View Full Version : rescuing idiots: developing backwards film

katie cooke
20-Aug-2007, 00:50
I found something yesterday I had never done before: a couple of sheets of film loaded backwards in the holders. They were exposed normally, on HP5+ rated at 400, in very soft low-contrasty outside light...

Is there any chance of rescuing them with a couple of extra stops of development? More? Less? Or has exposing them from the wrong side given them such faint wisps of light through the dye and base that even processing as 1600 or so is likely to be a washout? Anyone clawed back from such idiocy before?

note to self for future reference: do not take part in an interesting conversation while loading a dozen holders.

Mark Sampson
20-Aug-2007, 05:43
I've done that once or twice, but only found out after developing. The images were way thin- not even worth proofing. You've got nothing to lose- I'd say push the film as far as you can and see what happens.

20-Aug-2007, 06:09
I've done that too, but only with Ortho, which has no notches. A real bugger to load!!

Jim Jones
20-Aug-2007, 06:48
Whatever 4x5 film I used back in the 60s lost about one stop of light through the antihalation layer when loaded upside down. This might vary widely with other films. Try developing as though it was underexposed by one or, maybe better yet, two stops.

Ken Lee
20-Aug-2007, 07:10
This is certainly a case where DBI (development by inspection) comes in handy. I have made other blunders, and been able to remedy them on the spot, by using my handy Infra Red monocular (http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/tech/tech.html#Monocular) while developing my film.

I once discovered - while the negatives were in the soup - that my developer was too old. I simply mixed up some new developer, and added it. By that time, there was no way to determine the "correct" developing time, so I just developed the negatives until each looked... perfect. Things worked out just fine.

The viewing device has paid for itself many times over.

20-Aug-2007, 07:27
If the images are important to you, expose some more film the same way and do some experiments.

katie cooke
20-Aug-2007, 09:53
so... in the end there were four backwards negs out of sixteen. The negs weren't crucial, but from a playing-about-project, so I pushed a couple of them two stops (to 1600) in HC-110, and stand-developed the other two in 1:150 Rodinal. One of the pushed negs looks pretty good and almost normal, the other, um, seems like I underexposed it to start with and it's horribly thin. Damn. Of the stand-developed ones, ditto, though the thin one looks almost usable.

None of them, though, were pictures to write home about and none of them would have been serious keepers even if the exposure and development had been perfection incarnate. I think the luck fairy was with me after all, as, fortunately all the better ones were loaded right way around. Phew!

If I make a habit of this, and I seriously hope I don't, I'll have to look into the kit for developing by inspection.

Thanks for the ideas!

20-Aug-2007, 13:46
Depending on how critical one's focusing is, the emulsion of the backward film would not the same plane as the ground glass -- but just the thickness of the film off. Closed down it may not even be an issue, but if things are tighter, it could cause problems.


katie cooke
21-Aug-2007, 07:36
This is one of the pushed but very thin and hugely grainy results. I took to the streets with the LF camera for the first time, and accosted perfect strangers (mostly street performers from the Fringe Festival) and chatted them up until they agreed to pose for me. And, as I was already being brave, I decided to go wide open on almost all of them as well.

Five other, more regular ones, from that day are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heyoka

Ken Lee
21-Aug-2007, 08:22
I think this one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/heyoka/136349203/in/set-72057594141876470/) is really wonderful.