First 4x5 Shoot and Processing: Some Problems

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by chrisl, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    I finally developed the negatives from my first 4x5 shoot last few days using d76 1:1 and the Unicolor drum processing.
    A few problems:
    1. Keeping the film seperate. I came up with a 'O' ring that I cut to divide film on the main 'V' channel. Works ok. But then the negatives stuck together on the edges of the film, where they lie side by side along the other ridge...it's a \ instead of the main 'V'. 4 negative edges have stuck together so I have to devise something else. But what's going to clamp on a \ shaped piece of plastic? Anyone else have this problem??
    2. Alot of dust specs on the film! Now I understand why people pay a premium for quickload/readyloads! lol Ok then, how do I at least minimize this bad problem? Should I buy a changing bag? If so, which one?
    3. One negative has a blue dot, about 1/4" along the side...was this too from touching something?
    4 And lastly, I scratched, no, gouged the emulsion straight off on 3 images, I think while getting them out of the canister?? (I found the black silver emulsion actually on the film after the photoflo) Wow. Never realized how clumbsy I am apparantly! Are all sheet films this sensitive? Am i doing something terribly wrong?

    Thanks again for all the sugg. dev. and times! And sorry for all the questions/problems as well. But this combines problems both from behind the camera to inside the darkroom problems! lol

    Chris
     
  2. LFGuy

    LFGuy Member

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    1. I use a plastic clothes pin on the middle V part, and it keeps the film separated when doing 4x5's. Just like in this web page here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/

    2. I live in a pretty dry climate, but don't really seem to have this problem. I do load my film in a changing bag, I'm not sure if that hurts or helps, though. I use my bathroom as a darkroom, and usually run a little hot water or take a hot shower before doing anything with film. Make sure your film holders are clean as well, and that there's not a lot of dust floating around your bellows!

    3. I've seen this before once or twice, and I'm pretty sure you're getting this because of the film touching another piece of film.

    4. Probably you just need to be a little more careful. I've noticed, however, that some films seem to scratch a little more than others, for me anyways. Maybe it's just me being clumsy.

    If I can be of any more help, let me know!
     
  3. bmac

    bmac Member

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    It sounds like you are too clumbsy for large format work... you better just stick to 35mm. [​IMG] Seriously though, it takes awhile to get used to it. The plastic clothspin thing works great. I actually usually only process two sheets at a time due to my baby budget, and the risk of F'ing everything up. Dust is a major problem in my darkroom, but for some reason, no problem on my negs. I either use a closet or a changing bag and never have specs (now I just totally jinxed myself). Keep you chin up, it will get easier.

    Brian
     
  4. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Deaer Chrisl,

    How cool that you're moving into the format. See, for every one of you a thousand Western Hemisperians move into digital. We're a small group, but we're tough.

    Anyway, the scratching comes from the way you load the film into the drum. I used to get this all the time. When you curve the film in your hand to load it, if you curve it over on itself or if you let go of it when it's touching another piece of film, it scratches. It happens pretty easily, apparently.

    The blue dot is probably anti-haltation dye that did not wash out. If you wash the film again, for longer, it should come out. If you do not pre-rinse the film sometimes, the dye stays and is stubborn. When you do pre-rinse the film you will see all the dye, or alot of it, when you dump the water before adding developer.

    In my experience, changing bags are hard to use and seem to cause dust if there's the least bit of static in the bag. Use a changing tent if you can find one; they make all the difference in the world. To minimize dust, just make sure you both blow with canned air and brush the holders every time you load them. If you got them used, you should seriously blow through the light trap. Light traps seem to also be dust traps.

    Hope this helps. Welcome to the format!

    dgh
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Hey Chris, Welcome to the LF...in regard to the dust problem, I have found that vacuuming the holders periodically (slides pulled and traps and septums vacuumed) goes a long way to solving the problem. Brushing and blowing helps but sometimes just seems to move dust around. Additionally, I use a conventional plastic trash bag on the inside of my changing bag to reduce the chance of dust originating in the bag transferring to the holders. There are a variety of retouching methods for the negatives with dust spots.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    For dust spots on the neg, I'll often retouch with a soft lead pencil.

    To avoid dust spots, don't use a changing bag. The changing tents, where the fabric does not contact the film or the holders are better, but a darkroom (or a dark room) is really the best.

    I usually brush out my holders with a Kinetronics anti-static brush.

    Other tips--

    Wear a hat when you are loading. Some of that dust may be dandruff.

    Store holders on edge rather than flat to prevent dust from settling on the slides and working their way onto the film when the slide is pulled.

    Some people swear by ziplock bags, but some say that they cause their own static problems. I don't use them in general.
     
  7. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    David...

    That's a GREAT idea, to store holders on their sides! One of those far-too-simple-to-have-actually-thought-of ideas.

    As for the baggies, I have never had a problem. And they work better than any thing else I have used when in the field.

    dgh
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I picked that up from my friend Stephen Longmire, who may eventually find his way to APUG. He does swear by ziplock bags, by the way.
     
  9. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    Thanks Guys for the encouragement! I needed it! LOL

    I actually tried the plastic clothes pin first (I had to cut the head about 1/4" so the film would fit...and this cause quite a bit of scratching in itself on the first batch. So I nixed that and went with the cut ring. So it sounds like you guys aren't having the same problem along those other / ridges. I bet then I just have to find a wider clip on the V channel. Maybe I'll try another clothes pin based on everyone's success and cut it more carefully without any rough edges to scratch film.

    Thanks for the suggestions for the horrendous dust! Lead pencil sounds good...as well as I found neg. dyes (Dyene and Marshalls for ex) at B&H.
    Great suggestions on cleaning my holders. I got these all used so maybe that'll help. My darkroom is the outdoor shed as well so maybe this was also contributing to the dust...I found this Harrison tent that might be worth the money at Calumet: http://calumetphoto.com/syrinx/ctl?PAGE=Co...&type=SPDSEARCH
    It's either spend the money on this, and a static brush, or start spending $2.25 for quickloads vs. $.84/sheet. Woudn't take long to pay that tent off! lol

    I bet you're right David on the other scratching done by myself. Besides it was my first time loading, unloading (I think I did some damage at this step as I just couldn't get the film out of the holders w/out bending the edges inward so I could grasp the end and pull out. I bet I did some damage here) and processing...I had a ton of opportunities to scratch the hell out of these lol

    Well Brian, maybe you're right....I just to darned clumbsy for lf! lol
    (True story: Mentioned my into to lf the other day to this photographer I met by chance. He just sold all his 8x10 equipment last yr and went all digital! Boy, makes ya feel 'old world' lol But just LOOK at the size of this neg. compared to 35mm! WOW! )

    Thanks again for the suggestions guys! This is a bit harder than I thought it'd be; but I'll eventually get it! [​IMG]
     
  10. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Get the tent! It is definitely worth it.

    dgh
     
  11. bmac

    bmac Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (chrisl @ Mar 27 2003, 07:49 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> But just LOOK at the size of this neg. compared to 35mm! WOW! </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    From the first time I pulled my scratched under processed first neg out of the unicolor drum, I knew 35mm was going to start collecting dust, and I also knew that 4x5 wasn't big enough... Still drooling over an 8x10... one day soon....
     
  12. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  13. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Wait,

    You and Chris did large format photography without film holders?

    And I can vouch for those 2500 series jobo tanks with the film holder. I used that system for years before getting the Expert and a motor base. They work great, and I never had streaking or mottling of any kind. The ONE drawback is that they use a lot of chemistry.

    dgh
     
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  15. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    My 1st 4x5 processing went really well. I used the tray method and did 1 piece at a time (that's how paranoid I was). But it was worth it. Think about all the time wasted trying to get the drum to work, you could have already made a lot of good negs using trays instead.
     
  16. RAP

    RAP Member

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    Just a few suggestions. I use a vacum cleaner to clean my holders every time I load them. I use a bush that is used only for my film holders. I have no problems with dust. Most of us started with trays but I find that the processing is not as even as it should. Expose some film on a smooth textureless surface for zone V and tray develope. There tends to be higher densities in the center because of the agitation.

    I personally use HP combi tanks. I have one tank for each step, from presoak to washing, ready and waiting before I start. Once you immerse the holder, the film is always in solution. I work in total darkness so I can transfer the holder from tank to tank, then snap on the lid and turn on the lights. I like them because you can use various agitation techniques, plus compensating development more effectively. Plenty of famous photographers use JOBO and if you want to spend the money and play with cogs and wheels and tanks, be my guest.

    Darkroom work is not rocket science. It is more like following a recipe for a soufflé. As your technique and skills improve, so will your results.
     
  17. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  18. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    Ony Aggie forgot her holders David. She shot her Mamiya instead. I on the other hand broght dust infested holders...oh, and I forgot to tell you all too I lost an additional 2 images to stuck negatives to the inside of the holder apparantly b/c I got moisture inside. I think I dropped in a field of wet grass...or the rain might've done it too. (One was the cool huge bellows shot Aggie ). LOL Definetely lived and learned this round LOL...Oh, and Brian, I'm already jones'ing for an 8x10 as well! Just the site of these negs makes me wonder what an 8x10 neg would look like hehe Heck, on ebay, you can get a B&J field camera for a couple of hundred and plus with a lens. Maybe one day lol

    Well, going to shoot "something" this weekend to get some more practice in with this camera and loading and such before we leave for Europe in a couple weeks. I figure I've got to learn to be more graceful, and cleaner, this next round. Oh boy am I in trouble LOL

    Thanks again for everyones help!!
    Chris
     
  19. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Aggie,

    It's a cool exercise to not use a meter and really try to intuitively read the light. I used to have a fuji 6x9 with no meter so I found myself doing it all the time, but I was always hesitant.

    dgh
     
  20. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    When you vacuum out your film holders - dont forget to vacuum out your camera! - also - you have a lipstick brush for your lenses .. right? -- brush off your film holders before you load them in your camera. I know that when you put that static charged film holder in the camera - it not only draws in the dust from the dark slide, it also sucks it in from inside the camera!! - Never fear - you will overcome these obsticals! LF photographers truely are the keepers of fine art B&W. - Frank
     
  21. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    Here's a followup. I ordered a Harrison tent/ the normal size that handles 4x5 and 8x10 just in case. Hope it's not too unruly in size as I've seen the Pup one and it's not small lol But I'll be ok if I ever go 8x10.

    And, Boy, now that I've got everything, I can see why choosing lightweight gear is important! My film holders take up an entire small drink cooler just in themselves! lol But I cleaned them real well, dusted off with Ilfords antistatic cloth, blew them off with canned air and have them individually stashed in ziplock bags ready to load.

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I really appreciated them!
    Chris
     
  22. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I just finished buying 3 Grafmatics. Should reduce the bulk considerably. So in the space of 3 holders (fat ones anyway) I have 18 sheets of film.
     
  23. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    Hi Chris,

    A few quick tips on the UniColor thing. (I got Eric doing it..so anybody should be able to... :>) ) ...just kidding Eric.

    1. Practice the loading / unloading with old film in daylight until it is really easy

    2. Gently fold the emulsion side in when loading each sheet

    3. Load a sheet ( each side) and slide with a small push of your finger on top edge of film to the bottom of the drum.

    4. Clip on clamp (clothes pin) to v- channel near top of drum

    5. Slowly while pinching open clothes pin - slide towards bottom until you gently bump up against the sheets already in drum.

    6. Add 2 more sheets until they just clear top lip of drum (feel with fingers in dark)

    As for unloading..here is the easy tip.

    1. After all the washing is done just set drum in sink with top lid facing upwards.

    2. Take off lid and fill drum with proper temperature water.

    3. Stick your hand in and gently (you can feel the clothes pin) slide up each top sheet

    4. Sometimes the sheet will catch on the lip of drum but with a little care it will easily slide by. (work on this)

    5. Gently (while pushing up frm below) grasp a corner of the sheet and remove.

    6. Hang to dry and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

    Hope this helps.
     
  24. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    Those Grafmatic film holders are nice, and are a significant wt. savings. The only drawback is one must have a graflock back. I may move upto this system one day.

    And Thanks GreyWolf! That does help. Filling the tank with water at the end to facilitate getting them out unscathed is great! That, and some needed practice should do the trick. Thanks again!
     
  25. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Just curious... How much developer would someone use in the big 16x20 Unidrums?
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    You don't actually need a Graflok back to use a Grafmatic--just enough clearance under the groundglass to slip it in, since it's thicker than a traditional filmholder. If you can try one out and discover that it doesn't fit, sometimes it is possible to add washers or spacers to give you a little more room for Grafmatics, Polaroid holders, rollfilm holders, etc.