First roll of film - A True Story

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by DieHipsterDie, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    Equipment involved: Patterson 2 roll plastic tank, tmax 24 exp roll, changing bag, one set of clumsy fingers.

    Manage to open the roll easily and eventually get it on the reel. Start cranking and to my amazement the film actually starts to wind on the spool! 10 cranks later and it jams. I somehow manage to unjam the damn thing. Three cranks later and it jams again, for good. I still have maybe two feet of film not on the reel. With nothing else to do, I just wind the excess around the spool. I put the whole thing together and develop.

    1/4 of the frames have kinks, 1/4 are purple. The rest look ok, though my attempt at printing them turned out really washed out looking prints. Not sure if it's the negative or the paper processing.

    That's my story.
     
  2. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I did slightly better than you. My frames came out, but I overestimated the development and got this:

    Click here for overdevelopment.

    If you want some advice, you have to be extremely careful when loading the film on the reels. Patterson tanks actually come with better reels than mine do, but it can still be a PITA to load plastic reels. Make sure that the reel is dry. Make sure that your area is completely light tight. Cut off the leader before you load the film onto the reels. I load emulsion side down toward the reel because I find it much easier to go with the curl of the film than against it. Make sure your water is the right temperature and make sure you're reading the correct times for your film/developer combination.

    What are you using, by the way?
     
  3. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    D76
     
  4. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    I think we've all had these frustrating experiences in the early days of developing film. The trick is to go in with a calm state of mind & be prepared to deal with any problems that come up. I say that as someone who destroyed several rolls of film in the early days.
    You just have to work out why the film was sticking & how to avoid that next time.
    Most common cause of sticking on the plastic reels is that they are a bit wet or sticky in the grooves. Make sure they have been well washed & dryed before loading.
    As the other poster said, emulsion down, so the curve of the film matches the curve of the reel.
    Cut the corners of the leading endge of the film.

    I know there is a very good step by step tutorial floating around somewhere.

    I have found that TMax film gives great results in TMax developer.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I understand how a changing bag can be a necessity, but if there is any way you can gain experience without one, especially if you are using plastic reels, I would heartily recommend it.

    Any time I have used a changing bag, I have found that my hands and whatever I am working with have quickly become hot and humid. When that happens, film and reels can get sticky.

    The other problem with changing bags, IMHO, is that they muffle the sound. As film loads into a reel, one hears one type of sound as it goes in correctly, and a slightly different sound when it is going in incorrectly. I rely on that sound when I am loading reels (although in my case I use steel reels, so the sounds are different).

    Film can be loaded on to reels and into tanks in a darkened room, at night, and then developed next day.

    Everyone will suggest you practice with a junk roll of film. If you are going to use a changing bag, at least some of your practice should be in the changing bag.

    Finally, patience and a calm demeanor are critical :smile: .

    Soon, you will be doing this almost automatically, and wondering how it could have seemed so difficult.

    Have fun - I do.

    Matt
     
  6. buze

    buze Member

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    Steel

    I had many fight with Paterson reels; probably for the reasons already mentionned (humidity etc) in any case I totaly gave up on plastic reels and got myself steel tanks + reels.

    Steel reels/ranks just rule. I wonder in fact why they had to invent the plastic ones. With a tiny amount of practice, the steel reels are a /lot/ easier to load. They cannot damage the film (the film is deposited on them, not forcibly dragged), they have no moving parts, they have no problem with temperature/humidity level, are easy to clean, and the tanks uses quite a lot less solution. Oh and they look better on shelf :D

    I'm very enthusiast about steel reels, because I had such nightmares in the darkroom trying to spool the last 12ish frames of a 36 on a paterson. Steel reels work just as well for 120 as for 135 too.

    I binned the Paterson tanks...
     
  7. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    My first roll of film was some Kodak T-Max 100 in 120 format -starting with 120 seems like a bad idea, in retrospect. I got it all on the reel, after much frustration with my dark bag and eventually just taking it out in a dark room and doing it there. I developed the film, had no idea about agitation, guessed it and got some sort of results. Didnt know how long to fix for, or to keep the stop bath in. I only got two shots out of the whole roll of 8 (6x9 format), and they were overdeveloped. Oh, and I didnt heat the developer to the correct temperature either.
    I think everyone messes up a bit to begin with, but you'll get better. And I highly suggest steel reels also. Music may help as well - it's true about remaining calm.
    10 rolls of 35mm film later and I can do it without any huge problems...ok, I did forget to heat the developer again on roll 7 and 8. But there wasnt anything that interesting on there :smile:
     
  8. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    In the summer months I have found that my hands sweating in the changing bag can make reels and film sticky. I now have half a dozen silica gel sachets permanently in the changing bag which helps reduce (but doesn't completely remove) the humidity in the bag
     
  9. leeturner

    leeturner Subscriber

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    I just can't use a changing bag. My hands tend to perspire easily at the best of times and I found the the plastic reels were getting moisture on from my hands. Since changing to a darkroom I've had no problems with plastic reels except for one which had a fault and went straight in the bin. To be fair I've never tried stainless reels so can't compare.
     
  10. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    One other word of advice - do NOT drink three or four cups of coffee immediately before loading film in the darkroom or changing bag!

    I use plastic reels, thank you! One distinct advantage over metal - they are either "straight" - undeformed - or broken to pieces. There is no distortion left after attempts to straighten them, as a result of having been dropped.

    Practice - and one other suggestion: Take the reels apart, and SCRUB the grooves clean. The most effective way, I've found, is to use a toothbrush and toothpaste, Toothpaste seems to be just abrasive enough to do a really good job.
     
  11. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Well I don't. Not for loading reels. The minute amount
    of dark space needed for loading must surely be close
    by or easily improvised. Dan
     
  12. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    You might find a changing 'tent' easier to work in than a changing 'bag'.

    Sacrifice a roll of film for practice - after you think you have it in the light, go into the bag or tent and practice lots more. Once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty fast, but it does take a little while to get there.

    I saved the first roll I ever developed as a reminder that one needs to be a little patient with learning curves. It was perfectly developed - but not one printable neg. Full of kinks from fighting it onto the reel, and undeveloped spots where the layers were in contact. All in all, pretty ugly. It's part of the learning process.

    Bob
     
  13. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I agree with previous posters on the changing bag being a pita. Also I agree on keeping the reels clean and dry.
    I just developed 5 35mm Neopan 400 at the same time in a Paterson drum and the loading was a bit nervewrecking. I noticed that I unintentionally turned som of the reels a bit so the inlet on them didn't align with the film I was loading thus creating trouble. I also found that when problems with jam started I could continue after "bending " the reel a bit as if I would to break it. I could feel how the films setled on the reels when doing it.
    The development was sucessfull apart from bending marks on 2 or 3frames on one film
    Surprisingly not the best frames though. I don't know what went wrong :smile:
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  14. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Another reel caveat

    This one applies to both steel and plastic reels . I learned this the hard way, early on.

    Go easy on amount of wetting agent if you use it, and remove the film from the reels before you dunk the film into the wetting agent solution.

    I had a case of well, if a little photo-flo is good, a bit more won't hurt. I now find that my final rinse goes well with reverse osmosis fitered water ( yes, a luxury - I tapped off the drinking water tap at the kitchen sink, and ran it to a valved line above the darkroom sink) and half the called for amount of wetting agent.

    The early dried excess photo flow residue would gum up the plastic reels, making them hard to load without the film binding. Even with steel it resulted in the developer foaming, and resulting foam after effects on the developed image at the top edge of the top roll in a multi roll tank.

    Gunk on reels can be cleaned with toothpate and brush, as previously suggested, or in an automatic dishwasher on the top rack. Wait until the dishwashers' own wetting agent reservoir (if fitted) is empty first.
     
  15. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Here's my reel loading method which works 100% of the time now for me. I prefer Jobo reels to Paterson as the rings are wider and less prone to sticking but this method also works for dry Paterson reels in good condition.

    1. Always in the dark (never use bag anymore)
    2. Cut off leader and round corners of leading edge of roll (see photo)
    3. With lights on insert enough film so it is firmly engaged in the reel (see photo)
    4. Turn off lights
    5. Stick reel between lips so film canister opening and reel take up are in the same plane reducing tension on the film to a minimum. Gently pull the reel away from the lips about one foot(30cm) at a time and rotate the reel taking up the film. Always keep just enough tension between between canister and reel so the film does not kink or bend. (See photo)
    6. When film is fully loaded remove canister from lips, take scissors and cut of leader

    Proceed in good temper from there having avoided profanities and taking the lord's name in vain!!
     

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  16. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I haven't used my AP (similar to Paterson) plastic tank in months -- maybe over a year. There were a couple of times when it jammed so badly that I couldn't think of a better solution than cutting the film and loading the second half onto a second reel. After this happened a couple of times, I converted to stainless steel, but with one additional comment: I use Hewes reels. I've got some non-Hewes reels, but the Hewes reels are much better. The Hewes reels are made of thicker steel, so they're less likely to get bent out of shape. The 35mm reels also have two small spokes that fit into a couple of early sprocket holes in the film. This is a much easier and more effective way of centering the film on the reel than the clip that other stainless steel reels use.

    FWIW, I also picked up, on a lark, a Russian plastic tank. It feels a bit cheap, but I actually prefer it to my AP tank. Film can jam during loading, but the design of the reels and spool (they're one unit in this design) is such that there are several ways to unjam the film. Note there are at least two different Russian developing tank designs. This one's a two-roll design that loads film emulsion side in and uses inversion agitation. The other design loads film emulsion side out and uses rotation agitation (the top, I'm told, isn't secure enough to support inversion).
     
  17. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Pardon my asking but who is "Photo whore" ? Is this site appropriate for such a photographer with Marko lurking around?
     
  18. DieHipsterDie

    DieHipsterDie Member

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    Dude, after this experience I may try a double whiskey and coke before I do it again.