What just happened??
So I've now processed 4 rolls of B&W film (3 HP5, 1 FP4). The three previous turned out fine. This last roll, which I developed myself yesterday, has been a real PITA.
I've had some issues with the previous rolls with water marks, but nothing to the degree from this last roll. It seems like blobs of water just dry right on the film. I usually just re-rinse and everything's a-ok. This roll kept re-drying with marks all over again. Needless to say, it's been very frustrating.
So I figured out that it may be due to the water being very hard and the chemicals in the water leaving a residue. So, I've tried some distilled water instead. The blobs are mostly gone, but I've noticed another issue when scanning and I can see it on the negatives too. It looks like a permanent water mark or some sort of damage. I admit I wasn't looking to closely at the time, but when I first released the film from the spiral, I didn't notice such marks. It must have been from subsequent re-rinses. Are the negs screwed or is there any way to fix it? Should I re-soak in Ilfotol wetting agent? Perhaps more importantly, is there a way to avoid this in the future?
Full disclosure: on some of the re-rinses, I didn't use a squeegee and in lieu of that, sometimes I just wiped excess water with my fingers (rubber gloves on).
Pardon the flatness, occasional dust, here are some scans that I just did within the past half hour exemplifying what I'm talking about. I know they're not all award winning photos :).
This one is really obvious and bad:
Edit: I should also add these two possible causes. I was a bit reckless in hindsight with the roll. First, I thought the strips were dried, but didn't look close enough on a few and tried sliding them in PrintFiles, which didn't really work and made the negatives sorta stick and made it difficult to take out.
Because I was re-rinsing them after I had already cut them, I had to rehang them on clips side by side. I tried to ensure they wouldn't touch each other, but sometimes they did.
I'm thinking that the really wierd, scaly sorts of effects may very well be due to trying to insert damp negatives into Printfile sheets.
Originally Posted by h.v.
The rest of the problems - most likely due to "hard" water and drying in the sort of dry, potentially dusty air that is much more common in January in Alberta then what we have here on the wet coast.
What just happened??
That pattern on the first image indicates reticulation. The same pattern was created when one of my students had run very hot water for atleast 5-10 minutes through the film washer and when he checked he immediately turned on the cold water and shutting off the hot water flow so it ran cold. Kinda interesting though when enlarged.
Okay, so I could definitely see it being either of those things. When removing the wet negatives from the PrintFile, they stuck a bit and I had to pull hard to get it to budge. When I initially rinsed after development for 7 1/2 minutes, I used about 20°C as recommended. Today during re-rinses, I didn't use a thermometre and the water was warm, warmer than usual. From playing with the water temp before developing to get things right, I'd guess it was over 35°C, though I can't be sure. Any idea to tell exactly which it was?
I guess I'll know for next time to be 100% sure that the negatives are dry and if I need to re-rinse, that I check the temperature. Is there anything else it could be?
Yeah the hard water is an issue in Alberta. The water marks are really irking me. The distilled re-rinse helped 90% of it, but some still remains. I'm guessing next time if I combine final rinse with Ilfotol it should get rid of 99%. Ironically, I haven't had dust issues. My lab processed negatives are often dusty, but mine aren't. It helps I think that I chose the least dusty room in the place and ensure there is minimal movement in the room when the film is drying.
Thanks for the help so far guys. This has reassured me, I was a bit paranoid about shooting more b&w. It is weird though - on re-rinses on previous rolls, I didn't check temp either and no scaley reticulations occurred.
It may also be worth noting that the first 9 frames are without this issue. After that, it starts getting ugly. Those first 9 frames I think I only re-washed once and then let them dry and put them in sleeves. They still have some water marks that only show up in some scans. But I only ended up re-washing the other strips.
I too have very hard water. For both color and b&w processing I find it necessary to use film sponges and carefully remove the excess rinse even when using distilled water for the photoflo last rinse following the wash. If I remove as much as possible leaving only a few drops, then I get a clean dry and have had no problems with debris or scratching. You must use very clean carefully stored photo-grade sponges moved slowly down the film following both sides, usually in two passes to eliminate drops. My sponges are wetted with either photoflo or stabilizer (I usually use stabilizer for b&w too), and then sqeezed out as much as possible before wiping the film to dry.
Using distilled water or stabilizer alone and leaving the film to dry is not sufficient because there are water spots left from the few places where the film surface retains moisture. However, I never got drying spots on the emulsion side; only on the film base. In the old days when there was a drying mark on the film base that would show up in printing, the news-room cure was "nose grease." Anybody else remember those days?
Try the following:
1) an initial rinse, after washing, using distilled water, followed by
2) using some isopropyl alcohol in your Photo-flo + distilled water final rinse.
I mix my final rinse as follows 1 part Photo-flo + 7 parts (70%) isopropyl alcohol + 192 parts water.
The easiest way to do this is to first make up 8 ounces of a "stock" solution of 1 part Photo-flo + 7 parts (70%) isopropyl alcohol (it keeps) and then dilute that stock solution immediately before use - 1 part stock + 24 parts water.
Those are not (water-)drying marks, they're damage to the emulsion. Could be reticulation but I've never seen it that bad or patchy on good (Ilford) film like that - you'd have to have HUGE temperature swings to cause it.
I would suspect the films touching each other while drying as the most likely culprit. Sticking emulsion to PrintFile sleeves could also have that effect.
Reticulation has a very distinctive pattern and first photo seems to display this.
If you have very hard water a final rinse in distilled/de-ionized water with 2 to 3 drops of Photo-Flo per 250 ml of water is recommended.
The water marks don't really show up on the photos I posted. I know that isn't water markings because it appears etched onto the negative itself and won't come off with another rinse. You guys keep mentioning Photo-Flo, but I mentioned using Ilfotol...this'll work too? I use a tablespoon of it in a final rinse of 300ml. The past 4 X have been with tap water (which in the Canadian winter will be hard water), but next time will be with distilled water at 20C.
The film sponge and alcohol are good ideas. I will definitely look into them. Would this work? I'm going to shoot another HP5 and process this weekend and will try the distilled water thing in the meantime.
It probably was due in part to huge temp swings. My home is generally at 21°C. Initial rinse was at about 20°C. Subsequent re-rinses were generally I'm guessing above 35°C, but I'd often run water over the negative right after turning on the water before it warmed up. So it could've been exposed to a temp change between 10°C and 40°C, then brought back down to 21°C at room temperature. I know now to make sure if I do re-rinse, to test the temp beforehand.
It seems like the 1st and 3rd images would be indication of temperature swings, the middle one more of getting stuck to the PrintFile, no?
This whole B&W processing has definitely been a wacky learning experience...just another thing to learn from I suppose. I was recommended today in lieu of these issues that I probably should continue to send anything very important to the lab until I've processed about 10 rolls and the initial learning phase should be over. I think that's good advice to go on. At least not all is lost from that day, half of it was shot on a remaining roll of FP4 and that turned out fine (minus occasional water marks).