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  1. #1
    Robert Kalman's Avatar
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    Damaged 4x5 Negatives

    Somehow, I seem to be damaging some of my 4x5 negatives during processing. Below is example of what is happening. Note the diagonal line running from the upper left to the lower right.
    I process the film in the following manner:
    > 15 negatives in an open tray.
    > Presoak in plain water
    > 3 minutes, 15 seconds in HC-110B. Tray is rocked continually.
    > Plain water stop bath. Kodak rapid fix for 3 minutes. Washed, permawashed, washed. (By the fixing step, the damage is already discernable; so it must be happening during development).
    Some assumptions I've already gone through:
    > Negatives are sticking to one another during development: Possible, but unlikely, since I'm careful to thoroughly soak and separate the negatives during the pre-soak, and when I introduce the negatives into the developer I carefully shuffle through them to make sure they are separated.
    > The problem may be created during the few seconds the negatives are transferred from the developer to the stop bath and then transferred to the fixer: When development time is done, I quickly gather the negatives and place them into the plain water stop bath. Then I quickly tranfer them one at a time into the fixer. It is during this stage that the negatives are momentarily lying on top of one another without agitation.
    > I'm thinking that I may be processing too many negatives at once, and that, even with constant agitation some negatives are touching one another just long enough to introduce an interruption during development. But, I frequently process 15 negatives at once without any problems.

    Then again, I'm wondering if the problem is somehow related to film handling, and that it's not a processing problem at all.

    Does anyone have a suggestion as to what may be causing the damage, or at what stage in the process this is likely to be happening, or if it's something I'm doing during film handling?

    Many, many thanks.
    Bob Kalman
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Side by side damaged neg 1.jpg   Side by side damaged neg 2.jpg  

  2. #2

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    It seems that at some point your sheets stick together and cause the pattern seen at the attachments. Try a single negative in the tray. The place where the negatives touch have lower density at the negatives. That means underdevelopment, compared to adjacent (uncovered) areas.

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You are processing too many negatives at once, particularly for such a short development time, and you may not have enough solution in the trays. I'd consider handling 15 negs at a time in open trays to be a fairly advanced technique--as in, many very experienced darkroom workers are impressed by stories that Jock Sturges can process 16 8x10" sheets at a time in open trays. Maybe more people did this in the days when there was only sheet film, but unless you're processing a high volume of sheet film every day, work up from, say, 4 sheets at a time, and when you've got it down, add one or two more sheets.

    What do you mean "the tray is rocked continually"? It sounds like you are attempting to put the negs loose side by side in a large tray and rocking the tray. This is definitely going to produces overlapping negs and development problems, exactly like the ones shown in the two images you've posted.

    The conventional way to process in open trays, unless you're using a "slosher" or some similar frame for holding the sheets separately side by side, is to stack the film and shuffle through the stack to agitate, being careful not to damage the sheets as they are shuffled. There are a variety of twists on this method--face up or face down, angling the tray, how much solution to use, how to place the sheet from the bottom of the stack on the top, etc.--but it doesn't involve rocking the tray. There's a good description with photos in Ansel Adams' book, _The Negative_.
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  4. #4

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    That actually looks like a light leak to me. I say that because one can clearly see the outline of a film sheet in your second example. The line is sharp, the corner looks to be exactly 90 degrees. So I'm thinking that your darkroom maybe isn't as dark as it should be.

    Another possibility is that it's a developer take up issue -- that one sheet is sticking to another and delaying the initial take up of developer where the two are stuck together. But if that were the case I'd expect the line of demarcation to be less sharp and more diffuse. If you are doing the water bath and then picking up the entire stack and transferring to the developer as a block this could happen. The cure of course is to transfer the sheets one at a time being sure to fully immerse each sheet in the developer before moving the next sheet.

    To that end I'm impressed you can do 15 sheets at a time and get any decent results at all. Most I could do was six, and then I couldn't figure out how to eliminate the occasional scratched corner. I cured my film development problem(s) by moving to a Jobo 3010 tank. Unfortunately I don't know how to cure the problem you are having.

    Finally, I'm a little concerned by the very short development time. You might want to try moving to dilution H (aka "twice B") and more or less doubling development time to go with it. Anything below about five minutes often leads to some level of uneven development. The increased development time might be sufficient to even out what you are seeing if indeed it's a development issue.
    Bruce Watson
    AchromaticArts.com

  5. #5

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    The sheets are sticking together, and you are not shuffling them. Don't throw the whole pile in at once, and shuffle through them as the technique calls for, and that problem will end. Also, 15 sheets with a 3:15 development time is a big problem. That is too much to handle in 3:15. Try half as many sheets with a longer time by increasing dilution of the developer. You need enough time to shuffle through all the sheets in the tray at least a few times. You also need to make sure that your amount of working solution contains enough developer activity for one roll of 135 or 120 film for every four sheets you are processing. You need 3 mL of syrup per roll minimum in my experience, and 6 mL is actually the minimum stated by Kodak. So, for 15 sheets (let's just call it 16), you need 12 mL total syrup (24 if going by what Kodak sez). At dilution B, you are using a 1:31 ratio of syrup to water, so multiply the minimum amount of syrup by 32. That means that you need 384 mL of working solution (768 according to Kodak) to do 16 sheets.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-01-2009 at 08:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Not a light leak Bruce, I've seen similar with too many prints in a tray, not exactly sticking but not sliding freely.

    It's not the way to process negatives, get yourself a dev tank Robert.

    Ian

  7. #7

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    when you process a pile at once ( i sometimes process 25-35 4x5 sheets at once )
    you have to be very careful ...
    in the pre-soak bath. you need to put each sheet in 1 a time
    and then go through the bath and separate them all ... they will stick together badly ...
    once they are unstuck + soaked ....
    put into the developer ... count them again and shuffle them ...
    same for the stop and fix ...

    i agree that your development time is kind of short ... a lot of companies do not recommend
    any sort of development less than 4 mins or so because it tends to be uneven ... and rocking a pile
    of negatives in a tray seems like asking for trouble.


    nice portraits by the way!

    john

  8. #8
    keithwms's Avatar
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    What film is this?

    I agree with all of the above.

    Note that the edge of a piece of sheet film is quite sharp and stuff... it can easily scratch the other negs. So the shuffling technique always has the risk of scratching if you aren't very careful. As you noted, pre-wetting the negs individually is very important or they will stick and then you have a big mess.

    I recommend a combiplan. In fact, just get two- then you can just transfer the holder from one vat to the next. I also like to do a few complete lifts (out of the developer) a few times during development, particularly at the beginning, and the combi makes that very easy.
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  9. #9
    rmolson's Avatar
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    Back in the “good ole days” when I worked as a graphic arts cameraman we would hand develop in a tray our 16x20 color separation masks and negatives , This was before the days of film processors.( they had ‘em but they were not very reliable) .At that we would only handle 4 sheets of film at once each entering the tray at a different time so all ended up developed at the same time Even so we used one gallon or more of developer in a tray slightly larger than 16x20 and a wet suit would have come in handy when interleafing and agitating I had considerable experience handling film in a tray and would never consider doing 15 sheets of anything at ones time!.

  10. #10
    Robert Kalman's Avatar
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    Thanks

    Thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions. I'm going to process less negatives at once, increase the amount of developer and "agitatate" differently.

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