4X5 film management on the road
I am new to LF photography and I will be taking my LF outfit with me on a trip to Asia this November, so I wanted to get some valuable APUG feedback on film managment before I go.
I am planning on taking two types of film (tri x and Efke 100) and will keep notes on film type, shutter speed, aperture, zone range, and development (N - +). The plan is to take along individual 4X5 film sleeves to store EACH negative. Two empty film boxes will be used to store each type of film after it has been exposed. My thinking is that this will reduce exposure to dust, make for easy handling, while each sleeve will have the post it note attached to it.
Are there any factors I am not considering like potential to scratch the negs? What other film management options should I consider?
When I went to Asia a few years back with 4x5, I took 12 holders and one kind of film, HP5+. When I have used 2 kinds of film, it seemed as though I never had enough of the film I wanted. It was problems times two. I took a small changing tent and several boxes. In the evening, I changed out all the used films into boxes. I had a N box, N+ box, etc. No sleeves. Film doesn't come that way. It worked out fine.
Are these sleeves going to be opaque? Otherwise, I don't see how you are going to sort them for development without removing them from the boxes in the dark, removing the Post-its while carefully keeping everything in order, and putting them back in the box, and then taking them out again to sort them for processing after reading the Post-its, in which case you might as well just keep them in order to begin with and use a notebook.
You don't really need to worry about exposure to dust between exposure and development. You're going to wash the negs anyway, so I think the individual sleeves are of no particular advantage.
Here's something I posted on this subject over at f32.net in response to someone who asked about handling B&W and E-6 film on the road--
If you have many different development times, fractional expansions and contractions, it's probably best just to separate the E-6 from the B&W, and just keep the B&W sheets in order with your notes. Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee have managed this way for years.
Many people have several empty film boxes for N-2, N-1, N, N+1, and N+2. Sometimes I do this.
With 8x10", where film boxes can get bulky. I've used one or two film boxes with several opaque plastic bags such as those used to hold 100 sheets of 8x10" paper, one bag for each batch, and maybe a couple of extra bags for negs that should all be developed in the same tray, such as a multi-frame panorama.
Lately for 4x5" I've taken to using one box with several cardboard dividers, tabbed with masking tape on one side so that I can keep them in order in the dark. The dividers are just 4x5" cardboard sheets that are usually included in the film packaging. The tabs run down the right side of the stack, and there is an extra tab at the top of the top sheet of cardboard, so I can always identify the top of the stack. Negs are filed N+2, N+1, N, N-1, and N-2 in order, and I have an extra box for negs that I plan to process in Acufine for more speed, and I'll bring another box for color. If I'm going to shoot more than one box of film before processing, I can also divide the stack with the dividers into two or more boxes.
I'll probably use this divider system next time I go on an extended trip with 8x10". It's neater than the arrangement with the bags.
Where I have to store film before development, I do as you describe, and store all the film in a single box. I only shoot Tri-X, so I'm not worried about mixing film types. However, since films are generally notched, you could easily store all the film in one box. Just make sure you keep good notes.
To avoid scratching, I make sure the film is packed into the nested boxes so it can't move around. I use the two cardboard sheets that come with Tri-X to book end the film. This goes into box, followed by 1 or more empty Tri-X film packages. With Tri-X, these packages hold their shape pretty well, so they act as a spring to keep the film pressed down into the box when the box is closed. It works great.
I wouldn't worry about sleeving each negative. Just do as I describe above, and you'll be fine. Best not to play catch with the film box tho!
And don't put the film in your checked baggage when you fly. Carry it onboard with you. Don't worry about it being scanned, either. Just pass it on through the scanner.
I take my tank (Jobo) and chemicals and process while out and about.
Always have done and always will.
If you can stick to just one film stock, I'd suggest Kodak's 200 ISO film TMY (Tmax 400). Used with skill it's superb.
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I know that you have already decided what to take, however, I have traveled a lot with my LF kit and have found over the years that it is best to carry Ready/Quick loads. Besides being able to take notes on the holder itself, it also keeps ignorant security people from wanting to look inside your boxes of exposed film - I ran into this situation once, in Melbourne, Australia of all places. On the trip I am getting ready for, I am carrying mostly Velvia F100 quick loads, although I do have a box of Efke PL100.
Originally Posted by hblad120
I think by far the best solution is to take along a Jobo tank, Rodinal and a rapid fixer and process film on location. You can get a Jobo with 4x5 reels and develop 12 sheets at once. Get a small roller base that is made for the Jobo Processor, it only costs a few bucks and roll the drum by hand. Jobo makes a gizmo that will wash the film right in the tank and does a good job. You can re-wash when you get back if you want to.
No stoage, no scratches and best of all if you need to you can go back and re-shoot anything that did not come out right or was better than expected.
I did this on a 3-week trip to Hawaii and it was great! I always did it when I went down to Mexico, too.
Also, there is no hassle going thru airport security with exposed film in boxes that they'll want to open.
Rodinal is great because it's concentrated and a little goes a long way. A small bottle of Ilford rapid fixer works great, too. If you like Pyrocat HD, Photographers Forumlary sells it in liquid form in 2 bottles that will process a lot of film.
I'd give up the idea of sleves, boxes, etc if I were you. I've done this a lot of different ways and processing on location is the best way to go.
Just my not so humble opinion ;>)
Good luck and have fun!