Colour Processing – Where I Went Wrong!

Short of a year ago I got a Tetenal C-41 kit anticipating colour processing at home with fabulous results. Since then I have developed a dozen or so films, mostly Ektar 100 and Portra 400 – 645, 6×6 and 6×9 – all type 120 film.
But the “fabulous results”… ahem. Since the first roll the colours have been “off”, to say the least. First and foremost there was a strong cast of magenta with other colours being a bit everywhere. They were tricky to scan and needed considerable tweaking to be presentable.
The Tetenal kit uses three solutions: Develeoper, Blix (combined Bleach and Fix) and Stabilizer. During the time I have experimented with the times of all of them in, say 15 second increments. I imagined one or another would wear off after some use, but none has, the cast and feel of the colours are the same, no matter what I do. There also appear to be a visible graininess or coarseness in the negatives that I have not found on machine developed negatives.

Surely, I have been doing something wrong. But what? After all these small adjustments of the process with developer time et cetera, something else must be the problem. Temperature comes to mind, is it correct? Perhaps, but with two different thermometers I am pretty confident it has not been off by more than a degree (Celsius) or so.
My last straw here is that my tap water is the culprit. The well in the garden has some calcium in the water. Can calciferous water have such a tremendous effect?
Here are two two examples of the outcome.



The coarseness as seen in the above shot present a certain personal touch I have grown sort of fond of, but I would like to have the colours come out better. Clearly the colour balance has gone hay-wire somehow.

After a while I considered the chemicals as exhausted and ordered a new Tetenal C-41 kit. This time the chemicals were mixed with with distilled water (to avoid my own slightly calciferous water). A new thermometer was used when setting the 38 centigrades needed for the developer. I found that one of the old thermometers was 1.2 centigrade too low, the other had some of its blue ink stuck at the top, so that one also showed a bit too low. With the new thermometer the pictures came out much better, the magenta colour tint disappeared and the coarseness disappeared. I bet my water from the garden well was a major source (pardon the pun!) of trouble here.

The winter weather here now make all pictures dull and more or less B&W, but here goes two from the last roll.



Much better results, more easily scanned negatives and believable colours at last. Using the white balance slider in post-processing is quite feasible, while before the colours just wouldn’t “follow” the slider. It finally works!

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One Response to Colour Processing – Where I Went Wrong!

  1. cloudyimages says:

    Ive had the very same with Tetenal / Ektar. When the chemicals are fresh the are magnificent but they die off very quickly – giving odd colour shifts.
    As much as i would love to shoot more colour, the kits just do not have a long enough shelf life to justify buying them.

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