It occurred to me this morning I'd been going about this rather badly.
I had two rolls of film to develop, so I went down to my converted darkroom. Previously a cold room from a pub (I giant walk in fridge), it's light tight and insulated against the Australian summer. The sliding door has a habit of getting stuck when you don't open it at just the right speed (must see to that), but it's generally light-tight enough. After plugging up the holes in the roof (it rained - should have seen to that earlier), it's sealed and comfortable. We installed some ventilation and I've done some printing quite happily.
So I sat down at my desk, which I got at an auction for $1. It supports my new Beseler 4x5 enlarger (needs a 150mm lens), a 8" roll paper cutter (need to figure out how to work that), and an Ilfolab processor I picked up with the enlarger (needs some looking at). Generally, a nice collection of impressive machinery.
I grabbed the scissors I'd borrowed from the kitchen, popped the caps off the film and loaded them onto the reels and dropped them into the tank, and put the top on. Rolled over to my shelf of chemicals (old office chairs, very handy) and grabbed my bottle of Xtol. I was down to the last little bit in the 5ltr bottle, and it looked a little suspicious, so I hedged my bets and decided to mix up the box of ID-11 I had. I'll buy some more Xtol later.
I emptied out the Xtol and gave it a quick wash. Hmm, out of water. I walked out to the garden tap (no plumbing in the darkroom yet) and filled up my water container and lugged it back. Time to try to get it up to 40 degrees, according to the instructions.
Well, 20 minute later after some messing around with a stove kettle once again stolen from the kitchen, a basic water filter, and two old measuring jugs, I got it up to 33 degrees and decided I was happy enough. Dissolved part A, Dissolved Part B, added water to make 5-ish litres. Lost track when I was adding hot water from the kettle. I accepted it, and diluted it down 1+1 to develop that film from before.
I got the film developed, and hung it up to dry - fogged. My little steel developing tank had developed a crack I never paid much mind to before, but apparently sitting around for so long while I tried to mix up new developer was enough to fog it quite noticeably.
I've developed around 80 rolls with these tools, in the spare room, in the bathroom, or sitting outside on the step. They work, but they're prone to error and inexact. Doing it quick and dirty shouldn't be acceptable if you value your photos.
It doesn't pay to be careless. It's frustrating, inefficient and let's face it - really stupid. If you have a 4x5 enlarger and devoted darkroom but can't mix up your developer exactly, it's time to step back and look at what you're doing.
I've got a shopping list going. I'll buy my own scissors tomorrow.
One of life's lessions learned?
and dont mix water to 40C by adding boiling water to cold water while the thermometer is still in the tub. It has a habit of exploding
It's amazing how little errors can be so costly. I've learned through hard experience that I don't develop film unless everything is right and my head is exactly there. I have a procedure and follow it doggedly.
Definitely. I've spent a day re-building a retaining wall because it wasn't perfectly level, but somehow never bothered to apply the same exactness to my processing.
Originally Posted by Dave Miller
I'll remember that one, if only for the next time I get bored
Originally Posted by GeoffHill
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Although laziness has an immediate pay-off, I find being pedantic in the darkroom eliminates mush frustration. It's well worth the extra effort.
"The secret to life is to keep your mind full and your bowels empty. Unfortunately, the converse is true for most people."
I've had a thermometer bulb explode in my face ... not fun, no damage to me but blue blobs all over the kitchen that are sucked into lino and many painted surfaces ...
Originally Posted by Fleath
The explosion and resulting splash was so consistent and large in range it looks like the kitchen was designed that way, don't really notice it at all now, except the inverse shadow area cast by my body...
Cleared the bowel problem, working on the consonants...
The most common error for me is just not being sensible. I can' t say how many times I've wasted hours and gotten nothing out of it due to saving developer and trying to print with it after it had bitten the dust. Lackluster prints, to say the least. Having read so much on this area from those of you and others that have shared your knowledge in books, I don't know why when I tear myself away to the darkroomm I just rush into things and forget that this is a systematic process. Shortcuts don't really work for me. I just get more frustrated and waste time. So I feel like putting a list on the wall of things to do to get most of the way there and get a good work print- then skip to the creative part. Tim Rudman stressed in his workshop on Lith to 'Practice Safe Selenium". Well I feel like adding " practice sensible darkroom 'Practice". Saves lots of time and the English language!
Fleath, you have come close to the heart of analogue photography. Thanks.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
I think we're all guilty of this at some point. I seem to over-use my fixer and now have to go back and re-fix some negatives.