Troubleshooting Negatives

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by handle2001, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    Hi Folks!

    I finally got a Patterson tank and the requisite chemistry in the mail yesterday. I processed one roll of Delta 400 and in my haste I dumped the developer a full minute early, so only half the roll gave me any usable frames, c'est la vie. My second roll was much more successful, and I was able to get 24 usable frames out of it. My question is that when I scanned in the negatives there were several defects and I'm not sure if they're the result of something I'm doing during processing or a problem with the camera itself. I'm using the bog standard processing procedure as laid out in Ilford's "Processing your first B&W Film" document. This is Delta 400 film, and I'm using Ilfotec DD-X at ~21°C for 8 minutes, followed by Ilfostop and Rapid Fixer at the appropriate times for each, then letting the tank sit under a running faucet for 10 minutes. After that the strips are hang-dried over the tub for about an hour.

    First Problem: Negatives are too dark / Positives are washed out and too light. Here's a raw scan:
    delta400-hand2-034-scaled.jpg
    Here's the same negative with the colors inverted in GIMP:
    delta400-hand2-034-scaled-inverted.jpg

    I can't tell if these are underexposed or under-processed? I've only had one roll of film from this camera processed by a camera store, and they did a really terrible job so it's hard to compare.


    Second Problem: Weird black squiggles:
    playground pattern-scaled.jpg

    For this image I inverted the colors, jacked the contrast WAY up, then turned the brightness WAY down, and got this image which is pretty usable, but there are a ton of flaws in it.

    Okay so it makes my pictures come out old and retro looking, but that's not what I was going for. I wanted clean images with no visible grain, and that's clearly not what I got. Part of it I believe is that the 400 speed film is a bit grainier by default than I expected. However I'm not sure why those little squiggles keep showing up. They showed up on the first roll as well. Someone somewhere suggested it might be dirt in the camera? Again I've not used this camera before so I have nothing to compare it with except my other camera which I use to shoot color that gets developed at my local C-41 pharmacy, and it has had no problems. It might be worth it to run a color roll through this camera and have it developed professionally to see if something similar happens. I'm worried though that this is the result of my developing process somehow. The negatives I had done at the photo store did not have these squiggles on them, at least not that I could tell.

    Thanks everyone for your help!
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The negatives that are a bit thick(dark) is a sign of overdevelopment. You can decrease the developing time or temp. It could also be that you over exposed in camera, but the film edges look a bit darker so I assume it's probably over development. Fog is also a possibility with expired or improperly stored film.

    The lines may be scratches in the emulsion as they are black. Dust and dirt would be white when inverted on the computer or wet printed. You would want to check with a loupe. If you don't have one a camera lens filpped works fine, or even a simple magnifying glass.
     
  3. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Over development would result in increased contrast, highlights would increase in density but shadows would not.
    This appears to me to be over exposure. Contrast is not too high (might even be a little flat) and shadows are full also.
    The rebate area looks a bit fogged too, which could confuse the exposure issue and would flatted the effective contrast (shadows would be fogged as well, making over exposure difficult to say for sure).
    Also, one software's "raw scan" may not be the same as another's.
     
  4. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    If it is overexposure, would over-developing help compensate? Someone else also mentioned that temperature could be an issue, which struck a chord because the room I'm developing in is only tangentially heated to around 16-18°C, and it's entirely possible the developer is cooling faster than it should. My next step was going to be processing at that room temperature with the proper time adjustments to avoid major temperature fluctuations.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  6. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Member

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    Yes, it does look fogged. And there are sprocket hole "shadows" visible near the imprints "ILFORD" and "DELTA" that might indicate a general light leak. Which might help explain that apparent fogging. Note that those shadows are also mirrored more faintly directly below on the bottom rebate.

    There is also another fainter sprocket shadow beneath "PROFESSIONAL". Fainter would mean that those frames were wound quicker between exposures, while darker would mean those frames sat in the same place longer between exposures.

    Ken
     
  7. kevs

    kevs Member

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    The 'black squiggles' are dust that was on the film at the time of exposure, which would have stopped light reaching the film. if it were dust on the negatives at time of scanning they would show as white squiggles. It could easily be dust in the camera, in which case clean the film track with a lightly-moistened cloth or fingertip (but DON'T touch the shutter curtains!) or gently blow it out with a can of Kenair, then clean your camera bag or 'never ready' case.

    If the film was bulk-loaded, it's possible that the dust landed on the film during loading. I find it's best to avoid film bulk-loaded by others; it may be cheap but I'd rather have clean negatives - your mileage may vary.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2013
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    There is something else wrong here. If you dumped the dev only one minute early so 7 mins instead of 8 there is no way that by itself this should have resulted in only half the roll giving usable frames. If 8 mins is the recommended Ilford time then 7 mins should give very printable negs albeit a little underdeveloped or maybe not even a little underdeveloped given that 7 mins is probably the time that many users having tested their film decide on.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    If they are over-exposed, then you'd want to decrease the development time. Which is actually a method many of us use regularly.
    If your temp was lower than 20C/68F, then you'd normally need more time to get the same result as at 20C/68F. Chemicals work faster at higher temps. On the Ilford site, there's a chart for temperature compensation. I do remember that if the time for 20C/68F is 9 minutes, then the time for 18C is around 11:15 minutes.

    Personally, the edges look fine to me, so the development was likely alright. Are you also sure you mixed the developer as per the instructions? If the developer was too strong, then less time and a lower temp would all balance out as well.
    I agree that the squiggles look like dust on the film at the time of exposure (they look like cotton to me, though I can't guarantee it).
     
  10. EASmithV

    EASmithV Subscriber

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    How are you scanning? that looks like you used a regular flatbed scanner. You need a scanner that has a transparency adapter to properly scan film.
     
  11. Jim Taylor

    Jim Taylor Member

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    +1 the above.

    When scanning negs with a flatbed scanner, I invert my light box and put it over the top of the negs. Keeps 'em flat, and ensures much better scans that don't need as much digital jiggery-pokery!
     
  12. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    Based on the many excellent suggestions on this thread, I processed another roll at room temperature, which today happened to be 22°C. This roll came out much better I believe, and I was even able to get somewhat usable images out of two *very* overexposed frames where I was experimenting with long exposures. There are still weird black squiggles and lots of dust spots, but I'm pretty sure these are due to dust in the camera when the pictures were taken. I'm working on a roll of Delta 100 in my other camera which has given me flawless color pictures in the past, so hopefully that roll will be less blemished. Here's a sample:
    bread2-scaled.jpg

    dock-scaled.jpg

    mail-scaled-smudged.jpg

    A word about my scanning process, as mentioned above I'm using an Epson Workforce 500 flatbed at 1200 DPI (the max it will do), placing the negatives on the bed, covering them with semi-gloss freezer paper, and then placing a iPad displaying all white on top of this. The results have been usable, as I'm only trying to digitize these photos to share with friends online. I'll make prints the old-fashioned way sometime in the future.
     
  13. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    A question, could all those spots and squiggles be from a dirty lens?
     
  14. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    They wouldn't be that sharp if they were on the lens.
     
  15. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Do you have a loupe to check the negatives? If not a 50mm lens can work as well. See if the squiggles are on the film. My assumption is they are since they would be white if it was dust during scanning. The fact that they are sharp makes it look like dust on the film. Have you looked at the inside of the camera? is it clean? Are you using bulk loaded or factory loaded film?
     
  16. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    I'm goin' with a dirty camera for the moment for the dust. As suggested, a good cleaning might help, but I would use compressed air or a rubber air blaster (be careful for liquid stuff being expelled). Lens off, mirror up, open the back, where the film is, etc. I do mine occasionally and never have this kind of dust.
    It's too hard from your postings to tell about exposure and development - I think you need to print on a normal (grade 2 - 3) paper and go from there. Your negs have to work in your darkroom with your chems, paper, and techniques (and to your taste). If you graze around this forum, you'll find a lot of information, and, as Bethe said, the Ilford site has a lot of "getting started" info.
    Also, Ken made good observations about the possible fog. Try another camera to eliminate this, and see if the rebate area is different.
    I would also recommend only one film and developer until things start getting predictable.
     
  17. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    I'm using factory loaded Ilford Delta 400. The camera looks clean inside, but can anyone recommend a safe cleaning method just in case?
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the dust and squiggles are due to your rather unorthodox scanning method.

    Try scanning the freezer paper with just some clear, unexposed film, and see what you get.
     
  19. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Agree. I'd try it without any film... then without the freezer paper...

    In my experience, traditional films look much grainier scanned with a flatbed (I use a Epson 1640) than printed.
     
  20. handle2001

    handle2001 Member

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    dirty scanner.jpg

    Case closed. I don't have a loupe but examining the negatives against a light they looks much better than the scans would indicate. Again I'm not that upset since these are just destined for Facebook and Tumblr until I can get into a darkroom, but I'm glad to know it isn't a problem with my camera!

    Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions! I've now processed four rolls of film and am getting the hang of that part of it at least. This hobby is too much fun!