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Thread: Film Loading for Dummies

  1. #1

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    Red face Film Loading for Dummies

    Y'all probably don't remember me, but a few months ago I posted about how I had finally taken the plunge and bought a Crown Graphic and was excited to learn how to use it. Well, it's taken me this long to finally buy some film (Tmax 100) and I am stumped at how to load it. I am currently taking a beginner b&w course at a local college and I could ask for help from my prof (he's mainly 35mm) but I'd like to wow him and myself and do it on my own this weekend.

    I've done a search on the board and googled my question, but everything I'm getting is still too advanced for me. Even Paul Butzi's site, as awesome as it is, it too confusing for me. If someone would be willing to give me step by step, idiot-proof instructions, I would be forever grateful.

    I think I have two film loaders. One says "Graphic Film Pack Adapter" and the other just says 'Riteway" and is much thinner. I am completely lost. Thanks for any help you can give someone just starting out.

  2. #2
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    unfortuantely, the graphic film pack adapter isn't much use, as they don't amke the film packs.

    The Riteway should be okay (but will only take two sheets - one on each side)

    what point do you get stumped on Paul Butzi's instructions?

    (and have you checked these? http://www.largeformatphotography.info/loading.html )
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  3. #3

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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Cut a piece of (thinnish, say 80gsm) paper down to 5x4". Use that to test with.

    If you're following Paul Butzi's instructions page, the only thing I'd say to clarify is:
    a) do it with the holder horizontal
    b) pull out the dark-slide a couple of inches and flip the end open
    c) put the film in about 1cm or so, and push it down. There are two sets of grooves, one for the darkslide, one for the film. Don't confuse them.
    d) slide the film in using both thumbs, keeping it parallel with the sides of the holder, until the end of the sheet jumps in - and then a little more until it comes over the wee nubbly bits and sits properly flat.
    e) you can test the dark-slide is still smooth (as it should be in a groove unto itself).

    HTH
    Last edited by PigleT; 10-Sep-2006 at 13:35.

  4. #4

    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Here is a pic of what is should look like. The notches should be at the top right corner.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Film loading.jpg  
    Last edited by SoCal Dave; 10-Sep-2006 at 14:11.

  5. #5

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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    You all are the best! Tim, my main confusion was the difference in the two film holders that I thought I had. I wasn't sure which one to use and which instructions went for which loader, if that makes any sense. Since the film pack adapter isn't what I need, I'll be using the Riteway. Thanks so much for you clarification. I think I can figure this out now.

    PigleT - what a great idea!!! I never would have thought to try it with regular paper first, thank you so very much! And thank you as well for the clairfying instructions. I am going to try this tonight.

    Dave, thanks for the picture, I am a very visual learner, so that helps a lot. Thank you, thank you!!!

  6. #6
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Jodi

    Practicing with a sheet of paper with the lights on is a great idea. But it might be a better learning experience to practice with a sacrificial sheet of film since film is stiffer and handles differently than paper. Since holders have to be loaded in total darkness, feel is everything, and you want to experience what proper loading is supposed to feel like.

    First, take a good look at the holder with the lights on. Notice the two metal strips that run along the long dimension of the holder, and that stop about 1/2' from the flap end. You can clearly see them in the picture that Dave posted. The objective is to get the film to slip under both of those strips of metal.

    The first step in loading the holder is to insert the darkslides with the white side out. White-side-out is the traditional indication that the holder is loaded with unexposed film. After exposure, put the darkslide back in with the black side out. But for now, you want the white side out, and you want the slides inserted only about halfway.

    Use a brush to sweep out any dust, lint or hair that may have gotten into the holder. Fastidious people even use a vacuum cleaner.

    The next steps apply to those who are right-handed. I presume that lefties would just reverse everything. Put the holder on the counter with the hinge side to the left. Have your box of film available - I prefer to have it to the left of the holder. Then, when you are ready, turn out the light. Wait a moment for your eyes to acclimate, and then make sure that the door is completely closed, the safelight off, etc.

    Open the box of film, placing the bottom and inner lid somewhere on your counter where you can find them. I usually put them to the left of the holder, and nest them at 90 degrees to each other so that they stay together but it's still easy to separate them when the time comes. The film will be in a plastic envelope in the third component of the box. Take out the envelope, and reach inside to remove the film. I like to press the envelope into the bottom of the box, and then lay the stack of film on top and at 90degrees.

    Carefully pick up the top sheet of film. Depending on the manufacturer, you may find that there is a sheet of cardboard on top of the stack, and you may also find a thin sheet of interleaving paper protecting the emulsion side of the film. I usually leave the cardboard on top of the stack of film, but put the interleaving sheet off to one side to be discarded after the holders are loaded.

    Carefully hold the sheet, touching only the edges of the film. Feel around the edges to find the notch(es). When the notch(es) are on the top edge, right corner (or left edge, top corner) the emulsion is facing you. Hold the film across its short dimension, touching only the edges with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, with the emulsion side toward the palm of that hand, and with the notched edge back by your left hand little finger.

    Then, using the thumb and middle finger of your right hand, feel for the ends of those metal strip in the holder. When you have found them, use the index finger of that hand to open the flap. Bring the film, in your left hand, toward the holder and, use the thumb and middle finger of that hand to guide the film to the end of the metal strips. Remember that the emulsion should be facing out of the holder. Use the little finger of your left hand to push the notched end of the film into the holder, sliding under the metal strips.

    After you have pushed the film all the way into the holder, use the index finger of your right hand to gently lift the ege of the film at the hinge to see if it is held in place by the metal strips on both sides. Occasionally, you will find that the film has gone under the strip on one side but not the other, and at that will be apparent when you lift the edge of the film. If all is OK, close the flap and push the darkslide all the way in. It's probably also a good idea to check that the notch is in the upper corner with the holder in the horizontal ("landscape") position.

    Flip the holder over, and load the second side. Then, before putting it aside, check to make sure that both darkslides are protruding the same distance from the holder. Sometimes, a darkslide will hang up on the hinge and no go in all the way; this will be apparent when you compare the two darkslides. Also, feel the hinge in to make sure that the hinges are flat against the holder body on both sides; sometimes, a darkslide will slip under a hinge leaving the flap open.

    After you have loaded your holder(s), pick up the remaining stack of film and put it back into the plastic envelope. Carefully fold the edges around the film to make a fairly tight package. Drop this into the bottom of the box, put the inner cover on top, and then flip it over and put the outer cover on. Before you turn on the lights, feel around your workspace to make sure you haven't left any sheets of film out or any holders with the darkslides not fully inserted.

    After you have done this a couple of times, it will seem almost second nature. But the first time will be awkward. And if you make a mistake, don't worry - - - you won't be alone!

  7. #7

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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Oh my, that was easy!!! Louie, I can't thank you enough for your step by step instructions. That, combined with Paul's photos from his website really made it all click for me. I owe you a big, fat glass of red wine. If we ever met in person, you get a drink from me! Thank you so very much. Now...I just need a few more holders...

  8. #8
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Quote Originally Posted by Jodi
    Now...I just need a few more holders...
    Do an eBay search on "(riteway, "lisco regal", "fidelity deluxe")" (without the outermost quotes) and you'll find literally dozens, if not a hundred or more at any given time; many on Buy It Now at around half the new price (new price, BTW, is about $40 for 2 double-sided holders, so bid accordingly). Some will tell you to shy away from the older wooden Riteways, but though mine had pretty stiff darkslides when I got them, they smoothed right out after I rubbed some dry graphite lubricant into the edges of the dark slides and ran them in and out a few times. Of the fourteen mixed, moderately old film holders I have (half of which came from a regular on this board via a trade deal), I have one that leaks the tiniest bit at the edge of the flaps, and all the others appear to be fine.

    So, for about the price of a box of Kodak or Ilford B&W film, you should be able to get three or four more holders, which is enough for a start. For perspective, I have fourteen -- and if I shot them all (28 sheets) it'd take me, at a minimum, about three hours to develop all the film (in trays, at six sheets per batch, half an hour from lights out to hanging the film for each batch) -- but I'd run out of clips to hang them from halfway through and have to take a break until the first batch was dry.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  9. #9

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    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Wow, thanks for the information Donald. Knowing what they should go for new really helps!

  10. #10

    Re: Film Loading for Dummies

    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal Dave
    Here is a pic of what is should look like. The notches should be at the top right corner.
    Your pic shows the darkslide only partially withdrawn. Is this how you load the film? If so, do you not get scratchs on the emulsion?

    Steve

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