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Handmade Color Processing

How to process color film at home, in your bathroom.

After using an automatic photo processor (JOBO ATL 3) for about two years, I realized that I didn’t need it. Anyway, I didn’t have any choice since I left my JOBO in Québec when I moved to Halifax

All you need is a warm water-bath in which your chemistries and photo drum are maintained at a relatively constant temperature. The advantage of processing in your bathroom is that you have access to hot water from your shower hose and that you can throw your used chemistries in the toilet (except for the fixer which contains silver and that you must bring to a photo lab, or use a silver magnet, or use a silver recovery unit). By the way, always inform yourself about the toxicity of the products you’re using.

What you need:

1. A photo processing drum and film spools (I love JOBO spools)
2. Protective gloves to rotate the drum in the water bath
3. Un-powdered latex gloves to remove the stabilizer remaining on the film after the process
4. Protective goggles
5. A Funnel, used to pour sequentially the chemistry from each bottle into the drum
6. A Thermometer
7. A Chronometer
8. Two suction cups, a string and clothes-pins, to hang films for drying after the process
9. Bottles containing the chemistries*
10. Yogurt cups for the ‘stabilizer’ (C41) or the ‘final rinse’ (E6), outside of the drum
11. A watertight plastic container, used as water bath for the process (and to store all this mess after the process, away from the eyes of your girlfriend, boyfriend or roommate)

  • I use Fischer bottles for the next reasons: 1. They hold up to 700 mL which is perfect for my drum. 2. They’re glass bottles which means they’re heavy (won’t float) and keep the temperature more stable. 3. They can be closed to avoid spilling chemistry in the bath. 4. They initially contain a delicious beer.

How to proceed:

1. Prepare your chemistries (I use Kodak Chemistries). The concentration (ratio water to concentrate) is given for each chemistry by the manufacturer. Note that there are two different types of Kodak C-41 chemistries: the ‘Normal’ and the ‘RA’. RA stands for Rapid Access, these chemistries don’t need dilution with water and must be used for a shorter time.
2. Place the drum containing the films on their spool, the bottles containing the chemistries and the thermometer in the plastic container, in your bathtub. Pour hot water in the container (38-39°C) and wait about half an hour until your chemistries are warmed-up.

3. Use your shower hose every once in a while to add hot water if you feel that the temperature is decreasing. Between you and me, the precision and constancy of temperature are not as important as said. In fact, I got to the conclusion that if I feel that the water is at a temperature for a nice bath for myself (I like them a bit hot) everything is good, and I don’t use the thermometer anymore… And overheating produces nice color saturations (but burnt skies, as we’ll see later). During the warm-up you can prepare your yogurt cups for the final rinse.

4. Light a candle, prepare your chronometer and start the process. The first chemistries are supposed to be poured in the dark, but with just a candle it’s fine, your drum is supposed to be light-proof anyway.
5. Pour the first chemistry, rotate the drum in the water bath as long as needed, then empty your drum in the toilet (or in a container if you want to re-use them) and go to the next chemistry. Follow these durations for Kodak chemistries:

6. After the process, put your films in the final rinse for a minute, and hang them to dry for 1-2 hours.

7. Cut, scan and upload.

Here are some results from E6 processes:

Here are some results from Cross-processes (C-41):

Here’s a tipster within the tipster: the super-supersampler:

Here are some underwater shots from Alonissos using a canon F-1N or a Holga in a ewa-marine housing:

Here are some over-heated processes (around 40°C):

And here’s a (chronological) list of fantastic chemically-related posts with useful information:

1. Lith Printing by lovely_lena
2. Processing with coffee by lomosexual_manboy
3. Film risotto by mandi
4. film cocktail overdose by mandi
5. E6 Processing by stouf
6. Reversed X-pro by eggzakly
7. Rodinal processing by rater
8. Reversed X-pro by rater
9. B&W slides by stouf
10. C-41 processing by lomosexual_manboy
11. Reversed X-pro by eggzakly
12. Abnormal reversed X-pro by stouf
13. E6 processing with expired chemistries by stouf

written by stouf

79 comments

  1. cinzinc

    cinzinc

    Great tipster! Well written, awesome gallery! Cheers!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. zulupt

    zulupt

    Great tip!!!!! Awesome job!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. pulex

    pulex

    thanks a lot for this!!! i guess ill start developing c-41 pretty soon!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. superlighter

    superlighter

    legendary!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Excellent!!! Should be Tipster of the Week!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. panelomo

    panelomo

    darn - wait, i have to read it again from the top...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. copefan

    copefan

    A very cool tipster and I agree with Herbert! I'll have to try it instead of lugging all my stuff out of the garage!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. stouf

    stouf

    Yeah ! Thanks a lot everyone for the likes and comments ! I'm really proud of this post, and it's really EASY ! I am now in a state where I shoot for the pleasure to process... Weird... Anyway, thank again, and thanks to scapegoat/Jason !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. vgzalez

    vgzalez

    Great, great, great!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. gnarlyleech

    gnarlyleech

    Very cool. I have been wanting to try this and you included several other post about processing. genius!!!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. sushi_9009

    sushi_9009

    Stunning and compliment for this work :))

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. reneg88

    reneg88

    of course it had to be stouf the processing mastermind! hehe hopefully someday i'll have the materials and patience to try this out! =D amazing results!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. mikahsupageek

    mikahsupageek

    As usual Stouf ! GREAT WORK !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. ruthmut

    ruthmut

    Really great work! Best tipster i´ve ever read!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. vicuna

    vicuna

    That's an awesome tipster with a lot of usefull infos!! Thanks Stouf for sharing this!! :))

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. bccbarbosa

    bccbarbosa

    Oooohhh!!! Excellent!! This should be tipster of the year!!! I'll definetely be eternally grateful to you. Thanx a lot!!! =D

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. wil6ka

    wil6ka

    genius ;)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. breakphreak

    breakphreak

    stouf does magic!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. stouf

    stouf

    Rhhooo ! You're being so nice : ) !!! Thanks everyone ! You should try it, the X-pro is especially easy...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. adi_totp

    adi_totp

    wooooooooowww broo! SALUTE!! SALUTE!! :))))))

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  21. chuo104

    chuo104

    Nice one, Stouf!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  22. cyan-shine

    cyan-shine

    You are the MASTER ! :D

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  23. milkie

    milkie

    Great! Just what I needed !!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  24. stouf

    stouf

    Thanks thanks thanks !!! @cyan-shine: you are all masters to me : ) !!! Lomolove...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  25. lomodirk

    lomodirk

    Thanks mate, think for a while about the possibility of developing C41 at home, now I´ll do it, just need the stuff :)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  26. isammi

    isammi

    Very interesting,congratulations!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  27. ululchen

    ululchen

    shouldn't one cross-process slide films around 30°C? anyway, that's what i always do and i get great results with it, but you're right, the temperature doesn't seem to be very important as long as it isn't completely off target.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  28. coca

    coca

    this is great Stouf, as always. i made the E6 process in photography class a few days ago, is a great feeling see that the pictures turn out ok after the whole process :)) Congrats master!!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  29. stouf

    stouf

    Thaaaaanks for more love ! You are all making me so happy... @coca: it is indeed a wonderful feeling, hard to beat... @ululchen: Mmmm VERY interesting, I'll certainly try that ! Some 'cold' processing... But are your durations longer than those I indicate ?

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  30. eatcpcks

    eatcpcks

    thank you a lot stouf! Hope i can try this in a fexw times:)

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  31. nural

    nural

    wow this is so detailed!!! Maybe I'll but the chemicals next time I go to the lab and then don't go to the lab for some time, that would be nice :)))

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  32. stouf

    stouf

    So LSI, when will we see chemistries in the shop ? 8D

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  33. randorex

    randorex

    This article just made my year! can't wait to try this...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  34. bigphilly808

    bigphilly808

    Ohhh man!! Is it bad that this article gave me a lomohardon?! Bahahaha! You da man!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  35. stouf

    stouf

    Ahaha ! Glad you're feeling ... Inspired ! 8D

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  36. ululchen

    ululchen

    @stouf: i use the same times as those indicated on the chemicals for negative films, just at 30°C instead of 38°C

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  37. stouf

    stouf

    @ululchen: Really ? How surprising... I'll try it for sure. So I'll be maybe sweating a bit less during processes... 8DDD Thanks for the tip !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  38. takezzo

    takezzo

    well written, stouf. i give you a personal tipster of the week award badge.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  39. mojo_lomo

    mojo_lomo

    amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  40. kylewis

    kylewis

    This is brilliant and you might have just tipped me over to the darkside of doing my own colour ; )) (which I have been to lazy to bother with) defo for Tipster!!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  41. stouf

    stouf

    So much nice feedback from such nice people makes my head spin ! : )

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  42. kdstevens

    kdstevens

    Very well done! The Super Supersampler shots are great!!. Thanks to you I have been processing my own film for about a year. I even tried Caffinol a few weeks back. BTW when Kodak's instruction said to do the first few steps "In the dark" they meant if you were doing tray or open tank processing. But I like the candle idea--it makes it more of a ritual. After all, it is magic. And the Fischer beer bottle idea is just right on. Ken.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  43. emvar

    emvar

    Brilliant! Thanks a million dude! Great article, very useful info and great shots :). Never processed any film by myself yet but hardly waiting to take the control and play with this stuff..

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  44. bananez

    bananez

    Great job! Thanks
    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  45. stouf

    stouf

    Thanks again ! @kdstevens: I feel so proud now my friend ! Thank you so much ! Ahaahaa yes I know the tank is supposed to be light-proof, however in some cases you have to be careful, like with panchromatic films...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  46. sang_nila_utama

    sang_nila_utama

    awesome...

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  47. wilfbiffherb

    wilfbiffherb

    im looking for a jobo so i can do this!!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  48. kylethefrench

    kylethefrench

    this is amazing, I wish I had access to those chemicals and the time to try this

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  49. lonur

    lonur

    awesome! thanks; very useful tipster; now i need to actually get myself to do it..

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  50. smoothlyblasted

    smoothlyblasted

    a very nice helpfull reading.
    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  51. falsedigital

    falsedigital

    Really great article! BTW, I think your work looks absolutely great E6 Processed. Good scanning too.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  52. stouf

    stouf

    Thanks for all the nice feedback everyone !

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  53. lageos

    lageos

    Great Tipster!
    And cool Fotos!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  54. zenline

    zenline

    Tu m'impressionnes Stouf ! Sérieux :)))

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  55. azurblue

    azurblue

    stouf, you're the best !

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  56. beni

    beni

    Ole

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  57. spoeker

    spoeker

    wow I totally missed this, thanks to the most popular selection for october to guide me the right way :)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  58. disdis

    disdis

    wow! How hadn't I seen this before? May I recommend your lab? You would have lots of lomographers sending you rolls!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  59. stouf

    stouf

    Thank you so much lomofriends... You're too good to me ! @azurblue: Coming from you this is an insane compliment ! : ) @disdis: Ahaha, I barely have time to process my own stuff...

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  60. mylatehope

    mylatehope

    WOW, you are amazing!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  61. keeklo

    keeklo

    Ok, I've been lurking for a while now and it's time for me to jump in :-) I have never developed film but I'm a pretty handy person. My wife has done some B&W back when she was in college which was a while ago. We barely shoot any B&W and really want to try developing our films ourselves. Is it really stupid or unsafe for us to start directly with color? I was thinking of using a Tetenal C41 Press Kit (sold for $19.99)...

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  62. stouf

    stouf

    @keeklo Well, that's the surprising part, in my opinion B&W processing is trickier than color processing. So go for it ! And sometimes, mistakes give nice results too...

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  63. -adrien-

    -adrien-

    SO COOL!!! i was looking for it!! Thank's a lot!
    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  64. roberdown

    roberdown

    I HAVE NO WORDS!!!GREAT!!AMAZING WORK!!!CONGRATULATIONS, DUDE!!!! :OOOOOO!!!!!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  65. lightblue

    lightblue

    THANK YOU FOR THE TIP! Congrats!!! it's an great article!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  66. fabba

    fabba

    I will think seriously about!! Txs and besos

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  67. slumbrnghok

    slumbrnghok

    Brilliant!

    about 3 years ago · report as spam
  68. stouf

    stouf

    UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE: I now bring all my used chemicals to a photolab. they deal with it, and I feel less guilty. : ) ... Thanks a lot everyone for your super comments !

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  69. olgats

    olgats

    thank's , looks easy enough to do it ! fingers crossed :-)
    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  70. paytenpurdy

    paytenpurdy

    thank you sooooo much for this! best tipster yet! mahalo-P.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  71. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    I love that tipster-inside-a-tipster :-P

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  72. marcruinspants

    marcruinspants

    Is there a tipster for going from here and transferring the exposures to a larger photo surface?
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  73. stouf

    stouf

    @marcruinspants I am guessing you're talking about printing? This involves an enlarger, chemicals and photosensitive paper... Another whole story that I promised myself to figure out during retirement... : )

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  74. marcruinspants

    marcruinspants

    @stouf YES! Printing! Sorry, still new round here, don't know exact terminology. But yes, printing, That's my main focus (when it comes to out of pocket expenses) because I would really like to show my work in galleries after I get good enough, and I figure fairly large pieces is where a great deal of my money would go if I went to someone else to do it. The less money it costs me, the better.
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  75. stouf

    stouf

    @marcruinspants I think the cheapest way would actually be to process and scan your negatives. Printing jpegs is cheaper than the proper photographic printing...

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  76. nock

    nock

    This tipster? Jedi level!

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  77. wwllaaddaa

    wwllaaddaa

    AWESOME :)

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  78. aguillem

    aguillem

    I finally did it myself! I developped 4 films so far, and everything went fine :) (except when I opened the tank, but that's because I'm stupid...)
    Here are the 2 rolls I uploaded already:
    http://www.lomograph(…)development
    http://www.lomograph(…)ady-in-love

    12 months ago · report as spam
  79. stouf

    stouf

    @aguillem And you did it wonderfully! : )

    12 months ago · report as spam

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