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Thread: Does Tape Glow?

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    Does Tape Glow?

    Okay, I file this in the uneasy category of Things That Don't Make Sense But Were Nonetheless Empirically Observed: When separating 120 film from its paper backing in my home darkroom, I would swear I see a faint glow as I pull off the tape.

    Now, there's no explanation I can come up with, unless there's some kind of micro-chemical reaction of the adhesive hitting the air and giving off a tiny puff of luminescence, but I figured I'd ask you guys if I was crazy.

    I think it happens with all film, but the most recent experience and the one I'm surest about was Fuji Neopan Acros. Not so much when I pulled off the paper backing, but when I removed the UPC-code strip of tape at the very end/beginning of the roll, I'm sure I saw something. Total darkness, in my bathroom, with my pupils presumably fully dilated from hanging out in total darkness for the five or so minutes it took to get the film spooled onto the reel up to that point. And no, I have no superhuman powers that I'm aware of.

    Has this happened to you?

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    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Yes, you saw something. There was a discussion on this recently here if you want to search for it. It is caused by the physical action of tearing off the tape...the breaking of the bonds, or something like that. I had thought it was a static discharge, but it is more of a physical/chemical reaction.

    It is bright enough to expose the film, but the affect has always been very local -- limited to the area under the tape.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

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    AgX
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    Triboluminescence

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    My question has always been - is tape onomatopoeia?

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    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    If you remove the tape slowly, the effect is decimated or eliminated.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

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    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Yes there is a faint glow. I think it's static. But it won't ruin your film if the last frame is far enough from the taped portion when you pull the tape of your film.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

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    Nice! Thanks for the reassurance. I did indeed wonder if it could affect the film, if it was real. Static makes more sense than chemistry... and sorry for not spotting the earlier conversation on this.

    Count me astonished that this has actually come up before -- and credit that to the formidable exhaustiveness of this forum.

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    Vaughn's Avatar
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    From Wikipeadia:

    Triboluminescence
    Ordinary Pressure-sensitive tape ("Scotch tape") displays a glowing line where the end of the tape is being pulled away from the roll. In 1953, Soviet scientists first observed that unpeeling a roll of tape in a vacuum produced X-rays.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

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    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Another glowing oddity... I put rubber bands around my reels so the film doesn't come off in my process. New rubber bands straight out of the bag will give off a glow for a short while the first time they are stretched.

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    Re: Does Tape Glow?

    So do the X rays do anything or are they minimal enough that it doesn't matter?

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