I've recently started getting dark edges on most negatives (see photo). I thought it might be a light leak in the camera, but then it happened again with a different camera. Any ideas where I might be mishandling things?
Not bulk loaded, thanks. All film types also. Using steel reels and processing myself. Looking back at recent negatives, it looks like this started maybe 10 rolls ago and seems to be getting worse. The earliest signs look more like drag marks of some kind. A sample is attached.
Indeed, it does seem like it could be caused by the reel interacting with the negative. I was about to dismiss it as a non-issue until I saw the latest negs on the light table. That sure looks like like light leaking _somewhere_ to me. Not sure it matters, but this latest example is on a roll of Delta 3200. Would that not be more susceptible to light leakage than the Tri-X?
On last negatives there are two things IMHO: some light leak AND marks from reels. I get those marks occasionally as well, using steel reels. Maybe it has something to do with film winded tightly on the reel?
Developer reaches the emulsion, fixer not, as the emulsion is already stuck to the reel. Re-fixing should get rid of those edge stripes, at least I have experienced this.
Black beyond the sprocket holes, on the last sample, looks something different to me.
Give them a good scrub and see if there is any difference.
Also, have you noticed any unusual changes in humidity?
I know you said these are steel reels, but if there is residue on the reels and the humidity is high ...
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I agree about the reels. The developer caught between the reel and the film is getting additional agitation, or some such mechanical anomaly. As long as it doesn't extend into the image area, I wouldn't be too worried. Is this a new problem with the same equipment you've been using for some time, or has something changed?