View Full Version : Hello from Bucharest Romania, and need help troubleshooting a problem negative

5-Jun-2016, 04:51
Hi to everybody,

I just registered on this forum and this is my first post. I noticed that all Google searches on LF topics somehow pointed here, and that is how I found LFPF.

I am an amateur photographer located in Bucharest Romania. When I was in highschool about 20 years ago, my uncle introduced me to film photography and dark rook processing - loved it, but did not have the time to pursue it then. I took on photography again about two years ago. Presently I shoot mainly digital (sony a99 and Sony/Minolta lenses) but I do also film using my collection of old Minoltas on 35mm, as well as a Mamiya camera for medium format.

I very recently got into LF - my first camera was only delivered two days ago - it is a 4x5 Plaubel Peco Junior with a Rodenstock Sironar 180/5.6 lens in a Copal 1 Shutter. As the lens was purchased separately, I had to 3d print a lens board since the one the camera came with was in a Copal #3 shutter. I also unexpectedly won an ebay auction for an Graflex Crown Graphic with a Kodak Ektar 127/4.7 lens, which is pending delivery.

And here is my first problem - not sure if there is a more appropriate venue to post this, but I will gladly move it if necessary:

So far I have shot a total of 4 frames - two portraits of my kids using a flash, and two attemts at landscapes. All on Foma 100 sheets - not planning to switch to anything more expensive before I get enough exercise on this. I developed the two portraits in Fomadon R09 using stand development (I know it is not recommended for LF, but it is the one i know...). They are both quite ok - exposure seems right, there is almost no visible grain, and both are sufficiently sharp.

Today I took the camera outside and shot a field, then came home and developed also in Fomadon R09, but this now for the first time I tried a more standard process - 4 minutes in a 1:25 dilution in tray, shaking 10s each 30s. And what I got is the attached monstruosity. I have no idea where I have failed and I was wondering if you could help me trace back the problem. I would dare and say it may be the lens board which seem not to be completely light tight?


Thanks a lot!

John Kasaian
5-Jun-2016, 08:56
Welcome aboard!

5-Jun-2016, 09:20
All the film made by problems, analysis of error will be faster!

David Lobato
5-Jun-2016, 09:38
Welcome Costin. The photo looks like there are light leaks around the film holder. Check to see if the film holder seats in the back firmly when you insert it. There is a groove where a rib on the film holder seats into during insertion.

Oren Grad
5-Jun-2016, 10:20

There may be a combination of problems here; to me, the apparent mottling suggests a problem in development. In any case, I've moved it to our film section where more people are likely to see your question.

5-Jun-2016, 12:11
If your other 4 sheets came out fine and the only thing you've changed is development, then I'd look in that direction for the cause of the problem. A quick glance suggests at least two issues: a light leak and uneven development. Are you sure your darkroom is absolutely 100% dark? Did you develop the previous sheets in the same tray, using essentially the same setup?

David Lobato
5-Jun-2016, 12:22
It could be that one sheet did not get enough agitation. And not enough wetting in the developer around the edges.

5-Jun-2016, 12:24
Thanks guys for the warm welcome.

I have a total of 4 sheets. The two that came out fine were taken indoors and were developed in a light tight tank using Fomadon R09 at 1/100 dilution for one hour - a process I've used a lot for smaller formats. The other two that came out bad were shot in broad daylight and were developed in a metallic tray (kitchen type, not specifically for photographic use) also in Fomadon R09 at 1/25 dilution for 4 minutes as per the tech sheet - 30s initial agitation followed by 10s of agitation each 30s.

Things I may suspect:

- Bad developer? I used the last of a bottle I started some 3 months ago (but the same bottle I used for the OK ones);
- slides superposed? I developed 2 sheets at once and at some point they may have overlapped for a few seconds;
- dark room was one of the bathrooms - it has no windows and I used a towel to seal the gap between door and floor. What the only light that came in was through the key hole, but not straight. I even took my watch off;
- spring back too soft?

Non-related: I tried to access my profile page after logging in, but I got a message saying I do not have access - hence the momentary use of Tapatalk.

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Jim C.
5-Jun-2016, 12:33
Welcome Costin,

There are definite light leaks in your film holder since there are heavy fogged areas on the left and right.
The mottling can be as others said dark room and processing related. I've last time I did tray processing was decades
ago in school, so I can't troubleshoot.
The lens board, which you had 3D printed, could also be causing the mottling, most of the plastics they use can be
translucent and since it's built in layers you might have porosity/ thickness issue to contend with.
Have you checked the lens board ?
A LED flashlight held in direct contact with the lens board would tell you immediately even in room light.

5-Jun-2016, 12:38
Thanks Jim. The lens board is definitely not translucent, I checked - I had it printed at a lab and asked them to use the most dense plastic available. I'll try some more in more controlled and consistent conditions and see what comes. The beauty in LF is that there are so many thing that can go wrong, that a good shot is truly a huge satisfaction impossible to get on digital.

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5-Jun-2016, 13:04
Try developing some outdoor shots in the daylight / light proof tank to eliminate light leaks in your darkroom. Some light spilling through a keyhole may be alright for paper, but it can be too much for film, which is much faster. A light leak in the holder or camera setup cannot be eliminated at this point, although I would expect some fogging on the 2 shots that came out fine, so I would look in different places first.

Michael E
5-Jun-2016, 13:18
Did you pre-soak the film? Four minutes in the developer seems awfully short without a preceding water bath. Tray development always seems to give me dense edges. From what I read, your tray should be a lot bigger than the film.

It might be a good idea to run a comparison test. Expose both sides of a holder identically, then develop them differently. This should narrow it down to either camera or processing error.

5-Jun-2016, 14:17
Yes, I always pre-soak for a few minutes and use the time to prepare the rest. I just took another shot and just developed it using the same 4 mins process but in the light tight tank and the negative looks good so far. Contentwise it's a cat-ass-trophy, you'll see when it dries :).

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Gary Beasley
5-Jun-2016, 14:44
you can also get that kind of mottling from incomplete fixing leaving undeveloped silver halides behind. This fact would be given away by the milky look most times but occasionally it will look fine until fully dry.

5-Jun-2016, 14:47
This is good to know, many thanks. Usually I kind of fix a little more than the specified time.

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5-Jun-2016, 15:36
As I was saying earlier, I've made another attempt at developing using 1/25 dilution and 4 minutes time - the same that went bad before - a fresh scan is attached, for you to see if there seem to be any development flaws. Otherwise it is a bad shot, I was trying to arrange my kittens to look nice and that little one had to walk his ass in front of the camera :). Plus I only had a fixed power strobe (all my other flashes were at the studio) set at about f8, hence the somewhat shallow DOF. I noticed already there are finger prints on the sides, I should start wearing some medical gloves or something when handling film.


Tim Meisburger
5-Jun-2016, 17:53
Handle film by the edges. The earlier shot was a light leak, probably from failure to insert the film holder all the way, or because your film holder leaks light through the slot, or because you accidentally pulled the slide open a bit while while handling the holder, or pulled the spring back away from the camera while removing the slide. Don't worry about it, as if you continue, you will eventually make all possible mistakes, although the frequency becomes less over time. Have fun and enjoy!

Four minutes may be too short for sheet film, so you may need to go to a greater dilution for the rodinal. For what its worth, I have never really liked rodinal for sheet film. I still use it occasionally when I don't have anything mixed, but would by preference use D-76 or D-23, both of which can be mixed easily from scratch.

Keep trying to shoot the cats, which must be the Mt. Everest of LF!

6-Jun-2016, 01:01
Thank you Tim. Since I just exhausted my stock of Rodinal, I ordered ID-11, I am really curious about it.

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Jim Jones
6-Jun-2016, 05:52
Plastic that is opaque to our eyes may still pass ultraviolet light that affects film. However, as Oren says in post #3, the mottled appearance suggests a developing problem in addition to any light leaks. We check for this in a dark room with a light inside the bellows. Check the bellows and each end of the camera where the lens board and the film back fit. Also, there are many spots caused by dust and debris on the film. These could be in the final wash water, or more likely, airborne while drying the film.

6-Jun-2016, 07:29
Many thanks, I will check for light leaks as suggested. At least part of the visible debris is from the scanner platen, which I had ignored to clean beforehand. All those spots are easy to correct in post-processing, so they are a bit less of a worry - but I do agree they should be avoided in the first place.

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10-Jun-2016, 21:23
If the developer is old and you overlap the films, you don't have the emulsion side of the film in constant contact with the developer solution you can get mottled negatives. The edges definitely look like you have a light leak. If the negative is very dense on the edges it would sure seem light struck some how. Try developing one sheet at a time and see if you can eliminate the mottled look. If you have a minor light leak it probably didn't effect the negative indoors with flash. But outside in daylight ambient light is getting in.
Maybe shoot another indoor flash test shot, develop it in a tray, then go outside, put the holder in the camera, pull the darkslide, don't open the lens, count to ten put the slide back in and develop it and check for light strikes.

It could just be a bad holder. You got the first two right! You're doing something right! Keep playing you will figure it out ☺
Best Regards from Iowa USA, Mike

11-Jun-2016, 08:57
It looks I might narrow this down to some light leaks caused by the camera. I have not checked it yet because a Graflex Crown Graphic I purchased off ebay was delivered to me yesterday. Anyway, I got new developer (Ilford ID11) and new fixer (Kodak tmx), took one picture in my yard with the Graphic using the same holder as before and developed it individually in a tray for 10 minutes and it came out very well.

This is it (don't mind that scratch):


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15-Aug-2016, 13:17
Hi guys, it looks like I need your help again - the strangest things just happened to me. A few days ago I took six shots in the studio to test the newly arrived Fujinon 250/6.7. Light was measured with a flashmeter and the whole setup tested on the DSLR before actually shooting film - Ilford FP4, for that matter. All good. I postponed developing because I had ordered a Patterson tank, pending delivery. Tonight I could not wait any longer and hit the dark room to do at least one sheet. I did tray developing, at 20 degrees C, ID-11 1+1, 11 minutes - all standard values in the Ilford charts.

After fixing, biggest surprise - the sheet was 100% transparent, like it had never been exposed. I blamed it on myself for maybe not having actually pulled the dark slide out, and proceeded to another one out of curiosity. This time stock dilution, 24 degrees and 6 minutes, compensated as per charts. Exact same result.

So I did a third one - same as the other two - not even the slightest trace of exposure.

What the heck happened? I could not have forgotten to remove the dark slide 3 out of 6 times. The cap was not on, since I focused on the ground glass for each shot - so pretty sure I did take those exposures.

The only thing I could think about might be the ID-11, which I had stored for about one month as working solution in a 1 liter air tight bottle. But I did develop a 120 film in the same developer a couple fo days ago and it turned out fine. I think I will try the other three in Rodinal stand process, where I definitely should not mess anything up.

Thanks a lot!

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15-Aug-2016, 13:19

All three sheets look loke this.

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Stephen Thomason
15-Aug-2016, 13:32
Did you make sure the new Fuji 250 shutter is working OK? Does it use a Seiko shutter?

Did you test the developer with a piece of fogged film, such as a leader from 35mm, to make sure the developer was active?

15-Aug-2016, 13:38
Thank you. Did not test it, but as I said I did develop a 120 film couple of days ago using same lot. The lens is in a Seiko shutter which at least by looking at it seems to work fine. May flashes did not sync correctly? They did fire, but if not in sync that would explain the unexposed sheets - at 1/125 and f16 with only one modeling lamp on.

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15-Aug-2016, 13:55
A flash sync issue is what comes to my mind as well. Correct sync can quite easily be checked from beneath the dark cloth looking though the ground glass.

15-Aug-2016, 14:12
Thank you, I just got back at the studio - it looks like I'm just ...not too bright. The flash sync switch was set to M, I probably moved it accidentally when cocking the shutter. Good news is that when set on X the flash does fire right through the lens, plus now that I know, I can reexpose the other 3, so not all six sheets are wasted. I am sure this is a thing to be found on the beginners' mistakes lists...

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15-Aug-2016, 15:50
Light leaks most likely. Check your film holders and the camera. To check the camera, take in into your darkroom, put a very strong battery-powered (LED) light inside the camera, put the closed lens on it and a film holder to cover the ground screen. Now you have a completely closed camera with a bright light inside. Turn off all lights in the darkroom, wait a while and check the camera from all angles to see whether there is any light leak.
Shooting indoors will typically not reveal any problem when the camera has some minor light leaks, but when you take it outdoors in bright sunlight even the smallers pinhole in the bellows may cause a problem.

15-Aug-2016, 19:39
[QUOTE=costin.teodorovici;1345636]Thank you, I just got back at the studio - it looks like I'm just ...not too bright. The flash sync switch was set to M, I probably moved it accidentally when cocking the shutter. Good news is that when set on X the flash does fire right through the lens, plus now that I know, I can reexpose the other 3, so not all six sheets are wasted. I am sure this is a thing to be found on the beginners' mistakes lists...

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M flash sync would fire a flash bulb before the shutter opened so the bulb was burning bright when the shutter finally opened. Electronic flash is so fast it flashed and was dark before your shutter opened.
This is what makes analog photography so much fun, there's always something to go wrong.
I've done the same thing 😀
Best Regards Mike

Jim Andrada
17-Aug-2016, 19:58
Welcome to the forum. There are a lot more mistakes you can (and will) make - like for example traveling all day to get to a spot and taking great pictures and driving all night to get home and then finding that you took the empty film holders and left the loaded ones at home. SO far you're doing great.

Tim Meisburger
17-Aug-2016, 22:03
Ha. That just happened to me in Tucson Jim. I spent most of my time there fixing up my son's house, but did drive over to San Xavier with my wife one morning. I shot six sheets with the Travelwide. When I got back I decided to unload the holders and reload for the drive to Virginia and found them empty. I forgot that I had unloaded them before I left Bangkok, so I could put the holders in my checked bags...

18-Aug-2016, 00:22
Thanks a lot guys - already feeling better about myself :)

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18-Aug-2016, 11:55
Just developed two sheets - both taken in the studio with flashes - one with the Fujinon 250/6.7 and one with the 180/5.6 Rodenstock Sironar (which I was sure worked fine). Both seem to have come out perfectly :) And I also did a kind of stupid mistake today again: when changing lenses I involuntarily dislodged one side of the lens end of the bellows and noticed only after removing the dark slide and was going to take tbe exposure. I remedied after a few seconds had lapsed, and contrary to what I was expecting, the shot is ok.

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Michael E
18-Aug-2016, 15:34
Welcome to the forum. There are a lot more mistakes you can (and will) make - like for example traveling all day to get to a spot and taking great pictures and driving all night to get home and then finding that you took the empty film holders and left the loaded ones at home. SO far you're doing great.

That's why I store empty holders with the dark slides in the "exposed" position. I might find out in the darkroom that I have nothing to develop, but I'm safe in the field.

Jim Andrada
24-Aug-2016, 23:58
I tried that once but eventually ALL my holders were in the exposed position:(

Come to think of it. one winter in Boston after a heavy snowfall I went to a park where there was a nice brook and an almost frozen waterfall. Couldn't get the angle I wanted without turning the tripod column upside down and then I had to lie in the somewhat damp snow to see the ground glass.

Got home feeling sniffly and woke up the next AM with a case of pneumonia. A couple of weeks later I was feeling well enough to go to the darkroom and sure enough I'd used the empty holders again. At least it was only a 5 x 7, not a 16 x 20 or some such.

"Excuse me, Mr Brady, but I think the box with the glass plates fell off the mule."

25-Aug-2016, 00:01
What about placing large and vividly colored stickers on each side of the dark slides? As in red for exposed and green for unexposed? Maybe two on the un-exposed sude to tell the difference in the dark room. I am thinking of doing that...

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Jim Andrada
25-Aug-2016, 00:07
I've been trying that lately - so far it seems to work.

25-Aug-2016, 06:25

My routine:

Loaded holder: White Tab and coloured round sticker with a film and date noted.
Exposed holder: Black Tab and coloured round sticker with a film and date noted.
Empty holder: Black Tab, sticker removed.
Cleaned holder, ready to load: White tab, no sticker.
Loaded holder: White Tab and coloured round sticker with a film and date noted.

..and so on, sound perhaps cumbersome, but IMHO it is not & so far so good..

Good luck,