Developing Adventures · film photography · Film Processing

Developing Adventures – My First Time Processing Color Film

This past Christmas I received the Cinestill C41 color film processing 2 bath powder kit from Kelsey’s grandmother. It came with 3 pouches of powder chemistry, 2 accordion bottles, a tank, and two reels, two 1000ml jugs, and the TCS-1000 water heater; everything I needed to get started finally developing color film myself.

I normally really like the results I have gotten from Old School Photo Lab, but the amount of film I needed developed every month was starting to get too expensive. Especially since I need the film quickly for these articles and my YouTube videos, I needed an alternate solution. I think I will still send out most of my color film, but at least now I can process rolls that I need right away.

This isn’t going to be a formal review of this kit, not yet, because I want to spend some more time with it before I give a full review. I just wanted to share my initial thoughts with you as well as my very first two rolls of color film developed by me.

I watched many tutorials about processing with this kit, but I found it hard to specifically find ones with this powder version. The instructions that came with the kit said a Stabilizer isn’t necessary with modern film, however I found that everyone was using one in the final step during their tutorials. So that had me questioning if I had everything I needed. It also says you can use Photo Flo at the end if you want. Having a lot of things unanswered had me a bit overwhelmed and uneasy for my first go-round.

I decided to follow the directions and used only what the kit came with. That meant no stabilizer at the end. I did however soak the film in photo Flo the same way I do black and white film to prevent streaks.

I was so excited to see that both rolls I developed together, a roll of Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Portra 400, had developed properly. That was until I scanned all of the frames and realized that there were strange brown dots on all of the negatives and photos in the light areas. You can see them in the clouds below.

Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400

I took to Instagram to ask what people thought the cause could be, and I got quite a few responses. The main consensus was with the Photo Flo that I used in the final step. It was the last bit in the bottle and I quickly poured it into the tank after the final rinse. I am not sure if it was expired or if I put too much in, but it seems this may have been the problem. Another suggestion was that air bubbles may have caused the developer to not reach the film in those spots.

I developed another roll today, this time with a brand new bottle of Photo Flo and also making sure to tap the tank after every agitation cycle during the developer stage. There were no brown dots this time.

The following photos are from those first two rolls. You can see the spots in many of them. Let me know in the comments what you think the problem may have been.

 Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400

These photos were taken handheld at night, and I am very surprised they came out because it was so dark out. I really like these photos.

Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Leica M2 Kodak Portra 400
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200

You can see the dark spots on the building below. They only seemed to show up in lighter areas of the film, or the thinnest parts of the negatives.

Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200
Canon New F1 Kodak Gold 200

Final Thoughts

I was so excited to see these pictures, despite the spots. I really like how they came out. The kit wasn’t too difficult to use. The heater was very user friendly and I was happy to see it even has a timer on its interface so I didn’t have to use my phone. Like I said above, I will eventually give a proper review of the kit when I am more familiar with it. I probably will add the stabilizer as someone suggested just to have an extra layer of protection for my film.

If you would like to help me out with the cost of film, developing chemicals, and the upkeep of this website, please consider making a small donation by clicking the yellow button. It is appreciated more than you know. If you would rather purchase one of my zines, that would also help.

Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

Riding in Cars with Color Film

By Alyssa Chiarello in Riding In Cars with Film

52 pages, published 11/19/2020

I have been taking photos on the way to and from doctors appointments for a year now, and it has been a tremendous help to my anxiety. These photos are a compilation of my favorite ones taken on 35mm color film from the passenger side of a moving car. Doing this has helped me to get to know my home town better, and has also helped me to quickly hone my skills of exposure. I decided to create this series as a way to encourage others with…

2 thoughts on “Developing Adventures – My First Time Processing Color Film

  1. I’m going to agree that your dark spots are likely from air bubbles. Other than that, it looks like you got some great results from the Cinestill kit.

    I recall our back-and-forth on Instagram (I recently closed my IG account and moved to Flickr) a while back where you asked me about this kit, so I’m glad to see you finally jumped into doing it. Your compositions are great.

    I’m surprised that Cinestill left the stabilizer out of the powder kit since they include it in the liquid kit. the Ultrafine C41 powder developing kit does include the stabilizer. You’ll want the stabilizer for anything you want to archive, so I definitely recommend it.

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