First roll of film - A True Story
Equipment involved: Patterson 2 roll plastic tank, tmax 24 exp roll, changing bag, one set of clumsy fingers.
Manage to open the roll easily and eventually get it on the reel. Start cranking and to my amazement the film actually starts to wind on the spool! 10 cranks later and it jams. I somehow manage to unjam the damn thing. Three cranks later and it jams again, for good. I still have maybe two feet of film not on the reel. With nothing else to do, I just wind the excess around the spool. I put the whole thing together and develop.
1/4 of the frames have kinks, 1/4 are purple. The rest look ok, though my attempt at printing them turned out really washed out looking prints. Not sure if it's the negative or the paper processing.
That's my story.
I did slightly better than you. My frames came out, but I overestimated the development and got this:
Click here for overdevelopment.
If you want some advice, you have to be extremely careful when loading the film on the reels. Patterson tanks actually come with better reels than mine do, but it can still be a PITA to load plastic reels. Make sure that the reel is dry. Make sure that your area is completely light tight. Cut off the leader before you load the film onto the reels. I load emulsion side down toward the reel because I find it much easier to go with the curl of the film than against it. Make sure your water is the right temperature and make sure you're reading the correct times for your film/developer combination.
What are you using, by the way?
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
I think we've all had these frustrating experiences in the early days of developing film. The trick is to go in with a calm state of mind & be prepared to deal with any problems that come up. I say that as someone who destroyed several rolls of film in the early days.
You just have to work out why the film was sticking & how to avoid that next time.
Most common cause of sticking on the plastic reels is that they are a bit wet or sticky in the grooves. Make sure they have been well washed & dryed before loading.
As the other poster said, emulsion down, so the curve of the film matches the curve of the reel.
Cut the corners of the leading endge of the film.
I know there is a very good step by step tutorial floating around somewhere.
I have found that TMax film gives great results in TMax developer.
I understand how a changing bag can be a necessity, but if there is any way you can gain experience without one, especially if you are using plastic reels, I would heartily recommend it.
Any time I have used a changing bag, I have found that my hands and whatever I am working with have quickly become hot and humid. When that happens, film and reels can get sticky.
The other problem with changing bags, IMHO, is that they muffle the sound. As film loads into a reel, one hears one type of sound as it goes in correctly, and a slightly different sound when it is going in incorrectly. I rely on that sound when I am loading reels (although in my case I use steel reels, so the sounds are different).
Film can be loaded on to reels and into tanks in a darkened room, at night, and then developed next day.
Everyone will suggest you practice with a junk roll of film. If you are going to use a changing bag, at least some of your practice should be in the changing bag.
Finally, patience and a calm demeanor are critical .
Soon, you will be doing this almost automatically, and wondering how it could have seemed so difficult.
Have fun - I do.
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I had many fight with Paterson reels; probably for the reasons already mentionned (humidity etc) in any case I totaly gave up on plastic reels and got myself steel tanks + reels.
Steel reels/ranks just rule. I wonder in fact why they had to invent the plastic ones. With a tiny amount of practice, the steel reels are a /lot/ easier to load. They cannot damage the film (the film is deposited on them, not forcibly dragged), they have no moving parts, they have no problem with temperature/humidity level, are easy to clean, and the tanks uses quite a lot less solution. Oh and they look better on shelf
I'm very enthusiast about steel reels, because I had such nightmares in the darkroom trying to spool the last 12ish frames of a 36 on a paterson. Steel reels work just as well for 120 as for 135 too.
I binned the Paterson tanks...
My first roll of film was some Kodak T-Max 100 in 120 format -starting with 120 seems like a bad idea, in retrospect. I got it all on the reel, after much frustration with my dark bag and eventually just taking it out in a dark room and doing it there. I developed the film, had no idea about agitation, guessed it and got some sort of results. Didnt know how long to fix for, or to keep the stop bath in. I only got two shots out of the whole roll of 8 (6x9 format), and they were overdeveloped. Oh, and I didnt heat the developer to the correct temperature either.
I think everyone messes up a bit to begin with, but you'll get better. And I highly suggest steel reels also. Music may help as well - it's true about remaining calm.
10 rolls of 35mm film later and I can do it without any huge problems...ok, I did forget to heat the developer again on roll 7 and 8. But there wasnt anything that interesting on there
In the summer months I have found that my hands sweating in the changing bag can make reels and film sticky. I now have half a dozen silica gel sachets permanently in the changing bag which helps reduce (but doesn't completely remove) the humidity in the bag
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I just can't use a changing bag. My hands tend to perspire easily at the best of times and I found the the plastic reels were getting moisture on from my hands. Since changing to a darkroom I've had no problems with plastic reels except for one which had a fault and went straight in the bin. To be fair I've never tried stainless reels so can't compare.
So many drummers, so little time.
One other word of advice - do NOT drink three or four cups of coffee immediately before loading film in the darkroom or changing bag!
Originally Posted by MattKing
I use plastic reels, thank you! One distinct advantage over metal - they are either "straight" - undeformed - or broken to pieces. There is no distortion left after attempts to straighten them, as a result of having been dropped.
Practice - and one other suggestion: Take the reels apart, and SCRUB the grooves clean. The most effective way, I've found, is to use a toothbrush and toothpaste, Toothpaste seems to be just abrasive enough to do a really good job.
Ed Sukach, FFP.