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Home » A Behind-the-Scenes Look At 35mm Film Processing

A Behind-the-Scenes Look At 35mm Film Processing

If you’ve got your film from 35mm printed and processed by the nearby lab, do ever wondered about the process? In this article I’ll take you on a the inside of the entire procedure.

To start, get your favourite old camera out. It’s the one that you found at an op store or at a garage sale. It’s the one with Lomo on the back or Leica at the top?

Whatever way you choose, it’s there and you may consider putting it to good use. Take a film of your choice, and spend your morning or afternoon shooting your favorite subjects.

When you’ve finished your shooting, the satisfying sound of the film being rewinded is sure to please your ears. Smile and go into the local lab to have your amazing photos processed. In this moment, you’ll be smiling because you’ve taken pictures on the original camera’s sensor – film! ….and there is nothing that can beat the original, isn’t it?

Your film is gone. You are free to continue your journey while the team at the film lab move forward and turn your masterpiece into memories. The journey of your film’s favorite character is going to get underway.

The next section of this story will cover what happens after you have left. You will meet the lab technician.

The initial step a lab technician should take is to pull the end of the film from the canister exposed by with an instrument for picking film. It is sometimes one of the toughest actions as older cameras can twist the ends of the film back onto itself while rewinding.

The film is still sensitive to light therefore it’s not as if that the canister is able to be opened during daylight hours to solve this problem of bent film. A portable darkbox was designed to solve this exact issue.

If the technician isn’t able to pull the film’s end out using the film picker, or the special lab tape, then the film is placed into the dark box. The canister is opened with pressure to be manually rolled to create a 35mm temporary container.

After the end of the film has been removed, the film canister is put in a container that allows the final that the film is cut into squares.

After cutting the film is glued to a leader card with special tape that doesn’t peel off during the development process. You can observe in the following photo, the leader card composed of a flexible, transparent plastic.

Two films can be glued on the outside of the lead card. It is essential to tape sides of both the leader card as well as the film to make sure that the film doesn’t fall off during the process of 35mm film developing. The leader card is a tiny rectangular holes that are located in its middle. The holes are connected to sprockets that direct the leader card and film through the machine.

It’s crucial to ensure that the films of one customer aren’t mixed with those of another customer. To prevent this from happening, the unique serial number known as twin check is affixed to the order of the customer as well as the film it’s matched to. The numbers will be identified after the film has left the machine.

The film is now ready for Processing.

It is put in centrally and the machine shifts the leader card in the direction it is inserted.

The door of the machine will be in the open position. Once the leader card has been placed in line to the silver horizontal plate, the door can be closed and locked, that will ensure that the machine is light-tight.

One of the most frightening possible scenarios in the present time for every film studio is the possibility of a power blackout. I’ve experienced it countless times. In the event of a power blackout, the machine stops working and the film that is not developed gets stuck in the tank or bath.

I ought to have mentioned this at the beginning… This is vital that a well maintained photo lab runs control strips at the beginning of every day in case they have an active lab. This is extremely crucial. After the control strip is created, it is analyzed using the densitometer. The densitometer’s results can then be used to calibrate machines, to ensure that chemical and colour levels are accurate.

The film is now fully entered the machine. The film is going to undergo the process of being developed from raw to developed by a series in processing tanks (baths) that are located within this machine (the internals of the machine as follows).

The process is referred to as C-41 process. The processes that the film will traverse across the machines are detailed in the following paragraphs:

The first step is the developer The developer creates an image of silver in the film’s emulsion layer of the latent image that is created after exposure to the film. Then the developer – which is locally oxidized through this reaction – mixes with couplers that are incorporated into the emulsion to produce color dyes. The amount of dye created is proportional to the amount of silver images produced.

The second step is bleaching This bath transforms the metallic silver image created in the process of development back into silver halide to enable the fixer to eliminate all silver particles from the solution.

Method 3: Repairing This process dissolves both the bleached image as well as the undeveloped and exposed silver halide, which was initially present inside the film’s film emulsion that is later removed by washing.

The process 4 and 5 is washing A water wash , which is commonly utilized in larger processors is a process that removes all chemicals used in processing and their by-products from the film. The correct rate of wash water and temperature is crucial to long-term stability of the dye.

Process 6: Stabilizing – This is a process that includes wetting agents along with other chemical compounds that provide an even drying process of the film as well as long-term stability.

7. Drying Film is then heated to eliminate any moisture.

When the film is done running through the C-41 procedure and the technician has cut the film from the leader and is able to hang them on a stand that is commonly called a tree. The film is then hung at the right to be in the order.

Once the technician at the lab has put an unbalanced sample roll of photographic paper (called paper control strip) using the densitometer then printing and scanning the roll of film that has been developed can proceed.

After the film has been processed at a high resolution the negatives will appear as colour positives on a monitor (good photo labs employ an calibrated screen to make sure that the exposure and colour are accurate).

At this point that a skilled lab technician can adjust each photo using a specific keyboard. A variety of quantities of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow can be added to or subtracted from every photo to ensure that the colour is accurate. Also, adjustments can be made to the exposure of each photo. Printing negatives from negatives is a art, and that’s why it is essential to ensure that the technician who prints your images has been trained extensively in this field.

Now you are aware of the entire life cycle of the film roll from the moment it is shot until being printed. It takes some time to get used to for new workers and if processes aren’t properly followed, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. In my experience, I’ve been privy to a number of disasters involving certain labs losing film or negatives that were cut incorrectly or, perhaps, worse films being delivered to wrong person.