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Thread: Dark Spots on film

  1. #1

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    Dark Spots on film

    Dark spots appear all over a group of 4x5 negatives I just processed. (See samples).
    All the images were shot using a lens I haven't used for a while, an old 12" Kodak Ektar. While the lens looks clean to the naked eye, I'm wondering if the spots are originating from the lens. I don't think they're being caused during the film's processing.

    Can anyone help?

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
    Cor's Avatar
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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Would be very surprised if it was the lens.

    what film did you use ?

    what developer ?

    Best,

    Cor

  3. #3

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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    The "blotchy" shape of them seems to suggest something in the wet step of the process... Sometimes algae or particulate in some solution or wash will shotgun prints or negs... (Looks like neg...)

    Clean all processing gear carefully, filter solutions, and change (or add) a water filter... And clean/wipe down drying (and work) areas...

    Also, now that it's getting cooler there, your furnace might be on for the season, and filters and ducts might be spewing stuff that's getting on your film or in solutions... Clean 'em!!!

    Steve K

  4. #4

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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Also, flush out your water lines to the lab well...

    I'm thinking some sludge is attaching itself to the film before/during development, and inhibiting full development under those spots... (chem/water line/dust bunnys, lint, etc...)

    High power lupe your negs and see if there are semi-clear spots there...

    Steve K

  5. #5
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    I agree with both preceding posts. Also, air bells can cause dark areas on a print, although usually larger and circular.

  6. #6
    John Olsen
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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Ditto on LabRat's comments, plus: Sludge grows in Photoflo tanks like crazy after a couple of months. Scrub out the tank and mix fresh with bottled water on a monthly basis. That's helped me a lot.

  7. #7

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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Quote Originally Posted by Cor View Post
    Would be very surprised if it was the lens.

    what film did you use ?

    what developer ?

    Best,

    Cor
    The film is Tri-X developed for 7 minutes in HC-110 Dilution H.

    Since all of the respondents so far have suggested that the likely culprit is in processing, I'll review all of my darkroom steps. I tray process in a very routinized fashion, and have been doing so for the past twenty-five years. There's a slim possibility that I may have contaminated the developer by introducing a new syringe into the HC-110 after the old one fell apart (I find that a syringe is easier to use in the syrupy HC-110 rather than trying to measure out the developer in a graduate). I'll start out with fresh chemistry, run some tests using the same lens and see if that corrects the glitch.

    Thanks!

  8. #8

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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Quote Originally Posted by John Olsen View Post
    Ditto on LabRat's comments, plus: Sludge grows in Photoflo tanks like crazy after a couple of months. Scrub out the tank and mix fresh with bottled water on a monthly basis. That's helped me a lot.
    Yes, I'll freshen every chemical in the process, including the photo-flo. Thanks, John.

  9. #9
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Kalman View Post
    Dark spots appear all over a group of 4x5 negatives I just processed. (See samples).
    These are dark spots on the print, which would be light spots on the negative. Which indicates dust on the film before exposure. When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your bellows?

    Bruce Watson

  10. #10

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    Re: Dark Spots on film

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    These are dark spots on the print, which would be light spots on the negative. Which indicates dust on the film before exposure. When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your bellows?
    I never thought of that!! Actually, I've never cleaned the bellows, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm not sure how to go about doing it...

    So, I just checked the forum archives; there's plenty of advice on cleaning and maintaining the exterior of the bellows and on eliminating musty odors. There's nothing that seems definitive about cleaning the inside of the bellows, however.

    Can anyone suggest how to effectively dust the insides?

    As I've been thinking about the possible cause of the dark spots---my original reason for the post---and Bruce Watson's suggestion that it's dust on the film makes the most sense to me. That's because I used the 12 inch Ektar for the entire portrait shoot, and I racked out the bellows much further than I normally do. In doing so, I probably disturbed the dust "sleeping" within the folds of the bellows. (I'm going to compare the negatives at the beginning of the shoot, when the bellows were not racked out, to those taken after I stretched the bellows to make close ups).

    The other respondents' suggestions that the dark spots are probably caused by less than pristine chemicals / water / darkroom conditions seems less plausible to me because I've experienced this before (dirty photo-flo, dust in the darkroom, to cite two examples) and those flaws in the negative look different than these. While I will start out with all fresh chemistry when I run some tests, I think my problem is dusty bellows rather than bad chemicals.

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