Black & White Processing

By Henry James

Rev. April 2022


  • Black & White Chemicals (Developer, Stop, Fixer, WashAid/PhotoFlo)
  • Developing tank with inner section, lid, and cover.
  • Spool (one per roll of film).
  • Film-puller (to pull a small amount of film from the can) or bottle opener.
  • Scissors.
  • Roll of exposed film.
  • Light safe changing bag (optional)

Setting Up

Before you start processing, you will want to prep your workstation because you will be working in the dark for the first part.


Organize your tank and its parts at your workstation and prepare to turn off the lights. If you are working in a light safe changing bag, put all your materials inside and close it.


When you’re ready, turn off the lights. This must happen in the ABSOLUTE darkness, not even the safe lights can be on.

Preparing the tank

Use the film puller to produce a small length of film. Pull out a further 4-5 inches: this film will not be damaged as it was already exposed when loading the camera.


Begin passing the film onto the spool, so that it gets taken up when the spool sides are rotated. It is easiest to have the opening of the spool winding facing you, with the film canister hanging down; you can wind the film onto the spool holding your thumbs on the wider part of the spool rim at the opening. Once the first 4-5 inches of film is loading correctly, set down the spool.


Place all of the items listed above within easy reach on the bench. Turn out the lights (if you haven’t already) in both the corridor and the darkroom.


Pick up the reel and make sure you can feel both notches on the outer edge are aligned. You then need to slide the end of the film under the two notches until you feel something catch the sprocket holes. If the film has gone in straight, you will be able to turn both sides of the reel in an alternate back and forth motion, moving the film along as you go. It is recommended to get a hold of some exposed film to try this out for the first time. You’ll get the hang of it and be loading the reels without thinking soon, but it can be tricky the first time.


Once the entire roll of film is on the spool, cut the canister from the end of the film using the scissors. Place the spool onto the inner section of the tank, place inside the tank, and attach the tank lid. Twist the lid until it clicks. It is now safe to turn on the lights.

Preparing the chemicals

Measure approx. 300ml of film developer and film fix for each roll you are processing into separate graduated cylinders. Ensure they are both at 20°C using the thermometers provided and by placing the cylinders in a bath of hot or cold water as necessary. Check how many times the solutions have been used: more than 5 rolls and you may need to dilute some more solutions. Pour exhausted solution into the larger containers for disposal.


Consult the film processing chart on the wall to find the correct developing time for the film you are processing. If you’re using the standard film developer we supply (Kodak HC-110), the times (in minutes) are provided. However, it is still worth checking the bottle in case the times have changed or we are using a different developer.  You might need to consult the bottle containing the mixed fixer to determine the dilution . If you have multiple films requiring different times, use a separate tank for each or else process them one after the other.


The developer we supply is Kodak HC-110 and we recommend using “dilution B”. This dilution is used as a one-shot meaning you can dispose of the chemical after using it once.


Consult the tables below to find the mixing measurements and development time for HC-110 dilution B. 

You can also consult Ilford’s processing time chart. 

For films and developers not listed here, use the Massive Dev Chart.

For other dilutions of Kodak HC-110, see the technical data sheet


Pour the developer into the tank and affix the cover. Agitate the tank continuously for one minute and then for 10 seconds each minute thereafter. When the development time is up, pour the developer solution back into the graduated cylinder.


Quickly pour in 300ml of stop bath. Affix the cover and agitate for 15 seconds. Pour the stop bath out and back into its container. (Alternately instead of stop, quickly fill, empty, and refill the tank with cold water several times, for about a minute or two. Not recommended).


Pour the fixer into the tank and leave for at least five minutes, agitating as for the developer. Pour the fix solution back into the cylinder.

Replace the developer and fix solutions in their containers. Mark off on the label how many rolls of film you processed. If the solutions are now exhausted and need to be remade, contact the committee, or dilute some solutions yourself at the end of the session.


Rinse the film continuously under cold water for 5 minutes, leaving the tap running moderately. The film is now light safe, and it is ok to open the tank to continue the wash.


(Optional, but highly suggested) Fill a separate container with Kodak PhotoFlo. Carefully take the film off the spool and place in the PhotoFlo (the spool can be separated in two by twisting it an extra bit). This will help wash out the chemicals and prevent anything that is in the Trinity tap water from drying on the film. Gently wash it for 30 seconds to a minute.


Get a hanging clip and attach it to one end of your negative strip. Take the spool out of the solution and let the excess drip in the sink.


Set the negative dryer to 30°C and hang the film up — long rolls may need to be cut in two — for approximately 20 minutes. Do not take the film out if the film is in any way sticky. Alternately, leave in the dryer without turning it on overnight. 


When the film is completely dry remove from the dryer and cut the film into strips of six frames. Place into A4 negative holder sheets.


Clean up and put things back where you found them. Wash all used materials.