These latent images must be amplified and stabilized in order to make a color negative that can then be printed and viewed by reflected light. Before we cover the development of a color negative film, it might be best to step back and process a black-and-white negative. If you used black-and-white film in your camera, the same latent-image formation process would have occurred, except the silver-halide grains would have been sensitized to all wavelengths of visible light rather than to just red, green or blue light.
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So you've read all my articles on film and decided: "You know what? I'm going to give it a shot! However, one of the first questions you'll have to answer is: What film should I shoot with?
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Photographic film is a strip or sheet of transparent plastic film base coated on one side with a gelatin emulsion containing microscopically small light-sensitive silver halide crystals. The sizes and other characteristics of the crystals determine the sensitivity, contrast, and resolution of the film. The emulsion will gradually darken if left exposed to light, but the process is too slow and incomplete to be of any practical use.
Film photography is like that pesky T-Rex in Jurassic Park that keeps on coming back, refusing to die. No-one's going to argue that digital cameras reproduce scenes with more accuracy and detail than was ever possible before, so why is film even still here? Maybe it's because it has something that some photographers want. It's awkward, it's variable, it's difficult, but it has a kind of earthy physicality that makes otherwise sensible journalists resort to poetic similes like that one.
Manual film processing was once a common practice among photographers and hobbyists. Now, with the advent of digital camera technology, the process of manual developing has become a lost art. While the hobby is not as popular as it once was, the equipment and chemicals are still available, and are cheaper than ever.