One of the wonderful things about film is that it is incredibly unpredictable. It won’t always turn out the way you expected it to.
During my years studying photography, I discovered the wonders of developing film and how different household products could affect the film and create different patterns and colours. However, now I work in User Research, it has been years since I last touched a camera. I wanted to go back and rediscover what I loved about film photography, and a recent weekend in Budapest seemed like the perfect excuse.
To develop your own film you don’t need a darkroom, and you don’t need crazy expensive equipment either. I always thought that developing film at home was an expensive and complicated process - but this really isn’t the case! Developing your own film is not only very easy to do, but it’s also really rewarding when you see your strip of film come out of the tank full of images.
To get back to the basics of shooting and developing film, I decided to head off to Budapest with a camera that is easy to use and film that I knew well from using it in the past. The La Sardina is a toy camera (which basically means inexpensive and plastic) that looks like a sardine can - how cute! All you need to do is snap a photo with the shutter button and wind the film on. As for the film, I needed something that I didn’t need to think about too much. The Ilford HP5 Plus was perfect for this as it usually produces quality negatives under all lighting conditions.
I spent the weekend happily capturing the atmosphere and culture of Budapest with my little sardine can. Back at home and armed will all the equipment and chemicals, I was excited to develop my rolls of film and see what I’d captured!
...and then I panicked.
After looking up how to develop film, everything was fine until I checked out all of the numbers about timings and milliliters. My brain just could not figure it out and I really didn’t want to ruin the photographs that I had taken.
With the help of Dan and Daryl and the lovely people of Leicester Lo-Fi, I was able to develop my rolls of film, and even printed a contact sheet of the photographs. They were super helpful and answered all my pedantic questions about how stuff works and why.
Not all of the photographs turned out as well as expected, but the experience of being part of a community of like minded people and rediscovering what I loved about photography has been amazing. It’s definitely given me the confidence to keep learning about film and developing my techniques.