Text and images by Christoph Hammann for Japan Exposures
When I took up a new project this fall, I decided to try my hand at developing color negative film. This is supposed to be difficult and prone to developing errors. In fact, though I had bought some Fuji Pro800 rollfilm and a Naniwa Colorkit N C-41 developing kit earlier, I held them back for just such fears. Then when the fall color got very intense this year, I couldn‘t go on photographing in black & white. The first two rolls of 120 film I dropped off at my local photo shop, getting a digi-evangelization in the process. They came back developed rather grainy and the test prints were off-color. Having them developed wasn‘t cheap either!
This I can do better, I thought.
Turns out I was right! Here‘s the material I used:
The temperature was kept constant at 30 °C with a Jobo Temperbox TBE2, essentially a heated water bath with a thermostat and receptables for bottles, graduated beakers and the developing drum. I collected some exposed rolls of Fuji Pro800 and proceeded to mix the solutions.
The Naniwa Colorkit N comes with concise, clear instructions in English in addition to Japanese, for which I was grateful…
The developer takes on an appealing pink color once mixed. The blix (short for bleach/fixer) on the other hand is of an ugly brownish cast and smells bad.
Ready to start developing. Times for all C41 process films seem to be the same regardless of ISO, as long as you expose them at their native ISO. So this is how those automatic minilabs work! The kit comes with tables for dev times for push development plus one or two stops, too.
Pouring back the developer and getting ready to blix it.
Watering at about 30 °C and for a defined time, this washes out some of the orange mask. My first two self-developed rolls of color negative film hanging to dry!
This works for sheet film, too. I used Fujifilm 160 NS 8×10 in film, the developing drum this time was an old Durst Codrum originally meant for the Cibachrome process.
Getting it out of the drum without scratching the delicate, wet emulsion is best done with the drum filled with water to the top.
To end with, here are some results.
The shot at the top is the 8″x10″ nighttime shot, I was delighted that the film could render the different colors of lighting and had such a high latitude and subtle graduation of tones. Exposure time was 8 minutes at f/45.
This picture is from the fall colors project called „diffugium“. The Fuji Pro800 rollfilm proved to be quite fine-grained, the negatives were easy to scan and the pictures were versatile in post-processing in Photoshop.
For example, as this picture from the same roll of film (but from a different project) shows, it is easy to increase saturation and still keep good colors.
I will definitely be using these films and the Naniwa Colorkit N for current and future color projects.
Coming soon: Christoph will use the Naniwa Color Kit N to cross-process some slide film.
Christoph Hammann is a fine art photographer from Waltershausen, Germany. He works with traditional film and silver halide papers as well as digital post-processing and alternative printing techniques. His website is “Mostly Black & White”.