Back to the Roots – My Own Black-and-White Film Development

It has been ages since I had last developed a black-and-white film myself. In fact I think it may have been as long ago as the mid 80s (when I was a teen). Since then I had relied on capable labs – mainly for its convenience. You may also call it laziness.

But over the past months I had grown the desire to get back to the old-fashioned way of hand-developing my films. And so it happened that after quite some prep-time doing some research and acquiring all the necessary equipment this weekend I indeed have developed my first own film in over three decades.

Below are some select first samples of the roll of Ilford HP5 Plus that served as my test film. I am actually very pleased with the results. Frankly, I really thought I would mess up the process at some point and the film would be spoiled. But no – it came out very nicely. I love the tonality and graduation. What I need to try and improve is the grain. It’s a bit rough. I think in some instances I may want a finer grain, so I need to experiment with diluted developer.

For those who are interested: I used Calbe A49 developer (stock, undiluted).

And last but not least a big thank you note to my local photo lab “Foto Labor Service Görner“. They assisted me not only with great advice but even let me have some used development equipment of their own. Incredible. If you live in the Dresden area and are even remotely interested in classic photography you need to check them out:


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