How To Develop Black & White Film

Step 1 – Film Loading

Remove cap from film cannisterRemove cap from film cannisterSo imagine you are in your dark room (mine is the laundry room), the lights are out, I’ve got carpet covering any light leaks I can see and it’s totally dark. It needs to be for this step. I usually set up all of my equipment in the light then make it dark. image-02-thumbFilm cannister top removedOk, so first thing is to get at the film. 35mm canisters are easy to open with a can opener as shown in this figure. Just pop the top and push the spindle with the film out. (A roll of 120 film is a bit different and that’s the last I’m going to say about that).

So, now you’ve got the top off like this.

With the scissors (in the dark!) trim the film leader square. This will help with loading it on the reel.

image-03-thumbCut film leader squareTake the end you just trimmed and slip it into the reel at the feed point on the reel. You need to look at your reel in the daylight and get familiar with this feed point. It’s really easy but it does take some practice in the dark. Ease film end into reelEase film end into reelYou want to handle the film gently during all of this process and only by the edges as much as you can. Note: this process is different with a stainless steel reel and that’s the last I’ll say about that here too.

Now just twist each side of the reel in a right left sequence and the film should advance on to the reel. You want to be careful not to bend the film or force it on too. If it doesn’t advance smoothly something’s wrong and you should take if off carefully and start all over. Remember this is still all in the dark, right?

Twist reel ends back and forth to load filmTwist reel ends back and forth to load filmWhen you get to the end of the roll loading on the reel,Film fully loaded onto reelFilm fully loaded onto reel you will need to use the scissors to cut the film from the spindle and finish loading the film on the reel. Ok you are almost done.

Put the reel on the black center tube that comes with the tank, put the reel into the tank with the fatter end of the center tube down, seal the tank with the cover.


Put reel on black center tube...Put reel on black center tube (reeled-up film is missing from this picture and the next)...   ...then drop reel in tank and seal it up with the cover...then drop reel in tank and seal it up with the cover