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Thread: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

  1. #1

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    NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Hello everyone, I am fairly new to large format photography but I am experienced with studio photography (stills and portraits). I have been experimenting with large format film (4x5) and I seem to be hitting a wall. Every piece of film that I have exposed ends up clear when I develop it.

    I have tried developing at home as well as sending it out - same result. Other film that I processed (shot outside) with the studio shots turned out fine. I believe that I am underexposing the image - but I am not sure how.

    My setup:
    Ilford FP4+ film (ISO 125)
    4x5 camera w/ 210 lens.
    Aperture set to f/8 (adjusted from f/11 +1 stop for bellows and exposure compensation).
    Shutter speed set to 1/100.
    One studio light metered (with flash meter) at f/11 (ISO 100, 1/125 sec - as close to lens settings as meter will allow).
    Bellows racked out to 10 inches for focus. 0.5 stop added to aperture for bellows compensation, another 0.5 added to brighten image (intentional).
    Lens approximately 6 feet from subject.

    What am I doing wrong? With a film speed of ISO 125 I shouldn't have any problem exposing with a strobe at 1/100 & f/8. What am I missing? I've tried triggering the flash on both "M" and "X" settings, it doesn't seem to change the result.
    I'm hoping that it's not the shutter, I'm not sure how to fix that except buying a new one.

  2. #2
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Are there markings on the negative edges? They would be black type against clear film.

    When in the studio with your lights set-up, look at the ground glass and trip the shutter. Do you see a flash through the lens?

  3. #3

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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Nope the whole negative is clear when looking at it. If I scanned it, the whole thing would be black.

  4. #4

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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Hello, and welcome! Please forgive me for asking the following, since you are clearly an experienced photographer, but LF is indeed a different world in many respects. Is it possible that you are not removing the dark slide when you expose? I'll assume that you are, but thought I'd dispense with that first. Here is what I would do:
    First, with no flm in the camera, remove the lens (or aim the camera back at something light so that you can see light clearly through the open lens), open the shutter manually, and watch as you adjust the aperture, to make sure the diaphragm is moving freely. If it is, set it to full open, then close the shutter and set the shutter speed to, say, 1/2 or 1/4 second, cock and release while you watch it, to make sure it is opening and closing properly. Try the same with faster shutter speeds, including the one you're using. Naturally, you should be able to hear the shutter opening and closing as well, or at least clicking at the faster speeds.
    Again, my apology if this is too obvious. If all is well with these three factors, it sounds to me as if the shutter synch is off. You can test with continuous light -- daylight or artificial -- to confirm that you are at least getting an exposure that way, thus narrowing down the problem.
    Most of us have had a few trials getting into LF. I hope yours is solved quickly and easily.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  5. #5

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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Did you leave the dark slide in the film holder when you shot the picture? You can't have left the lens cap on?

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Quote Originally Posted by jpheneger View Post
    Nope the whole negative is clear when looking at it. If I scanned it, the whole thing would be black.
    That usually indicates that no developer touched the film, regardless of the lens cap being on or the darkslide in place. In those two cases, film edges should still show the markings.

    You certainly would not be the first of us to muck-up development chemistry.

    Keep the faith!

  7. #7
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Quote Originally Posted by jpheneger View Post
    If I scanned it, the whole thing would be black.
    First you said the negs were completely clear.
    Now you say they're completely black.
    Which is it?

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  8. #8

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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Sending it out kind of almost eliminates a one-person processing error, right? It's an assumption to be sure, but a pretty reasonable one that at least one of the sheets was processed correctly having been done by two different people, one of them a professional lab.

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    That usually indicates that no developer touched the film, regardless of the lens cap being on or the darkslide in place. In those two cases, film edges should still show the markings.
    35mm and 120 film are the only two formats I know where film/frame info is "written" with light along the edges and developed out. Am I missing something?

    I'd also first guess no developer. I've seen correctly-exposed film processed with the developer/fixer order reversed, and there's still a faint, unusable-but-visible image. I've also seen film loaded backwards and shot through the anti-halation backing; also a faint, unusable-but-visible image. But that doesn't explain why the "outside" shots came out okay...

    Quote Originally Posted by jpheneger View Post
    I have tried developing at home as well as sending it out - same result. Other film that I processed (shot outside) with the studio shots turned out fine.
    Perhaps an issue with flash sync? Take the back off the camera and take a studio shot looking through the back of the lens and see if the shutter opens synchronous with when the flash fires.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10

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    Re: NEED HELP! All my negs are empty!

    film is being loaded BACKWARDS, perhaps??? check your film holders.

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