a pic. No problem. On the way out of work it was could we have 50 by the morning. 50 prints all the same arrh !!

I did enjoy B & W though and the deep tank did save a big washing up session at end of play.

Now I just shut down the computer.


23-03-06, 01:24
Rob I think we all went through this, but in my day we didn't have duvets. I do agree with you regarding, being "fun at the time"

Must admit though to having a super permanent darkroom with all the mod con's, for the last few years of using film.


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 01:34
I still have a tape that I used to play in the darkroom REALLY LOUD lots of powerful tracks. In the darkroom I always printed by the seat of my pants so as to speak. Make a rough printing map then go for it. The only way I could reasonably do another copy was by starting the enlarging sequence with the same track playing.

I had to add the title of the music to the printing map in case of an additional print request.

Crazy days


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 11:00

I have just been up in the loft again as most of our last house is still up there. Too much stuff and although I doubt that I chucked in in the move I can't be sure.

I will have to rely on internet info for now.

To help it would be nice to know how far you have progressed. ie Are you just starting. It helps to tailor any useful links or info.


Ron Clark
23-03-06, 11:20
WOW! What a great response from so many fellow members, thank you all.

Now then – I’ve printed out the ID11 leaflet that Don posted the link to and will read it all later today.

I’ve seen the ‘accordion’ bottles that a couple of you mention and will look for some but I’m not sure of using Jessops though. The only branch of theirs that has been of any use in helping me so far is in Coventry and although it’s not far, we can kiss goodbye to around 2 hours for the drive both ways and the walking around while we’re there. I may be retired but I still begrudge times where I might be better employed doing other things. Jessops Nuneaton branch is about as much use as chocolate tea pot!!! So many bad experiences with that shower and while we were in Oswestry yesterday I found that the branch there wasn’t much better. Anyway – we’ll see about getting to Coventry either today or tomorrow.

As to why I wasn’t about later last night after posting my questions – Jan and I had a trip out to North Wales yesterday and we were both knackered and had an early night. Besides – I didn’t expect such a quick response ;-)


23-03-06, 11:29

Jessops is not one of my favouriteHigh Steet companies, but I do find their online shop to be very good.



Ron Clark
23-03-06, 19:12
My expereince Don is pretty mixed in that I first started using a darkroom at the school photography club in the early 1960s. After that I let it all go by until I was stationed in Cyprus while in the army in 1978/9 and had access to the unit darkroom there. I haven't done any since then until just this few weeks when I enrolled in this course we're doing at North Warwickshire College.

What's puzzling me though is the instructions say that the 1 litre pack of ID11 will process 10 films - yet using 2 spolls takes up 600mls of solution and I can then do another film with the remaining 400mls. So where does the 10 films come from? The only way I can see this is by re-using the solution and extending the processing time otherwise it's going to get very expensive if I was use it a 'one shot stock'. Anyway - I have the stuff and 2 HP5s to do and will get them done tomorrow but I will keep the solution in a sperate accordian bottle (I got 3 from Jessops in Coventry today), and when it's full use it again making the allownaces that the printout form your link suggested. But even so it looks at though 9 films will be the limit.

I suppose it's all just having to re-learn what I knew before and so on - but that's part of my problem really - I want everything done 2 weeks ago ;-)


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 19:52
I will go away and see if I can find out a bit more on the dev. All this stuff in the loft drives me crazy at times. I bet I find it up there once we have got our answer. This has happened to me with other things on more than one occasion.

Maybe we have a ghost. :D


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 20:03
I will post this link before I read it. Had a few pc probs recently and I may have a job finding it again.
It is a pdf file so I can save it to my pc for future reference. http://www.ilford.com/html/us_english/PDF/ID-11.pdf


Don Hoey
23-03-06, 20:40
I will post this link before I read it. Had a few pc probs recently and I may have a job finding it again.


Amazing. I should become a fortune teller. Started on the PDF and pc froze so just done a restart.


Having read the sheet I remember the product now. The answer is in this extract from the instructions. Page 8 of PDF file

[ If a series of individual films is being developed in 1 litre of stock ID-11, compensate for the loss of developer activity after developing the first film by increasing the development time 10% for each successive film - see table. This method of adjustment is assuming that either the whole litre or part of the litre is used to develop each film. If only part of the developer is used then its used and unused parts are mixed together before processing of subsequent films ]

Hope this helps.


23-03-06, 20:51
Thats the way I read it Ron. I personaly would still have a go at working out dilutions of the stock solution and times, so I could still get the 10 films but throw away after each film so keeping main solution fresh. I am not saying to do that its just the type of thing I would try if it was me.

In the past I remember checking out a drum with water and an old piece of film and put cling film over the end and putting just enough liquid in until I could see that the film was covered. I would stand and hand turn the canister on its side and just keep rolling it back and to for the development time. Most times I only used half of the chemical that was recommended.

That was me I always liked to cut corners.

Adey Baker
23-03-06, 22:59
Anybody want to buy some 30-year old, unused D76? ;)

25-03-06, 19:20
I still have about 300gms of metol and 500 gms of hydroquinone in the attic.