For my first attempt at developing my 35mm color film at home I shot a roll of “unimportant” images around the house. I didn’t have a lot of faith in my ability to develop film-this was my first try-so I wanted to try to minimize the disappointment of losing some really important images. I seem to form an attachment to all my photos but at least these were not a part of some big, important project.
These images were taken with my Nikon F100 and developed at home using Unicolor chemistry. I scanned the negatives with my DSLR setup in my dark basement, imported the images of the negatives into Lightroom and converted the negatives to positives manually. Once I got the main conversion to positive edits made I created a preset and applied that to each photo then worked on any more detailed editing that was required after the conversion to positive. So many steps and such a fulfilling process with the reward of seeing the image in the end.
I have to be honest: developing my film at home for the first time all on my own was a very scary, overwhelming, anxiety inducing process for me. And I really wanted to see the images I captured on my roll of film. I was scared I would mess something up and my roll of film would be ruined so I felt a lot of pressure. This whole process was so unknown and unfamiliar to me. It felt like it took so much time and energy for me just to get the chemicals mixed. Later I managed to start the process of developing my first roll of film. Even thought I had watched several YouTube videos showing the film developing steps I still had no idea what I was doing. Pushing myself through the process was difficult. I tried to do the best job possible while not really knowing what I was doing. I figured the best way to learn was to do this, to give it a try. If I never attempted to develop my own film because I was so fearful I would mess something up I would never be able to learn how to develop my film. So I went through the fear and anxiety, trying to keep in mind that this was the best way to learn-by doing. If I messed up the film it would not be the end of the world, it would be ok, and I could always try again another time. I just wanted to do a great job the first time and needed to remember that I spent many years learning and practicing digital photography to be able to have the abilities I have now with digital photography and this was the same idea-it will take practice over time to become familiar and have good results.
At the end of the process when I opened the developing tank and glanced at the negatives once I pulled the roll from the reel it was so exciting, healing and refreshing to see that there were images on the negatives! I was so thankful that I conquered my fear and managed to make it through this new, unfamiliar, fearful process. The hard work and perseverance were worth it. And it helped me to gain a tiny bit of confidence that maybe I could learn to develop my own film as well as continue to grow as a person by working through the many struggles I face. It was a very therapeutic and healing process for me.
Here are several of the images from this roll of Fuji Superia x-tra 400 that I developed October 2020. I know they’re not the best of images and they’re still very meaningful to me.
Have you had a similar experience-whether photography oriented or not-where you persevered and saw growth and victory? I’d love to hear about it. You can leave a comment or send me a message here.