Here’s how to make your own paper developer from scratch

Tips & Techniques

The George Eastman Museum has already shared some darkroom magic with us. For example, they taught us how to make a 35mm daguerreotype and guided us through the salt printing process. In this video, historic process specialist Nick Brandreth teaches you how to make your own paper developer from scratch in the comfort of your home.

To make your D-72 developer, you’ll need five powdered chemicals and some water. Here’s the list:

  • Water
  • Reducing agents: Hydroquinone and Metol
  • Preservative: Sodium sulfite
  • Accelerator: Sodium carbonate
  • Restrainer: Potassium bromide

As for the process, it’s pretty straightforward, you just need to be precise with the quantities,  the water temperature, and the order of adding ingredients.

For 1 liter of the developer, you’ll need to start with 750ml of water at 125° F (52° C). Measure the powders and add them to the water following this order:

  • 3g Metol
  • 45g Sodium sulfite
  • 12g Hydroquinone
  • 80g Sodium carbonate
  • 2g Potassium bromide

Add the dry ingredients one by one, making sure that each one is fully dissolved before adding the next. Keep in mind that some chemicals take longer to dissolve. So, Nick suggests that you keep your mixing container in a hot water bath on a hot plate to keep the water temperature.

Once all the ingredients have combined, pour your mixture into a bottle and top it off with 250ml of water. Put the label on and there you have it – your own D-72 developer

I’ve always found film photography and development fascinating. I still don’t have the courage to try it myself, even though it can be almost as easy as opening a can of beer. Yes, you can develop film with beer, with peppermint or green tea, or some other stuff you have in the kitchen. You can even make your own “developer stock cubes.” So, if you feel like experimenting, pick your approach and have fun.

[Make Your Own Paper Developer via DPReview]

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