C-41 - Where am I going wrong?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ChrisC, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Hey guys.

    This last week after waiting for a long time to get my hands on some chems, I finally started the journey into developing my own C-41 with a Tetenal Liquid kit. Long story short, I've encountered a hurdle I can't seem to overcome.

    Basically I seem to be getting this really odd yellow cast in my images. I've developed 3 rolls so far, and all are the same thing. It's all been cheap supermarket Superia 400, and at first I thought it could have been some of my sloppy B&W techniques carrying over with my first roll, but the more precise I get my temps and times, the more of the same results I get. By the 3rd roll my times were absolutely second perfect, and temps well within 1C. Initially I blixed for the recommended times, but by the 3rd roll I'd gone from 4mins to 6mins and still got more of the same. These 2 sample shots are from the 2nd and 3rd rolls. Top image was clear sunny day, bottom was bright overcast.

    Do these issues ring bells to anyone here? I'm really at a loss for where to go now, and a little dejected by the whole process at the moment.

    Thanks for any thoughts on this.
     

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  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I assume that these were scans of the negative, right?

    If so, then the negatives are overly blue in color to give a yellow cast to the scan. This is quite unusual in my experience, as it indicates overdevelopment of the cyan and magenta layers, or underdevelopment of the yellow layer. This is a bit hard to do. Usually things go the other way.

    In any event, it could also be a bleach problem or a fix problem, but that is very unlikely.

    Sorry I don't have a better guess. You sure you didn't leave a filter on the lens? :wink:

    PE
     
  3. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Hah, I really wish it was just a filter being on.

    Yeah, these are scans of the negatives. All the reading I've done on trying to resolve this pretty much, as you say, mentions the opposite rather than what's going on here. I had thought of it being a bleach or fix problem too, but after the longer time in the blix third time around and the results being pretty much exactly the same, I was inclined to rule that out. And I was hoping with all your experience you'd have the easy (non-filter) answer too. Do you think it could be a film issue? I'd debated buying some Portra today to try out to see if I got the same issues.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

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    Well, I was thinking this over, and it occurs to me that the temperature might be off. Do you have another thermometer? If so, check for high temp. Or, check for proper mixing of the developer. High temp or too concentrated of a developer might just do this. IDK for sure.

    PE
     
  5. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Thanks.
    From memory, the measuring of all chemicals was a very deliberate ritual with this so I think I can safely rule that out. I'll run some thermometer comparisons today. Hopefully that's where I went wrong. I might have to buy a nice digital thermometer.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

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    Well, here is another thought then. Blix or fix contamination of the color developer might do this as well.

    PE
     
  7. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    If the negatives look normal compared to others, it could be a scanning problem. Try scanning some known good negatives the same way as these and see if the problem persists.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    My first thought would be to check the scanning process. What scanner was used and was it "set" for a "Color Negative" source?

    Offhand, the so-called "orange mask" common to mst CN films appears to have been reproduced faithfully. If this is NOT the case... I would suspect ... "fried film", far, FAR beyond the "expiration date", or in some way stored in a very hostile (read: glove compartment through a New Mexican summer) enviroment.

    I'm curious about what did happen.
     
  9. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Scanning's another thing I've ruled out.
    Two negs side by side, the top one lab developed, the bottom one mine.
    I'll throw in a positive scan to the mix too. I think it's quite telling, but I just don't know what it's telling me :tongue:
     

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  10. Photo Engineer

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    That looks like severe underdevelopment to me, but the color shift is wrong.

    You can see the bluish tinge in the color negatives though which is typical of a problem, but an unusual one. I also see low contrast where the original post did not show that very clearly to me.

    I guess now that it is either underdevelopment due to low temperature or dilution or time. It might also be bad film. In any event, I am basing this more on contrast now than on the hue of the final image. Did you prewet to bring the processing drum or tank up to 38 deg C? Did you hold it there for the entire 3' 15"?

    PE
     
  11. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Thanks for that.
    Yeah I did a prewet for a good 5mins before starting. A carry-over from my typical B&W process which has always been worthwhile, I've found. In regards to holding the tank at temp, I didn't actually check the temps coming out (I'll have to do this next time too) as I'm not rotating the tank in a waterbath (my kingdom to find a jobo processor here), but the room wasn't exactly cold when developing so I can't picture a large drop off in temps in the space of just over 3mins. Not one to suggest this level of issue anyway, but then maybe I'm being too relaxed about temperature?

    Food for thought for another round of developing tonight with some in-date Portra.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

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    Developer temperature with C-41 is critical to within 1/2 deg F or 1/4 deg C.

    PE
     
  13. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    The tetenal kit gives 31c times, I used those rather than the 38/39c times, I didnt get any colour casts, certainly nothing like yours even if I drifted off a degree or 2, which would happen time to time.

    From my experience the tetenal kit is quite robust, if its not the film, then something has to have gone really wrong on your end other than being off by a little bit.

    My suggestion is you've mixed the part A, B, C of the developer up in the wrong ratios, or you've added them out of order (they do funky stuff and gets precipitate when you do that), add them to the required amount of water rather than mixing the concentrates together then to water.

    I mixed mine up as I needed it, rather than all at once as well.
     
  14. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    This has me thinking. The ratios were right but I did add the chemicals together than added the water at the end. Seemed harmless at the time but I wonder if it could have been enough to make this happen.

    After running another test tonight with a rubbish 4x5 sheet of Portra 160NC and getting a similar result, I'm starting to wonder if that could be it. My developing was done completely in a waterbath that didn't budge off exactly 38C for the whole development cycle, and only fell 1C during the blix cycle. Not a temp issue, I'm beginning to believe.
     

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  15. AlexG

    AlexG Member

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    I really don't think it's a temp and or time issue.

    I went to answer the door once and couldn't make it back to the "darkroom" on time. The film was in the dev for about 30 sec longer and the temp was probably 3 or 4 degrees off. The images on the roll (Portra 800) ended up being ever so slightly off balance, but was very easily corrected in photoshop and in the enlarger using the filters.

    [​IMG]


    Make sure you mix the chems directly as the instructions say. Last time I checked, the Tetenal kits specifically told you what order to put the mixtures in.

    Mix another batch and tell us how it went!
     
  16. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    After tonight's vastly more precise attempt I'm beginning to believe you too. Times were almost second perfect and temps were as bang on as you can get. Also using this sheet of Portra instead of cheap supermarket Superia eliminates the out of date film issue too. Process of elimination points to a chemical issue, to which my mixing the parts before adding the water, as odd as it seems to someone with pretty minimal knowledge of chemicals in general, could very well be the culprit.

    I'll be sure to try and build up the courage to run another fresh, properly mixed batch of chems in the next couple of days.
     
  17. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    It's definately an issue if you do it like that, unless you thoroughly mix part A with part B before adding C, and even then I wouldn't do it, try a small fresh batch on 35mm mixed up into water, also much easier to tell when fully mixed :smile:
     
  18. Photo Engineer

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    Was there any oily material in the developer?

    Mixing order is critical. You are mixing acids, bases and organic compounds. These must be mixed in a specific order or things can go wrong.

    PE
     
  19. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I've never ever gotten anything near that bad and I'm pretty sure I processed 8 degrees high once. It's got to be a mixing issue.
     
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  20. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I agree. I've processed C-41 film and RA-4 paper both high and low (3-4 degrees C) and have never had anything like a signficant problem. The images fell well within "usual" color balancing dichro head settings.

    Still might be chance of horribly "fried" film.
     
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Just have to second this, it was a lesson I learned the hard way :wink:
     
  22. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Let us know how it turns out.
     
  23. J Drew

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    You can calibrate any thermometer by putting it in a jar filled to the top w/ ice & a little H2O. Then boil a pan of H2O on top of a stove. That should give one an accurate set for 212F & 32F. One must compensate for altitude above sea level, & the thermometer must have a range that reaches 32F & 212F.
    I use a Kodak process thermometer that I keep safely packed away & bring out occasionally to compare to my working thermometers.
     
  24. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

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    Alright, apologies for it being such a long time between drinks. I've been working on a DIY motorbase and it's apparently taken much, much longer than it should have.

    Tonight I finally got around to remixing my chemicals again (how many months has it been?!) only this time in the order Tetenal recommends.

    I think we can properly put this issue to bed, thankfully. Moral of the story, mix your chemicals in the order the instructions tells you to! Who'd have thought the solution would be this easy?

    Now to develop a roll that's worth developingÂ…


    Thanks a huge amount for all your help everyone. Hopefully this thread will serve as a good reference point in case anyone else treads this path again. Hopefully my mistakes will be good for something!
     

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