View Full Version : 4X5 negatives turned out opaque and tan

Gary L. Quay
30-May-2005, 18:36
I processed my first batch of sheet film today, and they turned out tan(ish) and opaque, although I could still make out the image. I used a small tank dip and dunk with D-76 diluted at 1:1 for 12.5 minutes like the instructions said. I agitated the film for the first 30 seconds, then every 30 seconds thereafter for 10 seconds. My temperature was 68 degrees, the stop and fixer were maybe 69 degrees. I stopped for 30 seconds and fixed for 5 minutes in Ilford rapid fixer, which instructed 2-5 minutes. Where did I go wrong? My film was T-Max 400. Any help would be appreciated.


ronald moravec
30-May-2005, 18:59
The fix did not fix. Check the fix with a small piece of undeveloped film. It should turn clear or the the color or the film base.

You mixed it improperly or it is out of date and/or separated. If out of date or separated with heavy solid on the bottom, throw it away. Alkaline TF4 is always separated and needs to be shaken before dilition.

Tom Perkins
30-May-2005, 19:12
Is the margin clear, or is it also opaque? If the margin is opaque, you're fogged in handling. Otherwise, it could be an aberration; the best way to find out is to expose a couple more negatives and try again. I stumbled on a technique I call "post exposure. That's when I pull the dark side on the rear, up against the focussing screen, instead of the one that points to the lens. Another way to screw it up is to forget to close the shutter before pulling the slide. But it happened to me last year in Jarbidge when I had done everything right and pulled the slide, just as a guy drove up to visit. So I held the slide in my hand for a few minutes and visited and then tripped the shutter, and I got what you got, and I wasn't trying for it, either. Sometimes I think some extra light gets trapped in there and makes trouble, although the scientific types would doubt me on that. It will also climb in the back where the filmholder goes in, so you have to drape your cloth over when you're pulling the slide. Light leaks are easy to detect, lots of threads on that, but yours doesn't sound like a pinhole. Maybe a great big one. The color sounds funny, too, so it may be the D-76 was made on a Friday afternoon, and you'll have to mix another batch. It sounds like you did everything right, so I wouldn't worry about it too much unless you eliminate every variable you can think of and it still happens. Good luck. I'm sure some of the others will have some better ideas.

Brian Ellis
30-May-2005, 20:39
"Tan" and "opaque" sounds to me like bad chemicals, maybe the developer, maybe the fix. How old were the stock developer and fix? How long between mixing the developer working solution and its use? I'd mix fresh developer (D76 stock from new powder, then new working solution) and fresh fix, process immediately after mixing the working solution. Make sure you don't get the fix and developer mixed up and develop the film in the fix then fix in the developer. I've seen that done by students and it leads to strange results though I don't recall whether they were "tan" and "opaque."

Eric Leppanen
30-May-2005, 21:07
Gary, I'm probably way out to lunch on this, but as someone who once made such an ignominious mistake, are you sure the film was properly loaded into the filmholder (emulsion side facing the shutter)? If the film was loaded backwards and exposed through the substrate you can get really interesting results.....

Donald Qualls
31-May-2005, 07:27
I'm with everyone else -- your fixer didn't work. My experience with Ilford Rapid Fixer is that it works fine and then, quite suddenly, doesn't work at all. The sooner the better, mix fresh fixer and refix your negatives (sooner because exposure to light will cause the undeveloped halide to "print out", reducing some silver without development and causing fog that fixer won't remove).

Gary L. Quay
31-May-2005, 10:04
Thanks for the answers. The consensus seems to be the fixer. I discovered later that the emulsions scratched very easily. I had used the fixer for a dozen prints, but I added new fixer to it before processing the negatives. I suppose I should have started with brand new fixer.

The developer was newly mixed on Friday afternoon (coincidentally funny, considering the reply from Tom Perkins above), and stored in airtight containers. I had considered badly loaded film, but there was 4 negs, I don't think I got them all wrong.

Thanks again.


Gary L. Quay
31-May-2005, 12:02
It was the fixer. Thanks for the help. I mixed some new fixer and it worked! Too bad the negs were scratched because I handled them while I was trying to figure out what was wrong. Ansel Adams suggested a two-stage fixing process. One new and one older, just to be certain that the fix works. I may try that in the future.