View Poll Results: How do you orient the film holder? (You can choose more than one.)

59. You may not vote on this poll
  • 1) Vertical w/ flaps bottom

    2 3.39%
  • 2) Horizontal w/ flaps left

    10 16.95%
  • 3) Vertical w/ flaps top

    17 28.81%
  • 4) Horizontal w/ flaps right

    28 47.46%
  • 5) “I’m ambi-orientational, baby!”

    3 5.08%
  • 6) “My way is different” (Please share)

    0 0%
  • 7) “Depends on holder/format/circumstances” (Please share)

    3 5.08%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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Thread: Loading film – best way to orient the holder?

  1. #41
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle, Wash.

    Re: Loading film – best way to orient the holder?

    No matter your holder orientation, most everybody in this thread (naturally) curses dust. And already, we’ve had some splendid recommendations about how to battle the tiny specks during the film loading process. Below are a few more remarks that I’ve shared before, and will be happy to share again. (Some have been mentioned above, but I think they probably bear repeating. )

    To be a little more comprehensive, I’ll start a little before the actual film loading process, and go a little beyond it ... into the field. And I’ll concentrate less on film-sheet treatment (like Vaughn & Doremus “tapping” their sheets), and more on film-holder treatment:

    1. First, I’ve purchased only new holders – or “like-new,” pre-owned holders – that really didn’t need any initial cleaning. (BTW, based on Zaitz’s post just above, looks like there’s a new convert to this idea!) I carefully cleaned them anyway before their first trip into the field.

    2. When I load them, I first clean my work area of dust. Doremus has described this well above. For me, this simply means wiping or lightly sponging my work surface where the holders will sit. (And if it’s convenient, I’ll load them sometime after taking a shower. No, not to clean myself before loading, though that may be an unintended benefit. It’s to knock dust/static electricity out of the air, a problem in my work area.)

    3. After loading a holder, I’ll place it in its own brand-new zip-lock bag. And I place these individual bags in another larger one, ready for my next field trip.

    4. In the field, I minimize the time a holder is in the air. (This, I think, is among the most neglected of field habits, even by the most careful of photographers.) Only when I’m ready for a shutter click do I remove the holder from its bag. And after the click, back into the zip-lock bag it goes. Immediately.

    5. When I’m back home, and it’s time to unload, my first step is to wipe-off (sponge-off) the outside of the bags, especially if I’ve visited a windy-dusty landscape. This is before I remove holders from them. And it’s also well away from my film loading area. It’s yet another overlooked habit that can make a difference. I then repeat Step 2 before final unloading...

    “Dust-on-the-film” is now no more than a rare occurrence for me. (Managing dust around the darkroom enlarger or the scanner is another story.) And, I’ve never had to re-clean the holders – at least nothing beyond a casual wipe w/ anti-static, lint-free material. And that’s to remove the few specks of dust from the field that can only have landed on the holder during its few precious moments in the mountain air. ;^)

  2. #42

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Oregon and Austria

    To add to the dust-prevention regimen (Not too far off-topic I think):

    I have only used holders. I've refurbished several. I find that dirty ones often have malicious dust and other particles collected in the light trap that like to hide there and only jump out when the darkslide is pulled. Running warm water from the tap through the light trap while inserting and removing the darkslide is a great way to clean these up and send them screaming down the drain. A little dishwashing soap helps in stubborn cases. Since the light traps are velvet-like material, make sure you leave the darkslide out and let them dry thoroughly if you do this. I dry them a couple of days.

    Assuming that we start with clean holders when loading (vacuumed, brushed, blown, etc.), and we manage to get the film in without any dust on the surface (clean air and work area, minimizing exposure, etc., which has been covered pretty well here), then the most important thing is to keep dust from jumping on to the film surface when photographing.

    I know that my camera bellows is just full of those nasty, hungry, evil little dust specks just hiding from me till the dark slide is pulled and they can leap, en masse, onto my film. There are also some of their cousins scattered around on my film holder before I pull the slide.

    To try and control these hordes somewhat, I clean the inside of my bellows often. The vacuum cleaner is good if I am home, but in the field it is often just extend the bellows fully, blow with air from my lungs until no more floating motes are visible, and then a wipe down with a clean damp bandana. If the air is clean, then I leave the camera open and set up for a few minutes after this to air out and to settle the dust. When changing the orientation of the back, I'll blow out the bellows and let the dust settle as well if I have time. In principle, even if the bellows are dusty, but you can convince the little monsters to stay where they are and not jump on the film, you'll be okay. Therefore, I try to keep shaking rattling and rolling the camera to a minimum.

    I always carry a lipstick brush or a soft make-up brush in a case in the field. I brush and blow off the film holder before inserting it. Somehow, even though the holders come from new, sealed Ziploc bags, there is always dust visible. Especially important is to get the dust off the outside of the darkslide and from the crevice under the light trap.

    I also try to minimize exposure by taking the holder out of the bag and getting the photograph made as quickly as practical. Pulling the darkslide slowly and carefully is a good idea. If the little dust-devils aren't awakened by sudden movements, the may lie, sleeping, where they are till the photograph is made.

    Often, I have to insert a holder, pull the slide and then wait for the light/wind, etc. In this case, it is more important to make sure the light trap is protected from bright light. I have a little fold-open black box I've made from the insides of old film boxes that just fits over the extended portion of the filmholder and serves to keep light and dust out of the light trap.

    After exposure, I can relax: "go for it you little monsters" I say to the dust at this point, since they don't realize they'll just get washed off during processing (cue vengeful laughter from me)....



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