Developing while on a photo trip

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jeff Bannow, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I will be travelling to South Dakota at the end of August and plan on shooting a decent amount of 4x5 film. I think I have decided to develop my film as I go. We will be driving the whole way, and staying in your standard hotel most nights.

    Currently, I am using a Nikor 4x5 spiral tank that takes 12 sheets of 4x5 and 1200ml of liquid. I do my own developing, but not at home - I dev at school using their chems and sink. I am very well versed at developing using their system - Develop, wash, stop bath 30s, wash, fix 4m, wash, check fix, hypo 3m, wash 10m, photoflo, dry in film cabinet.

    I would like to adapt this to take along on the trip. It would allow me to review as I go along, and also minimize the risk of exposing the film after shooting it (I am having a recurring nightmare that involves me forgetting to close the box of exposed film on the last night of the trip and loosing everything.)

    So, I was thinking of taking along the Nikor tank, D-76, skip the stop bath, fix, hypo and photoflo. I figure I can mix up the jugs before heading out. I would need a big graduate as well as some way of drying.

    Am I asking for trouble here? Is it not worth the effort? Any thoughts on how to dry 12-24 sheets of film in a hotel room? Thanks for making it this far in this book length post! :smile:
     
  2. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    Maybe simplify developing to Diafine or the like. Or mail exposed film to someone back home that will throw packages into fridge till you get back?
     
  3. Don12x20

    Don12x20 Member

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    A few ideas
    * Take black plastic bags (huge trashcan sized) and blue tape to block out windows for changing.
    * Keep D76 as concentrate - dilute as you need.
    * Get liquid fixer concentrate (Kodak Rapid Fixer or other)- dilute as you need, ymmv if you discard this into septic or sewer.
    * Get small bottle of white vinegar (acetic acid!) and dilute (for stop bath)

    Dump used chemicals (treat them as one-evening shot; I'd use developer as one-shot).

    * Develop films and hang in shower overnight. Take shower in morning after they are dry!. I'd take some wire (coat hanger or other) and cut to form S-hooks. Attach a closepin (or better yet, one of the Jobo film hangers with the sharp film pins) to wire . Put S-hook over the shower rod. About an hour after hanging, carefully blot the drip at the corner and they will dry faster. In an emergency - an unused brand new hairdryer - but you risk blowing dust onto them. South Dakota in August should be very dry - you shouldn't have problems with film drying. An air conditioned room will be very dry as well.
     
  4. mcfactor

    mcfactor Member

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    There's no good reason you cant. Use wire coat hangers with twist-ties and clothespins. The only thing I would suggest is to use a more concentrated developer, like rodinal, so you dont have to carry a huge tube of d76.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sounds like a plan.

    As for drying film--if you're lucky, there will be a retractable drying line over the bathtub (there often is), but if not, you can always improvise something involving clothes hangers or a string between any two convenient points. I highly recommend Jobo sheet film clips for drying a lot of film in a small space. They are expensive, but they hold the film very securely with minimal contact by piercing the film with a pin, and the film hangs perpendicular to the line, so you can fit a lot of film of any format on a short line.
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Some years ago I developed film as I travelled on the East Coast on the US and found that there were differences in contrast from place to place. I was told that this may have been caused by changes of water. I used my regular film developer carried across the Atlantic just in case the US formulation was different. The times, dilution and agitation were the same so the contrast changes had to be the result of local water PH. It may be worth developing one sheet to test contrast before completing all your exposed film.
     
  7. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Those Jobo clips look nice, but boy are they spendy at $7 a clip. I think I'll have to bite the bullet though if I want to do this right.

    Interesting about the contrast. Luckily I will only be moving hotels once and will be in the same geographic area the whole time, so testing should be easy enough.

    I will definitely need to test this setup before I head out!
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Ouch! They were spendy at $4.50 a clip and then last I checked $5.50 at B&H. I've got 40 of them now, some of which I bought new, but I also got some second hand for around $2 a clip.
     
  9. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Luckily I will only be moving hotels once and will be in the same geographic area the whole time, so testing should be easy enough.

    I check to see if the bathroom at the hotel or motel I stay at has a window, most interior bathrooms can be made dark with tape abound the door and a towel to seal the door at the floor. Calumet use to sell a dark tent large enough to load film in a tank. Dust may be an issue, seal up the AC vent when you dry your film.
     
  10. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    And they say gold is a good investment!

    BTW, chemistry and my experience shows that D-76 can only be concentrated about 2:1. Two hundred grams of sulfite is a bit of a choke for a liter of water.
     
  11. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    The Jobo clips look like plastic clothes pins. Anyone ever try those? What's special about the Jobo's?
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Plastic clothespins hang the sheet parallel to the line. Jobo clips hang the sheet perpendicular to the line, so you can fit many more sheets on the line, particularly with larger formats.

    Clothespins have a larger area of contact with the sheet and larger sheets sometimes slip from the clothespin. Jobo clips pierce the sheet with a pin, so they have a tiny area of contact with the sheet, and even very large sheets (my largest are 11x14" and 7x17") never slip out of the clip.
     
  13. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    When I do this, I develop, wash and fix in tubes or tanks. I use dilute Rodinal, water rinse (no stop bath), TF-4 (rapid fixing plus rapid washing), Edwal LFN Low Foam Wetting Agent for Final Rinse and Jobo clips.
     
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  15. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Makes sense, thanks.
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I don't often recommend HC-110, but this situation practically screams for the product. It is highly concentrated, and has a very good shelf life. It was designed for this type of work. Development times are very short, but can be extended with higher than usual dilutions. I'll leave it to you to figure out the times that work for you. A single small bottle can process lots of film. It is well known, and well documented with many different films. For large format films, it's a no-brainer. Image quality with D-76 will be theoretically better. It doesn't matter. The large format negative has information to spare for all but the biggest enlargements. Proper stop bath, if you choose to use it, beats the pants off vinegar. For use as a stop bath, vinegar is diluted with an equal part of water. Kodak's indicating stop bath is cheap and is diluted with 63 parts of water. A quart (litre - close enough for this stuff) of white vinegar will yield 2 quarts of non-indicating stop bath. A single ounce of Kodak stop bath will yield 1/2 gallon (2L) of indicating stop bath. You tell me which is easier to carry around. Fixer can be a problem, though I'd probably go with a rapid fixer concentrate. You can use it as a one shot fixer by diluting it more than recommended. For drying, how about one of those round things with clothes pins attache that you get at the dollar store. They hold a dozen sheets of film and might cost a whole $1.29. I use 'em at home and have never had a film slip loose. $7 for a film hanger? Blashphemy!
     
  17. Ria

    Ria Member

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    I would use distilled water to eliminate that particular variable.
    Ria
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Why can't you wait until you get home? The film will be fine. I have developed film that was in a film box in room temperature out in the open exposed to room light for over a year, and it turned out fine. Just don't open the box with the film in it and you will be fine!

    Developing on the road is probably only worth packing the kit if you need to send something off on a deadline.

    If you have to do it, I would use HC. I would also not bother skipping the stop. It will last as a single bottle of working solution for your whole trip, and will extend the life of your fixer. For fixer, a non-hardening, liquid concentrate like Ilford Rapid Fixer would be best, to save wash time. (Small 500 mL bottle of fixer concentrate will be more than fine.) It is worth it to bring washaid for the same reason. Photo Flo will help too, especially in such unknown water conditions, and it is also highly concentrated. Developer, washaid, and photo flo can be chucked after each session. All you need to store for next session is the stop and the fixer. Then you need two or three beakers (dev., stop, fixer, reuse one for photo flo). For drying, you can use my favorite solution: bring a plastic collapsible wardrobe with you and hang little clips from a coat hanger; about three or four clips per hanger. And glassine envelopes so the film packs smaller and safer than plastic sleeves. Bring hypo check too, so you know when to mix new fixer.

    You can also do what sports and entertainment shooters sometimes used to do to beat the competition to the newswires at big events: Use Flash-Dry and light your film on fire to dry it. Be sure you blow it out in time! :wink:
     
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  19. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    ...

    If you need to do a snip test that one thing but waiting until you get home will allow you to relax, clean equipment, plan the next days shoot, and get some real rest for the mind and body, get a good meal etc..

    Curt
     
  20. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I certainly could do so, but I think this would allow me to "know" I got the shot while I still have a chance to go back and reshoot. Besides that, it will reduce my chances of exposing all of my film while reloading holders! Which of course means I will probably fix my film before developing or something. :smile:

    There are lots of great suggestions here. Thanks everyone for chiming in.
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    "I certainly could do so, but I think this would allow me to "know" I got the shot while I still have a chance to go back and reshoot."

    First of all, you should just know whether you got the shot or not...especially with large format, where you have no reason to not know your exact camera settings and composition. You are spending at least a dollar a shot, so this alone is incentive enough to learn what the heck will be on your negs without having to develop them to find out. Second of all, if you are really that impatient and/or unsure, are really experimenting with something new and unknown to you, or are using flash, this is why the good folks at Fuji make instant film.

    "Besides that, it will reduce my chances of exposing all of my film while reloading holders!"

    You are just as likely, if not moreso, to expose your film loading your Nikkor tank. Either way you will have to unload and load holders. It takes less time and less fiddling to get sheets unloaded and into a box than it does to get them unloaded and into a Nikkor sheet film tank.

    "Which of course means I will probably fix my film before developing or something."

    In a less-than-ideal and unfamiliar lab, this is definitely more likely to occur than in your every-day lab!

    I would really think long and hard about the *why* before thinking any more about the *how*.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2008
  22. mcfactor

    mcfactor Member

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    Really, 2F/2F, you dont see the difference between accidentally exposing two sheets vs an entire box? and you never make mistakes? Photography, for you, is such a perfect thing that you would suggest someone NOT take pictures because they admit to making mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, whether you are a master photographer (which few are) or a novice. Besides, how else will you learn? Should you not take pictures on a trip and miss countless opportunities simply because you have not developed your craft to some impossible notion of perfection? I think not.
     
  23. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Well, I recently moved up from medium format to 4x5. I find that my work is a lot more refined - I am forced to think more, move more slowly. However, at the same time I have a new light meter and it responds differently to unusual lighting than my last unit, and different lenses that I am still getting accustomed to.

    Also, last year on a trip to San Francisco one of my RZ67 backs developed a light leak during the trip, ruining about 15 rolls of film. Of course, we discovered this when we went to pick up the film after the trip was over. D'oh!

    Add to this, my changing tent is too small for working with my grafmatics. It gets cramped, and I get tired and sweaty (and irritable!). As a result I have forgotten to put away my unexposed sheet film after loading (only two sheets left thankfully.) I will be ordering a new tent before the trip to hopefully resolve this issue.

    I thought about going to fujiroid, but the options seem to require importing a holder and film from Japan at a high cost. Although, having instant film capability would be great.
     
  24. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    "* Take black plastic bags (huge trashcan sized) and blue tape to block out windows for changing."

    Black trash can bags will not block light. I once had a student who built a darkroom n her home and could not understand why her film and paper were always fogged. I took a look and found that I could almost read a newspaper in the darkroom which had these bags over the window.
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If one is going to be traveling for some significant amount of time, I can see the attraction of film processing on the road, just to be sure you don't have some problem that you might not catch until the film is processed, like a light leak or a shutter that's due for a cleaning. One summer I was away shooting for about two months and processed the film back home and discovered a problem with fingerprints that I hadn't had before, because the fingerprints had remained on the unprocessed film for much longer than they normally would. Now I load film with nitrile gloves, and next time I'm on the road for that length of time, I'll be bringing a daylight processing tank and chemicals. It would also be nice to be able to get home and start printing, rather than slogging through a big backlog of film to process.
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Type 55 is the answer. <sniff>

    But how about a monobath approach with ordinary sheet film. Then I suppose you could do your processing in a large film changing tent. Just a thought.