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  1. #1

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    HUGE Mistake, no damage to film!

    I almost had my very first film catastrophe, and I am not quite sure why it did not turn out that way. Let me explain.

    I load my film (always 120 size) onto the reels in my closet with the lights turned out. I pull the shades in my bedroom, making that room as dark as I can get it. Then I (normally) close the bedroom door and the bathroom door. With that done, I then step into the closet and close the closet door and turn out the lights to load the film.

    Last time, I did not close my bedroom door.

    Because of this, my wife was not aware that I was loading film onto the reels. I was in the closet, with one reel loaded (but not in the tank) and working on the second reel when my wife came into the bed room and flipped the lights on.

    My closet has a frosted window in the door, maybe 6 inches wide, by 3 feet tall. Also, the door by itself does not block light at the hinges or the jam.

    Once my wife turned on the lights, the bedroom lights shone through this frosted window and I could clearly see the contents of the closet. I yelled at her to turn off the lights and she did immediately. I figured that the damage was done, my two rolls of film were ruined.

    I ALMOST chucked them into the garbage by opening up the closet door, but I finished loading them into the Paterson tank.

    Pissed off, I still developed them and when the time came to pull the film off the reels I was stunned to see NO DAMAGE of any kind to the film at all. Nothing. The negatives looked great.

    I am stunned that there was not any light damage to the film. Both strips of film were fully outside the tank when the lights were flipped on. I guess I was helped that the film was low speed, Acros 100. I am guessing that the film was clearly in my shadow and not hit directly by the light. But even given that, I would have bet anything that the film would collect light and damage the images that were exposed.

    But it didnt happen, and a serious lesson was learned.

    I must have developed 50-60 rolls so far, without any noticeable errors. This was almost the end of my long winning streak!

    But why didnt the film get ruined by this blast of light??

  2. #2

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    You were just lucky. Reminds me of the old saying "there is no brighter light source than the crack under the darkroom door".

  3. #3
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    I have a somewhat similar experience as well.. Few months ago, I was developing some 4x5 film using an open tank at a local high school(they have nice equipment there and I knew the teacher). All the time during unloading the film holders and loading it on the metal hangers and in the developer, there was a blinking light right above where I was developing from the fire/smoke detector. It was pretty bright and blinked about every 20 seconds. How bright? Every time it blinked(maybe 1/10 sec) , I can see my surroundings clearly. When I was developing my first few sheets in there, I thought the film would be ruined, but the film turned out perfectly fine. (I'm still developing in there today because of all the nice equipment &#128516. Another time, I had to run out of the darkroom to grab something real quick when the film was only 10-20 sec into the fix. I thought the film was ruined as well, but once again, it turned out fine.. I could not explain this as well.. Maybe some else will.. Or maybe film has some sort of magical power that it wouldn't be sensitive to light anymore once it has been exposed the first time


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  4. #4
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Light is directional. And film on a reel tends to block light on the outside from reaching the inside.

    But luck is important too!

    There also may have been a low level of fog, that isn't easily apparent to the eye, but still affects contrast.

    I've learned with my bathroom darkroom that even if I can detect where the door edges are, as long as the light isn't streaming in, the room is usable.
    Matt

    “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

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziyanglai View Post
    I Another time, I had to run out of the darkroom to grab something real quick when the film was only 10-20 sec into the fix. I thought the film was ruined as well, but once again, it turned out fine.. I could not explain this as well.. Maybe some else will.. Or maybe film has some sort of magical power that it wouldn't be sensitive to light anymore once it has been exposed the first time


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    Did you rinse well or use a stop bath after developer? If so, there is essentially no reducing agent left in and on the emulsion, so even if the film is exposed to light at that stage, the exposed silver halides have no way of developing, so the fixer transforms them anyway into something that will wash away in the wash.

    Research the BTZS approach - many turn the lights on when the film is in stop bath.
    Matt

    “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

  6. #6
    ziyanglai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    Did you rinse well or use a stop bath after developer? If so, there is essentially no reducing agent left in and on the emulsion, so even if the film is exposed to light at that stage, the exposed silver halides have no way of developing, so the fixer transforms them anyway into something that will wash away in the wash.

    Research the BTZS approach - many turn the lights on when the film is in stop bath.
    I use water as a stop bath. The film was in water for 1-2 minutes and then into the fixer.


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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ziyanglai View Post
    Or maybe film has some sort of magical power that it wouldn't be sensitive to light anymore once it has been exposed the first time
    Acidic stop bath and/or fixer will arrest development immediately, within milliseconds. Developer is not active at low pH, and even though some of it might still be in the emulsion, the pH drop will prevent it from doing any further development.

    A water wash instead of stop bath is not quite the same, and especially low density areas will show light damage if the film is exposed during the initial washing cycle. I routinely take off the tank cover once the fixer has been added, but not before, as I use water wash instead of stop bath.

  8. #8

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    I have experienced a couple of times that when I load my 35mm camera indoors in a fairly dim but not darkened room, when I take a couple of dummy snaps to advance the film I can get a faint but visible image on the leader that was exposed to light.

    Once I brain-farted and took the lid off a developing tank loaded with unprocessed film (and slapped it back on) while the room lights were on. The film was badly fogged in bands, but the images were still clearly visible.

    A dim room is much much dimmer than sunlight (more so than it seems to our eyes) so it takes longer to destroy the film completely, but if you search carefully there'll probably be some fogging.

  9. #9
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    The answers to RattyMouse's question appear to be "reciprocity failure" and "huge dynamic range of our eyes". You were in a dark room when the light went on. Your eyes were adjusted to darkness when that happened, which means the light appeared much much brighter than it would have appeared to a light meter.

    You can actually do that measurement for ease of mind: take your exposure meter, or a camera with a builtin one, and measure which exposures you would get with the light you had in there. Chances are you would need many minutes to properly expose the film you had in there. And once that exposure meter reads minutes, you are deep in the area of reciprocity failure, which means even half an hour won't really do much damage.

    I remember how much I worried about light leaks in my dark room. Now I know I can even leave my laptop open and running during enlargements.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctic amateur View Post
    I have experienced a couple of times that when I load my 35mm camera indoors in a fairly dim but not darkened room, when I take a couple of dummy snaps to advance the film I can get a faint but visible image on the leader that was exposed to light.

    Once I brain-farted and took the lid off a developing tank loaded with unprocessed film (and slapped it back on) while the room lights were on. The film was badly fogged in bands, but the images were still clearly visible.

    A dim room is much much dimmer than sunlight (more so than it seems to our eyes) so it takes longer to destroy the film completely, but if you search carefully there'll probably be some fogging.

    Good point. I have to wait until the scans come back. My story might change!

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