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Film developing

A piece of photographic film that has been exposed to light in a controlled manner must be developed before it can be used. Development does three things: it transform the latent image into a visible image that can be seen, it makes the visible image permanent and resistant to deterioration with time, and it renders the film insensitive to light. Photographic paper is developed in a similar manner, except it is not loaded into a reel or tank.

(This article does not discuss Polaroid film, which develops itself.)

The steps to Black and White negative film developing are as follows:

  • First, the film is removed from the camera and wound onto a reel. The reel holds the film in a spiral shape, with space between each successive loop. The reel is placed in a specially designed light-proof tank.
  • The film is then treated with a series of chemicals :
    • The first of these is developer[?], which makes the image visible.
    • The second chemical is a stop bath[?], which stops the action of developer. (Sometimes plain water is used for this step.) It also helps to clean the developer residue off of the film to prevent contaminating the fixer. After the stop bath, the film is virtually insensitive to light.
    • The third chemical is called fixer[?]. It makes the image permanent and light-resistant.
    • Fixer itself is slightly corrosive, so the film must be washed. It is then treated with a solution to prevent the appearance of hard-water stains, dried, and cut into strips of a convenient length.

The film is now ready to be used in photographic printing[?].

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