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Thread: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

  1. #1

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    Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    The attached thumbnails are the results of my first LF processing session yesterday. Obviously I screwed something up. I've processed B&W film before (35mm) and--I must be lucky--haven't produced such crap.

    My workflow was:
    1) Kodak TriX 320 shot at 320
    2)Negs loaded into CombiPlan tank in Harrison tent. Lid applied in the tent. Caps were on the lid. 4 sheets in the tank. 2 sheets stuck together but appear the same, suggesting they developed equally.
    3) Ilford DD-X developer for 7min 20 secs at 20 degrees, based on data from the Massive Dev Chart. Total volume in the tank = 1050 ml. 1+4 dilution as per Massive Dev chart and the Ilford data sheet.
    4) Inversion agitation. The negs were in the soup longer than 7:20 because I underestimated the time it would take to empty the tank.
    5) Stop bath with Ilford product as per its instructions. Fixed with Ilford product, wash with water for 8 minutes.
    6) I was consistent. I did not shorten any of the other steps once I realized it was taking longer than expected to drain the tank.
    7) The edges of the film are clear. I can read the Kodak product identification.

    The negs are almost 100% transparent! I haven't done anything to the scans other than re-size for the web. They both appear horribly "underexposed," yet I'm pretty certain I set the exposure correctly when making the pictures. The first is my son sitting on a couch, the second is his sister annoying him on the couch. The couch is the giant dark blob (actually green) in the background.

    Confounding variables:
    1) First time using this camera. At first I was concerned about light leak etc but now that I see the scans I don't think that's an issue.
    2) I "guessed at" the development time for this combo of film and developer since the data sheets for the developer don't address TriX at 320, only 200 or 400...so I split the difference.
    3) I did not pre-soak. The data sheets for the film and developer did not call for it.
    4) All the chemicals were fresh from the original bottles.

    I'd appreciate any trouble- shooting help people can share. My first reaction was that it the film was over or underdeveloped. Now I'm wondering if I fouled up the initial exposure (I used a light meter and everything...honest )

    Thank you in advance for sharing your wisdom
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rob-on-couch.jpg   Kids-on-couch.jpg  

  2. #2
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    underexposed, and underdeveloped(yes, both).

    being "transparent" means that not enough light reached the film to expose it. The hightlights in these photographs(the white bands on the boys shirt), see how they're still kinda "muddy"? That means that NOT ENOUGH development(time) was given.

    Since it looks like your pictures were inside, how were you metering your shots? I've never used TXP, but IIRC, 1s-->2s, 2s-->5s,etc... At least for reciprocity.

    one last thing that comes to mind:

    were you using a digital camera to meter your shots? Make sure it wasn't on AUTO ISO, cause what you thought was ISO 320, might have been 3200! just an idea to explain the severe underexposure.

    -Dan

  3. #3
    Forever Beardless Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    I agree with Daniel, underexposed rather than underdeveloped.
    Your first shot suggests that your metering was not that far off, the second is about 2.5-3 stops underexposed, and had you got the development bang on, you'd be dealing with a lot of contrast.
    Check your meter, shoot a Polaroid if possible, and do a test of several sheets at different exposures, from +3 to -3 stops from the indicated metered value.

  4. #4
    Peter
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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    I agree with the others. The lack of any shadow detail indicates underexposure. If you're sure about the exposure, and if this is the first time you've loaded and processed (or had processed) film, then you may have put the film in the holders with the emulsion facing the film holder rather than the dark slide.
    It's not necessarily the development in this case because if there were any shadow detail at all in the exposure/film, it would show up in the first minute of development, and the exposed silver in the shadows would be fully developed in 3 (+-) minutes.
    If the film was in backwards then the film development time may have been ok.
    If you're loading the film with your right hand, the emulsion side would be up if the notch code is at the top and on the right side of the film.

    Peter

  5. #5

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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielStone View Post
    underexposed, and underdeveloped(yes, both).

    being "transparent" means that not enough light reached the film to expose it. The hightlights in these photographs(the white bands on the boys shirt), see how they're still kinda "muddy"? That means that NOT ENOUGH development(time) was given.

    Since it looks like your pictures were inside, how were you metering your shots? I've never used TXP, but IIRC, 1s-->2s, 2s-->5s,etc... At least for reciprocity.

    one last thing that comes to mind:

    were you using a digital camera to meter your shots? Make sure it wasn't on AUTO ISO, cause what you thought was ISO 320, might have been 3200! just an idea to explain the severe underexposure.

    -Dan
    I was under one second. 1/60th is the lowest I try with kids. That I'm certain about. One thing that I can't recall...and now it's seeming to be the culprit-- is bellows factor. I was using a 210mm and was about 5 feet away from the couch. So right there, I'm underexposed and didn't identify that until I asked the question here.

    I was using a Sekonic digital meter, which I've used before with B&W without making a mess like this.

    You also mention that it is also underdeveloped. Is this a matter of trial and error to find the right amount of time when using a developer and chemicals that are not matched to one another? I chose 7:20 because someone suggested I split the difference between the 200 and 400 ISO specs. What could I have done differently?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond

  6. #6

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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Mounier View Post
    I agree with the others. The lack of any shadow detail indicates underexposure. If you're sure about the exposure, and if this is the first time you've loaded and processed (or had processed) film, then you may have put the film in the holders with the emulsion facing the film holder rather than the dark slide.
    It's not necessarily the development in this case because if there were any shadow detail at all in the exposure/film, it would show up in the first minute of development, and the exposed silver in the shadows would be fully developed in 3 (+-) minutes.
    If the film was in backwards then the film development time may have been ok.
    If you're loading the film with your right hand, the emulsion side would be up if the notch code is at the top and on the right side of the film.

    Peter
    Thanks Peter. Although this is my first time developing LF film, I've been shooting for a few months now and producing acceptable stuff. I had the film in the holders properly. It looks like I overlooked a fundamental set-up step (bellows compensation). Thanks for taking the time to help.

  7. #7
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    When developing a film for the first time, I think it's best to eliminate as many variables as possible from the equation. For me that means using one of the developers recommended by the manufacture and at the temperature, concentration, and even the recommended agitation. That way if anything is off you can be sure that it is a result of a error on your part and not the film or developer. You can tweak the development or even change developers later.

    You can download the tech manual for Tri-X 320 here:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/profe...4017/f4017.pdf

    Note the distinctions made between small tanks, large tanks, and trays.

    Good luck!

    Thomas

  8. #8

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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    Quote Originally Posted by tgtaylor View Post
    When developing a film for the first time, I think it's best to eliminate as many variables as possible from the equation. For me that means using one of the developers recommended by the manufacture and at the temperature, concentration, and even the recommended agitation. That way if anything is off you can be sure that it is a result of a error on your part and not the film or developer. You can tweak the development or even change developers later.

    You can download the tech manual for Tri-X 320 here:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/profe...4017/f4017.pdf

    Note the distinctions made between small tanks, large tanks, and trays.

    Good luck!

    Thomas

    Thanks Thomas. I read that pdf from Kodak. And in principle I agree that keeping it simple would have been to get the chemicals mentioned in the Kodak tech specs. But....

    I'm trying to be frugal and not end up with a shelf full of chemicals for each type of film I shoot. I have the Ilford chems because when I started to teach myself processing I was shooting 35mm HP5. I ran through all my 4x5 HP5 and have TriX in my film holders for the time being. I know the chemicals are relatively inexpensive but storing them in a small home (apartment) becomes something of a pain. So I was trying to stick with one brand.

    Now I'm thinking that my biggest problems happened before I put the film in the developing tank b/c I wasn't paying attention to bellows draw. Will try again next weekend.

  9. #9
    Hack Pawlowski6132's Avatar
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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    Shold we be looking at negative details and not prints??

  10. #10

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    Re: Help me identify mistakes of first processing

    These are scanned negatives.

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