Stupid Film Developing Problems - Again!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Thomas Bertilsson, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I'm getting really fricken sick of this. Every time, without failure, that I take a photo trip somewhere; every time that I get a chance to just be with myself and my camera and I can really create - I get film developing problems.

    Granted, in the past I have used expired film, etc, but this time I was armed to the teeth with fresh Tri-X and Plus-X film. Camera checked out days before with both film backs, no problems. None.

    So then I get back from a trip to Lake Superior, 19 rolls later, and i end up with uneven development issues, negatives dense like bulletproof kevlar vests...
    But this one wins the grand slam - some kind of line that has higher density than the surrounding areas that goes the entire length of the film, about 1/3" or so from the film edge. It's a tad irregular. It's on the last three rolls I have processed from a certain place where I had gone through and tested a different developer for the film, HC-110, before I processed the film. I exposed an entire roll and tested it, then I exposed one more and tested it too, just to be sure. Squeaky clean negatives.
    Then I develop the stuff from the trip exactly the same way - 8 minutes at 1+50 from syrup, agitate every 30 seconds for 5 seconds. 70*F water. The densities of the negs are great. Please look at the neg and see if you can identify what that line is.

    I am so effing sick of having these problems I'm thinking about just hanging up my hat and quitting this. I am so frustrated I am ready to take my equipment and just give it away and walk away. Fed up.

    I mix the chemicals with either distilled water or boiled tap water that's been cooled off, or a mixture thereof. Stop bath is fresh (indicator) and fix clears a film strip in 30 seconds.

    I have tried all kinds of chemistry, distilled or boiled water, different agitation. When I cured the uneven development problem, it's automatic that another one would show up. Like fucking clock work.

    I'm at my wits end. Don't know what to do.
     

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  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Sorry, I can feel your pain but probably can't help much. It's odd as it's kind of a curved line, and is that other shorter line near it at the bottom part of the same problem?
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yes, the little line is the same problem for sure.

    Thanks.
     
  4. david b

    david b Member

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    Hey Thomas,
    I went through 2008 the same way. The whole f*cking year.

    I am using jobo tanks and had air bells/bubbles. Then I started filling the tank to the very top
    and the bubbles went away. The tank says to put in 975ml and I put in about 1200ml.

    Stay with it. I feel your pain.
     
  5. trexx

    trexx Member

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    What does boiling do for you? I would think it just concentrates anything in the tap water. Now it you have a still, alright. Nor do I think it is your problem.

    I could be completely off base , but from your other post I have thought the marks to be a pinch roller or something very similar. Something in the camera. Maybe you take a set of pictures in a row and a roller binds causing the problem.

    It it is fairly repeatable I would suggest having someone else develop a roll, I'll volunteer. Try several sources. You need to isolate is it processing or elsewhere.

    TR
     
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  6. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Hi Thomas
    Could it be a problem with your wetting agent (if you are using one)? I occasionally got similar(ish) marks which seemed to have been caused by the way the water/PhotoFlo solution was running down and drying on the hanging negs. Adding Isopropyl alcohol to the mix, as Les McLean once suggested somewhere, seemed to sort out my issue. Just a thought, but of course your issue may be unrelated...
    Ian
     
  7. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I pre soak then develop but I put a couple of drops of Edwal LFN wetting agent in the developer. Like it says:

    Low foam, wetting agent. Just two drops of super-low-foaming, non-ionic LFN in a pint of developer, will prevent air bubbles and floating dust particles from causing pinholes; just two drops per pint of water for us as a film rinse, will prevent water spots, hanging film will drain evenly and completely.

    This works and has worked for me for a long time, I discovered it in the 1970's. If you haven't or don't use it give it a try.
     
  8. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    FWIW, over the years, the greatest single source of uneven development and other development problems I have seen, or tried to figure out for people, has been with rotary tanks and roller systems.

    Also, fwiw, for my own (rarely) critical roll film work, I use reels, lifting rods and deep tanks. It means sitting in the dark listening to Mozart and Bach; but there are very few surprises.
     
  9. PVia

    PVia Member

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    If you hold the negs up to a light you can see if it's something that's dried on them.

    You do presoak, don't you...please tell me you do.

    Also, don't rule out camera problems here...

    Thomas, I'm so sorry you're having these problems...if you send me a roll I'll process it for you.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Boiling water will de-gas it. Like David I've had problems with air bells in the developer. A problem that persists, but gets decimated by boiling the water and then cooling it off again.
    I processed three rolls of 35mm film just hours prior to the important stuff, and they came out perfect, without a hint of a problem.
    I do fill the tank to the rim. 1,700ml, which leaves a little bit of room on top to agitate.

    The thing that kills me is that this isn't exactly rocket science. Mix developer, stir well, pour into tank, agitate, time it, stop, fix, wash and hang to dry. This is simple. If I could even get just decent negatives without anomalies I'd be OK. Instead I have excellent negatives with a fundamental flaw that prevents me from using it all together. It's kind of like somebody that writes a book, and as they hit the printer button to print it out the file gets corrupt beyond repair.

    This has been an ongoing issue for me since 2006. I have very little money to get around, and have struggled for a long time to support my hobby. When I do get a little bit extra to stick in a photography trip, I get slapped in the face with this crap. Hence the 'giving it up' sentiments. I really am fed up. I have tried every trick in the book and then some. I am pretty sure that there isn't a single technique out there that I haven't tried. I've had trouble with both 120 rolls and sheet film in different ways. I invested a fortune (for me anyway) in a new 4x5 camera and a really nice Schneider lens. Until I got the Uniroller drum system figured out I couldn't manage a single negative to be evenly developed out of several hundred. Then when the negatives were finally evenly developed I got pinholes instead.
    I really am beginning to think that I'm cursed with this, that somebody in a position to mess with my film is doing everything they can to make me want to quit. I'm serious. I can't win.

    I'm going to head to bed, and sleep on it. Tomorrow I'll decide what I want to do.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Hey, no I don't presoak. I did for years, but it doesn't seem to do a bit of difference. I actually think neither Ilford or Kodak recommends pre-soaking.
    Thanks for the offers of processing film for me, I really do appreciate them.

    I'm not trying to sound negative. Promise. I'm just really angry.
     
  12. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Thomas
    It is hard to see really clearly from your scan, but the more I looked at it the more I thought it looked like the problems I used to have. I just went and dug out and quickly scanned an old neg which exhibits the problem. I attach the relevant part of the scan here (please excuse dust spots). Looks pretty similar, don't you reckon?
    These marks were caused by my wetting agent solution as the film was hanging to dry. There is the long straight line running right down the neg (and which continues in a straight line right down the whole strip) plus the smaller tide-mark pattern on the bottom of the neg. I think the problem is generally too much Flo, although I think too little can also cause problems. What is exactly the right amount seems to vary depending upon water supply. So if the water supply/quality changes, one's usual Flo quantity may start to cause problems. As I said in my previous post above, putting a splash of Isopropyl Alcohol in the wetting agent solution with only a very small amount of Flo seems to fix the problem.
    Again, I don't know if this is your problem, but it at least looks like a contender... Don't smash up your gear yet!

    The sort of drying marks I am talking about are effectively in the emulsion. You cannot really see anything dried on the surface of the emulsion, although occasionally there are other drying marks on the backing that can be cleaned off. The marks in the emulsion cannot be removed.

    I found the following in a book by Eddie Ephraums (Creative Elements):
    "The surface tension won't be broken if too little wetting agent is added. Too much agent and the water tends to become slightly viscous, drying in rivulets that leave longitudinal drying marks within the emulsion and greasy-looking streaks on the film backing. The latter can be polished off - gently - with a cotton bud or similar."

    I don't presoak roll film - I don't think it is necessary.
     

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  13. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Very strange problems that I've can't ever remember experiencing over decades, whether B/W or colour negs 35mm or 120, I've used limey (well I'm from the UK) tap water all the time, just filled a Paterson or Jobo tank with solution, banged the tank on the table at start to help remove air bubbles and then just stirred (not inverted) back and forwards, not too vigorously at the begining for about 10 secs, then gently stirred every minute for about 5 secs (that's for about 10 min dev time)...... and any limey stains, even after a final wash with a drop of standby concentrated liquid soap can be polished off with hot breath and clean material.
    All I can add is:- Know your developer and develope in a consistent way.
     
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  15. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Ian, that's interesting, and pretty much similar if not identical to what I'm seeing.

    What I have been doing with my film lately (for the past couple of months at least) is to soak it overnight in distilled water. I make sure to agitate out all of the air bubbles, then do that again five minutes later, and then I just let my film sit until the morning. When I remove the film I just hang it up - without using PhotoFlo. My theory was that since distilled water is pure, no mineral drying marks can be left behind. It worked flawlessly for at least 20 rolls, as far as drying marks go, but I guess these rolls were the ones to prove me wrong. With important rolls of film, like clockwork.

    The reason I stepped away from PhotoFlo was that I never could get it just right. Too little - no effect (didn't break the surface tension as mentioned by Ian in his quote above), or too much and it would get this slight foam that would leave drying marks in the shape of air bubbles instead.

    Having slept on it, I'm still mad... Out of 19 rolls from this trip, about five have come out OK, without a problem.

    I should try PhotoFlo again, I guess. Is there any other wetting agent out there? I saw some Sprint 'End of Run', but you have to use that with film squeegee sponges, and I'm afraid of using that. Don't want it to scratch my film.

    Ian, your post is somewhat a breakthrough, so we're on the right track. Thanks for your keen eye and observational skill.

    - Thomas
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Are you suggesting, then Thomas, that the perfect rolls you did as a test were not soaked overnight?

    For myself, I have NEVER heard of soaking film that long intentionally. I did it once or twice with rolls I left in the wash water after development and fixing. I just trashed them.

    What, prithee tell, causes you to think that film needs to be soaked overnight before developing?
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Hi John,

    I soaked all test films overnight in distilled water. I figured that any remnants in the film would definitely be leached out of the film. And it did work for all the other films (20 or so) until these three.

    What, kind sir, causes you to believe it would do any damage?

    - Thomas
     
  18. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Thomas

    Wetting agent scum problem as others suggest, if it is on the emulsions side yours screwed, if it is on the base side you can get it off.

    we uses 2 litres of distilled water in a graduate. small amount of kodak wetting agent mix well and then hold both ends of the film and see saw the film through for a few swipes and then hold at an angle to rapidly remove the liquid and then into a warm clean dryer.

    this is one of the most common problem with wetting agents and you need to have a method that works well for you. and then stick with it. we always top off the graduate.
    Last week we did 100rolls of 35 mm and out of all the film in a day and we did get a few areas of this shit, luckily it was on the base side and were able to get it off.
    this is something we really look at first if we see plus density on prints. Telling you how frustrating it can be would be pointless as you are obviously very pissed, but I really think its a matter of some form of deposit left on the film and it basically points only in one direction. Not using a wetting agent will incur the rath of the water spot gods , which are even worse to remove.

    Minus density on prints are usually attributed to insufficient agitation in the first 15 seconds of development or not enough chem in the container.
    I have been seeing a lot of this in recent past on this forum and it really IMO boils down to insufficient agitation to get a even flow on the surface of the film.
    I see a lot of talk for stand develop, and I shudder to think how this works with grey backgrounds, but since I do not use this method,*I use Jobo* I may be missing something that others have solved.

    You make prints like a lot of others on this forum, when a print is first put in a paper tray , if you do not agitate the results are obvious, I suggest the same thing is happening in film, if the chems do not evenly spread on the surface of the film , trying to get even nuetral shades of grey would be as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.


    If you look closely at the film you should be able to barely percieve the scum
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Actually, now that I think about it, I lied a little bit. Not all films have been soaked the entire duration overnight. Some were just a couple of hours. Didn't seem to matter, though.
     
  21. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    My experience is that the emulsion soon floats off the film. The overnight soak may be causing all sorts of strange artifacts.

    Try PhotoFlo with a splash of isopropyl alcohol (I make a stock of 1:10 photoflo to alcohol, dilute 1:20 with distilled water for use). I wet my fingers in the PF and run the film lightly between two fingers as a 'squeegie'.

    The odd bubbly marks look like air bubbles trapped under the film reel. How are you processing the 120 - tall tanks, short tanks, plastic reels, metal reels, rotary?
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Thanks Bob.

    By using distilled water I thought I could omit wetting agent. Since distilled water is so pure I was under the impression no 'bad things' would be left behind. No mineral, no nothing. Just clear up and disappear.
    It proves then that distilled water isn't pure, and that it does leave stuff behind. Back to the wetting agent dilemma.

    Your theory of even development sounds perfectly sound. Since I started agitating more often, I got rid of the uneven development problems. Some suggest to me that plastic reels are mad to use. I'm going to try stainless next, just to see. But only on test rolls.

    Thanks,

    - Thomas
     
  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Nicholas,

    Thanks for chiming in. I process in Paterson tanks with plastic reels. I've heard the argument for isopropyl alcohol many times. I may try it.

    The air bells along the edge of the film don't bother me. I compensate for that usually when I shoot, as I am yet to find a way to get around that problem. I've even tried distilled water and brand spanking new reels, and I still get the air bell problem. I just crop it out.

    When I can afford to pick up stainless steel reels I will.

    Process: I lower the film reels into the tank, which is already full of chemistry. Then I seal the tank, start the timer, and agitate first minute by rolling the tank on the floor. Back and forth, gently.
    Then I either agitate every 30s, 1m, or 2m depending on what the contrast was in the scene.
    This roll was HC-110 at 1+50 dilution, 70*F, for 8min, agitate every 30s. Stop, fix, wash, soak, hang to dry.

    - Thomas
     
  24. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ****but I really think its a matter of some form of deposit left on the film and it basically points only in one direction. Not using a wetting agent will incur the rath of the water spot gods , which are even worse to remove.***

    erm can't you re-wash the neg?...I did this recently with some of my very old negs with so much muck on them and had no problems, but would agree something like a chemical stain would be practically impossible.
     
  25. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Well in my experience , rewashing film did not remove water spots, but It was almost 19 years ago when I started processing film for clients. Since then we have designed a system for film production that over the years has proven itself to be workable for us, which may be different for other locations .
    We have seen the dreaded, water marks, flow marks, plus density , minus density, Pyro exhaustion, and a few years ago the worst problem, road ruts in 120 film that almost forced us to stop processing.
    All of these problem have shown up at different times and with different operators . We have processed thousands of film runs in that period and occasionally ugly problems do occur but are generally solvable.* not sure how many rolls that equates to as we run 35mm up to 16x20 film , but it has been a lot of film.
    I had to move to Jobo in 1994 as I could not keep anyone , and I mean anyone in a small stinky room basket running film *who could blame them*.
    We were getting so much difference in film runs that boiled down to a pissed off employee agitating the crap out of film to a point that made the film un printable that I needed to move to a different system.
    Even then we have had to make adjustments to the roller system.

    One last note or observation.. We have seen a huge drop in film over the last 8 years, going from 100-200 rolls a day 7 days a week in the early 90's to now lucky if we run 200 rolls a month.
    One thing I have noticed is people giving us film that is bought cheap and probably way outdated and stored improperly.
    This new groupings of film are giving us all kinds of hassels to the point of the film being to curly to load on the reels.
    We have taken the position now not to run any of this film and we try to make sure people still working with us are buying fresh dated film so that problems are minimal to none.



     
  26. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    If the deposits are on the base side, you can just wipe it off. If it's on the base side - you're screwed. I have no fact to back this up, but I believe the stains become embedded in the gelatin of the emulsion. It won't wash out. I've tried.

    Thank you for your suggestion!

    - Thomas