I have just moved up from 4x5 to 5x7 and I am in the process of testing out the new camera. So far all the negatives that I have shot and processed (5) have resulted in clear pieces of plastic.
The lens / shutter is from my 4x5 outfit, and I have successfully processed negatives and prints in the past. So I am willing to rule these out as suspects for now. A fresh batch of chemistry was made up form stock that I have used in the past with success. The camera is a light tight box with no mechanical moving parts. so that gets put aside for now.
What I am left with are the film holders and the film. We are talking about 3 different holders and 5 different dark slides. No common denominator there. This leaves me with the film and my question(s). The border around the negative usually found on cut film is absent on the problem negatives. It is like the negatives have never been exposed to light.
Could I have purchased a bad box of film.
What would make the negatives turn out completely clear.
What would an unexposed negative look like if processed properly.
I have left out name brands here as I do not think they are pertinent to the questions. But if people think that they are I will supply them.
I would appreciate any ideas as to what may be the problem.
How long "in the past"? This sounds like a chermistry problem if your shutter is working correctly. Also... sounds silly, but are you mixing up your fix and developer?
Originally Posted by DanMcGuire
Sacrifice a sheet of film, cut a bit off and put it into the developer in the light - if it goes black, the film & developer are active.
One possibility many have done before now is to use fixer instead of developer by accident...[whoops, overlapped post..]
Good luck, Bob.
I have not used a 5x7" camera being most familiar with 4x5". But I'm guessing that the film holders work the same and the film itself also has the identifier notches allowing the user to properly orient the emulsion side when loading. So that cuts out two possible answers to the problem. I would suggest exposing one sheet of your film in open daylight and developing it as a normal neg to see if you get an exposed piece of film as a result. If not you have bad film. If so your shutter is not working.
I prepare my chemistry the night before I use it. This way it sits for a period of time and the temp stabilises. So I believe the chemistry to be fresh. I like the idea as to try developing with the lights on. I will do that when I return home from work.
Thanks for the tip.
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If you are diluting the developer the night before it may have gone bad by the time you needed to use it. I would suggest that you follow Bob's suggestion and test a piece of film to be certain that the developer had not dropped out already. I always mix my developer immediately before use and then dump it in the recycling bottle (not reuse, but for the chemical recycling center). I keep my distilled water jugs and stock developer in the same place so that they are always at room temperature and then make a small adjustment in developing time for that temperature.
After a bit more thought on the subject I think you should look again at your lens/shutter to be sure you can rule it out. Remove the lens board from the camera and open the lens as you would to focus. Then close it and cock and fire the shutter while looking though it. It either opens correctly for the set exposure or it does not.
In over 30 years of working with sheet film I have never run across a batch that was completely "bad" i.e. no image at all after development. It's not impossible but imo highly unlikely.Was the film expired? Look at your "clear" negs. Do they have an emulsion side that could be scraped off with a fingernail? If so then there was a light sensitive surface there that not light sensitized during exposure OR your chemistry did not complete the process. The switch between fix and developer sounds possible but it has never happened to me during countless sessions over the years in the darkroom. I've used developer I mixed at full strength months before use and while one could argue the quality of the results there were results. Every time.
I think you can rule out bad film. Old film would not develop clear, it would be fogged. I suppose putting the film in the holder backwards is a possibility, but if you are experienced with 4x5 it is not likely. If the film is clear, as you say, that means it didn’t get any exposure or you ran it through the fixer first as has been mentioned. Unless your shutter is stuck, it has to be the latter.
I think mixing the chemicals the night before is a bad idea. If temperature control is the issue, you can very easily use a water bath to warm or cool (ice cubes) the solutions. Then they are not only fresh but you are less likely to mix them up.
About 25 years ago I returned from a photo outing with, I am sure, a bunch of prize winning images. Being excited, I rushed down to the darkroom to develop them and was surprised to see, as you did, clear film. I use developer one shot so that had gone down the drain but the fixer was still there and a quick check with my fingers confirmed my suspicions. My “fixer” was slimy. My working solution containers were and still are 32 oz. plastic Pepsi cups but in addition to being labeled “Developer”, Stop Bath”, “Fixer” and “Wash”, the developer cup has a bright red felt marker band around the top. It hasn’t happened again.
If your neg received no exposure, but went through the developer and fixer in the right order and the chemicals were working, you would still get base fog. If you put your neg in the fixer first, all you would get is the film base and absolutely clear gelatin emulsion.
The reasons for me knowing this, I'd rather not get into...
Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 01-12-2007 at 10:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"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
Last night I tried to make sure the shutter was not the problem, I pointed the camera at a light source, took the back off the camera, put my head into the back of the camera , placed the dark cloth over the camera and snapped the shutter, 1/15 of a second, I saw light.
Originally Posted by AZLF
Chemical mixup has not yet been ruled out, that I will try again by mixing up a fresh batch of developer.