View Full Version : Development problem

Julio Barros
1-Jan-2006, 10:50
Hi everyone,

I'm fairly new to large format and brand new to 8x10. I've had a 4x5 for a little less than a year and recently got an 8x10. I was testing it out trying to figure out how everything worked and I took the picture below. The proportion is strange because I scanned it using my 4870 just for this post. As you see it has a problem right in the middle of the negative. Does anybody have an idea on what may have gone wrong? Is it a light leak? Why is it in the middle and not along the edges? The film is Arista.edu ultra developed in D76 1:1 for about 10 minutes using an 8x10 unicolor drum and roller.

Thanks in advance.



Eric Brody
1-Jan-2006, 11:37
I use 4x5, not 8x10, but a few questions arise. I assume the defect is really on the negative, not in the scanner, eg you can see a dark area on the film itself. Assuming this to be the case, I'd first check the bellows. The traditional way to do this is to take the camera into a darkroom, remove the back of the camera, cover the back of the camera with a darkcloth, turn off the lights, place a small flashlight inside the camera and look to see if you have a "starry night" bellows. Pinholes in a bellows can cause this type of defect.

Flare from a light source could also do it. Your scene looks like there was strong light coming from the right. You might set up a scene with similar lighting and check if you can see any lens flare on the ground glass, and if so check if a lens shade helps.

It is hard to see how a developing problem could have caused this unless some developer splashed onto the film prior to development, but this seems unlikely. A problem with a film holder should have produced a problem along the edge.

Unless someone else has a better answer, and they may, my money's on a bellows defect or lens flare. I'd appreciate hearing how it turns out.

Good luck.

Julio Barros
1-Jan-2006, 11:54
Thanks for your comments. Yes, the defect definitely is on the negative.

This is a well worn camera with an old bellows but I did check it as you described beforehand. It has a lot of tape on it and I added some more to fix a couple of new pinholes. So it should have been pretty well sealed. I'll check it again tonight.

As to the flare idea, there is a strong light from the right but I was shooting from the shade of a large bush/tree. I'm pretty sure the lens was in the shade.

I'll shoot something else in a little in similar conditions to see if I have the same problem. Thanks again.


Leonard Evens
1-Jan-2006, 13:48
If you aren't used to developing 8 x 10 film in a drum, it could be an artifact of the development process, although it is hard to see how that would have produced just that sort of pattern. You could try developing one sheet of exposed film in a tray to see if you get anything similar.

Donald Qualls
1-Jan-2006, 14:50
If the film was developed in a drum or tube with the base side in contact with the container, it's possible this is an area of faint antihalation dye retention; I've got a couple negatives that had this in a fashion that wasn't visually easy to see but showed quite strongly in a print or scan. Soaking in alkalized hypo clearing solution or plain sodium sulfite solution with added alkali (I use 2% sodium sulfite solution with 1 teaspoon laundry soda per quart) will clear the dye in a couple minutes; you will want to rewash after this treatment, of course. I do this routinely with negatives developed in tubes, as they almost always need it.

However, it looks more like a light leak, either from a bad film holder or a holder that wasn't correctly seated in the camera back. Bellows pinholes will (in my experience) cause either a more general fog or a "flowing water" type appearance, depending on severity of the leaks and ambient light conditions, or occasionally a twisting, jiggling line where an image of the sun or other bright light has been projected while the camera was moving (the latter two types are unusual in large format, however, because its less common to move the camera after the dark slide is out); the kind of "wash" fogging in this image is more what I've experienced with leaking film holders (when you use 70 year old plate cameras, leaks are part of the experience). Leaking holders will also sometimes show (with magnification) cast shadows of dust grains on the film surface, which will clearly indicate where the light originated.

Examination of the negative should show whether it's developed silver or residual dye; then you can proceed accordingly.

Richard Rankin
1-Jan-2006, 17:18

If thats the camera I've used, it's been used in strong sunlight, so I sort of doubt it is a bellows pinhole. I tend to agree with Donald. My guess, especially given the apparent geometry of the area, is more like a slipped holder or the back pulled a little loose inserting a dark slide or something along those lines.

I've only had leaks like that in corners, and can't really see how it would be in the middle, but it seems more likely than a pinhole leak.


Julio Barros
1-Jan-2006, 19:35
I took another very similar photo and was very careful with flare and development and had the same problem. Exact same shape pattern appears a little lower than center in the negative.

So, I don't think it is development (ie. film sticking to the side of the drum).

I used the other side of the same film holder. I have used this film holder indoors with flash and did not have a problem . I've only taken ~6 8x10 images. The first two were ruined by operator error. The next two were taken with flash and look fine. The last two, with a different camera outdoors, had this problem.

I checked the bellows again and found more small pinholes in the corners when the bellows is extended significantly. These photos were taken with a 240mm at about 10-15 feet so the bellows were actually still pretty compressed.

Whats the best way to repair pinholes? I've seen mention of automotive plastic/paint what is it exactly?

Thanks again to everyone.


btw, Richard no, it is not that camera. I went crazy over christmas and bought a used Deardorff off of ebay. I wasn't ripped off or anything but it is a lot more used than I expected. I did it because I want to experiment with front tilt in some portraits similar to these www.juliobarros.com/PreciousThings/index.html (http://www.juliobarros.com/PreciousThings/index.html) that I did with my 4x5.

Richard Rankin
1-Jan-2006, 22:11

Bostick-Sullivan sells a bellows patch kit here:


If you get an all-new bellows, I just got a new one for my 11x14 from Camera Bellows in the UK and it is a superb piece of workmanship:


although I've heard that there is a US source that is good. I also got a quote from Richard Ritter but it was out of my price range.

Good luck with that Deardorff. I'm glad you liked 8x10!



3-Jan-2006, 06:10
I've gotten very similar flare when using glass filters on the front of a lens - I solved the problem by getting an adapter and using the filter on the rear of the lens inside the camera. You don't say if you use a filter, but I would suspect flare or a light leak of some kind, as others have said.