A long time ago, I was featured on this blog with my film development methods. In the past 3 years I’ve not said much more about how I develop, until recently when I stumbled on this YouTuber that teaches a way to use traditional, cheap and, as I’ve discovered, extraordinarily durable C-41 chemistry on slide film to yield actual slides – film with genuine positive images on it.
I got a small amount of expired slide film on ebay very cheaply because I wanted to try slide development with the proper E-6 chemistry. While all film development is tremendously rewarding, there is something about seeing positive color images on your film reel that makes the experience very special. While it was a great experience, it was not a lasting one. Unlike my C-41 kit that has lasted a freakishly long time (now over a year), the shelf life of mixed E-6 chemistry is freakishly short. I got a few rolls off eBay and an E-6 kit that was officially rated to develop 4 rolls, thinking I could go well beyond what it was rated for, as you can with cheap C-41 kits. I was sadly mistaken. The first two rolls did fine. The third roll, only about 3 weeks after mixing, came out too dim to yield any usable image. I wasn’t going to risk it on any more film. I developed a few more just as a C-41 negative and that yielded very pleasant results, a technique we all know as “cross processing.”
I had one single roll of expired Fuji Provia 100 film remaining. I was curious to see, would this technique actually work? As you see, my technique for getting film out of the cassette is rather savage.
It works like this –
- Develop using a black and white developer of choice. In the case of the YouTuber that I was watching, he used Kodak HC-110 at a temperature of 105 degrees for 11 minutes. In my case, I was using Ilford’s developer chemistry.
- This is the weirdest part of it. After doing that, you take the film out of your tank and expose it all to light to totally fog it. The one thing that you NEVER want to do when you develop film is take it into light before it’s been fixed. In case you ever wondered what film looks like if you take it out in the middle of development, this is the emulsion side. Ignore my wife’s shampoo in the background.
After you can get the film back on your reel and back in your tank, then you want to treat it as you would any C-41 film.
After it was all finished, I pulled out the film and I did indeed have a roll of positive images, though they were a bit darker than you would expect from slides. It did yield salvageable images, however.
Unedited, most images looked like this. Note the grayish cast.
With good scanning and a little color curve GIMP voodoo (please don’t get me started on another Adobe product rant), a few usable images were salvaged, making the experiment at least a partial success.
If you decide to do this, follow the advice of Kelly-Shane on YouTube’s Go Everywhere channel more closely than I did. Also, use fresh chemistry and use Kodak HC-110, which should yield a better result.
Also, should you decide to develop slide film this way, beware that you will need to do the bleach/fix step for considerably longer than in standard C-41 processes. In my case I did it 15 minutes.
Does this count as cross processing? I say yes – you are processing a film in chemistry different than what it’s designed to be processed in. The result that is being worked toward is not relevant to the term.
Shoot photos, not each other!