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  1. #1
    M Carter's Avatar
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    Processing 120 - streaks & ghosts

    I've been returning to the darkroom after 10+ years away, and processing 120 for the first time ever.

    In the days of film the B&W printing was more of a "utility" thing for me, my work was all commercial stuff, E6 for the most part. Now I'm shooting a lot of test charts, trying to settle on film, developer, time, & ISO for a project where I want some grain. 35 has been fine, but the 120's been a little challenging.

    Here's a scan from a 1-hour stand (couple inversions at 30:00), a process many people have posted as their go-to. I got some odd streaking in areas of high contrast:

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    (I've enhanced that a bit). I understand this to be (insert technical word for "you didn't agitate it enough"). That's fine, the negs from stand have looked a little flat and the blacks were pretty weak, at all the reasonable brackets. Moved on to standard processing times, agitation and temps.

    I'm seeing this though, on the negs and the prints (so it's not an enlarger issue). It looks like it could be camera shake, since it's real specific... these were shot at 1/30th with an old RB proS.

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    If you look at the "D" and the "P", the open spaces in the letters are open in the ghost image - seems like streaking from processing would be less distinct? Or in this image, the shape of the white box is very distinct, as are the straight lines on top:

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    Could that be processing or something mechanical? I'm thinking of running a pack of polaroid through at various shutter speeds - may be too small to see in that case though, but that would be pretty quick and FP3000 does hold some good detail.

    Other than that, I've found a speed & processing setup that's giving me a wide gamut, deep blacks and a good tonal range - on the negative. I'm using a digital color test strip (all I have right now - it has 11 chips from black to white).

    On the negs, every square has a distinct tone, from solid black to pure white - on paper (grade 2) the last two whites are coming out the same (that is, the 2 brightest tones are both printing as white - does paper simply have less tonal range than film? At this point I'm trying for a full tonal range on test cards with a grade #2 filter.

    Paper: Ilford MGIV RC (Because it's cheap - I seem to be blowing through a lot of paper & film...)
    Film: HP5+
    Dev: Rodinal

    Thanks guys, for any thoughts.

  2. #2

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    I think you have multiple things going on there....

    My "go to" method is exactly as what Kodak says on its technical reference documentation for D-76. (because that's what I use) Inversions every 30 seconds. I think, though, the second image IS showing camera shake. Shake as a result of mirror slap, maybe?

    I am not sure where you heard stand development is the "go to" method. If you want to debug your system, my suggestion would be to develop as the manufacturer specifies.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  3. #3

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    That`s what stand does. No film manufacturer recommends or even talks about it. believe me they want you to get the best from their products.

    There are a lot of falsehoods and ill informed people on the internet.

    Agitation brings fresh developer to the surface of the emulsion. If this is not done, then the byproducts like bromide remain and the film is streaked.

    The other big falsehood running around is surge marks. Actually they are marks where there is insufficient agitation. So you try more gentle agitation in an attempt to cure it and the problem gets worse.

    Go back and do 30 seconds on immersion and 2 every 30 seconds or 30 on immersion + 4 every 60 taking 10 sec. Once per minute will require 10% more time all else being equal. Do not overload the tank with developer as the liquid must move.

    I will refer you to Kodak or Ilford site to verify their professional instructions which are the same as mine.

  4. #4
    M Carter's Avatar
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    Thanks guys - but to clarify -

    The first image was 60 minutes, with agitation at 30 mins. - what some people are calling "semi-stand". I've found numerous posts (with scanned examples) where people use this with Rodinal successfully, many of them considering it their favorite process. I've used it on 35 and gotten some nice results. I felt it looked too flat. (And as I mentioned above, I felt the streaking came from lack of agitation). (And for 35, I like how the semi-stand can work to tame contrast). I'm quite willing to try about anything (HP5+ in Dektol paper developer is really kind of cool, for instance).

    As I mentioned in the OP, I went to a more "recommended' or standard method - the 2nd two images were done as follows:

    Rodinal 50+1, 20c;
    11 minutes (film rated 400);
    Agitation 1st 30 secs; 5 seconds every minute; and final 30 seconds. 8 seconds to pour.

    Agitation:

    My tank can take 2 35's or 1 120 reel; I need to make a spacer to keep the 120 reel at the bottom of the tank (so it won't pump up & down). Instead of inversions, I swirled the tank - sort of an almost-complete inversion. That's something I've done for years (when the lid of my older tank leaked too much to fully invert it). I do this for 5 seconds every minute. Though the reel doesn't go fully upside-down, I feel like it's getting plenty of agitation. But no air hits the film this way, as it would with an almost-full tank being fully inverted.

    My main question was more of "can processing errors produce something that looks more like a ghost image than a smear". I can't think of a way that it could.

    I'll do some tests for camera shake - the last I used that RB was for fashion catalogue work 10-15 years ago which was strobes and higher shutter speeds. I just re-foamed the whole thing so it's properly damped... but that is one big-ass mirror...

    And wondering still - can paper be expected to reproduce all the tonality of a neg? I assume paper's tonal range is lower than film (at least it was in my E6 days).

    Thanks for commenting - MC

  5. #5
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Paper has a much shorter range than the full range of a negative, and that range gets even shorter the higher the grade of paper you use. On the other hand, the range of what you photograph under most common conditions, using common materials, will fit into the paper range fairly well. In other words, you would not be needing the full range of the negative to represent typical scenes.

    The fun starts when you realise that we rarely photograph typical scenes or if you want to use materials more creatively.

    If this interest you, may I suggest you seek out great posts by Stephen Benskin and Bill Burk on this forum, many going into the matter of materials testing and fitting paper ranges to negatives, development times, and the entire subject of the tone reproduction process. Enjoy!
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  6. #6

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    I took a liberty of downloading your second image, import it, enhance the contrast, and manipulate the tones. I can clearly see the letters doubled. It's a shake of some kind.

    I am not certain what your first image is showing. But, I can fairly confidently say, your second image is showing camera motion during exposure.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails test2-shake.jpg  
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  7. #7
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    What you have is a classic case of bromide drag. This is the result of underagitation. It can also be caused by the wrong developer for the conditions.

    Bromide is an antifoggant and is heavy so it drifts downwards and restrains the development in a path down from dark areas. OTOH, some development byproducts either speed up or slow down development and they too can alter development in ghostly patterns. Agitation disperses any and all of these byproducts and prevents them from causing the marks you are seeing.

    Stand can be done, but it is an art that is learned just like any other art.

    PE

  8. #8
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    Processing 120 - streaks & ghosts

    In my limited stand development experience I've found the first 3-5 minutes to be kind of more crucial. I would make sure to pre-wet for a good 3 minutes, then agitate for 30 seconds, then once for 10 seconds at 3 minutes and again for 10 full seconds at 5 minutes THEN walk away for 20 minutes, then invert once and swirl (with the wrist not stick) then set down, then again at 40 minutes and then the last 3 minutes agitate again 10 seconds then sit a minute then again for 10 seconds sit another minute the. Stop Bath etc etc.

    I never use the swirl stick, always full inversions, I always have uneven development with the swirl stick, always...

    The above is with Rodinal 1:100 for one hour. I first did this with C-41 films am now with traditional B&W films. If you want some grain perhaps the C-41 method is something to look into. Check my threads for the C-41 cross processed in B&W thread to see examples.

    Good luck!


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

  9. #9
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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    Processing 120 - streaks & ghosts

    I've done stand developing for quite a while, and have never faced a bromide drag problem. I find the solution to be thorough agitation, when you do agitate.

    Following a pre-wash, I agitate well for the first 10-15 secs. of development, then again halfway through the hour, then just a bit just before the timer goes off at the end of the hour and I start to pour it out.

    Mind you, stand development is not a substitute for "proper" developing. I use it to tame high-contrast, sunny scenes only, since by nature it does tend to flatten out the contrast (which is the whole point of stand developing anyway).

  10. #10
    M Carter's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies everyone.

    But images 2 and 3 - I had trouble wrapping my mind around bromide drag "printing" such a sharp image. Got out the polaroid back and some FP3000.

    That particular lens does indeed have shutter issues that will require hospitalization. Sticking open too long or staying open until the shutter is re-cocked. (Anyone know a good Mamiya repair guy??)

    I get it that there's some 'anti-stand' sentiment amongst the purists, but trying all of these things teaches me monumentally more than reading about them. After shooting commercially for decades (primarily E6 and now digital) I'm still in pleasant shock regarding the possibilities of B&W negs & processing. (I came up as an art director with just high school photo classes and learned much of what I know on-set - started shooting in my garage to save $$ on my freelance work and within a few years had a studio and was shooting for national brands - never got the college-level photo education!) I told my wife last night, "Lighting and composition, yeah, I'm a 51 year old commercial shooter... E6, used to have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of exposure and proofing - B&W and I'm 20 again". I always thought the "Zone System" had to do with football...

    So, I'm trying to do this right, and focusing on the availability of a wide tonal range without relying on printing filters as a basis. This much new info should stave off alzheimer's for a couple years at least! And this forum's freakin' priceless. Thanks again.

    (Now if i can just get that lens fixed... it paid a lot of rent in the 90's...)

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