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Thread: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

  1. #11

    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Are you using dry chemicals to develop the film? If so, maybe they're not fully dissolved.

    I use the MDO54 and the twirl stick with no issues. But I also invert the tank twice during developing.

    If nothing else, shoot a sheet, develop it, run some stop bath (not water!) on it and check it before you fix it. If the blotchiness appears, then you know it's in the developer stage and not the fixer.

    The reason you don't see it on the reveal of the film is that portion of the emulsion has been completely removed by the fixer. So any blotchiness will not bee seen there, but may be visible with the above method.

  2. #12

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Joker, I've been handling the negs by the edges - I may have touched the picture area occasionally but not over the entire frame. I've been loading the tank with clean hands. The sheets were loaded correctly into their slots and were still in their slots when I took them out, with no contact between sheets. I rinse out and dry the tank and the holder thoroughly before I process a new batch, and also rinse my graduates in between mixing different chemicals.

    480sparky, I am using dry chemicals. I made sure when I was making the stock developer that the water was at the correct temperature and I stirred until the developer was clear. I dilute the developer 1:1 at 75 degrees fahrenheit right before I do my processing, and discard it afterwards.

    The idea that it's something to do with the developer or the agitation makes sense given the patchy look of the defect, but I would think those problems would affect all sheets in a tank, or at least adjacent sheets. The positioning of the sheets in the holder didn't seem to be associated with which ones had the issue.

    I had another thought about this - so far I've done four batches of six. My first batch turned out normally.

    On the second batch of six I had the problem happen on only one sheet. It was a sheet where I had made a mistake during exposure - I partially pulled out the dark slide for a second while the shutter was still open. I was fully expecting the sheet to be at least partially flashed, so when I saw the patchy pattern I assumed it was flashing, even though I had never seen it take on that sort of a look before. I've only seen light contamination show up as solid gradations of additional density, not patches.

    On my third batch, when it happened to two negatives out of six, I wasn't sure what was going on. I didn't remember making any mistakes with the dark slide, but for some of the exposures I was doing fairly rapid re-loads so it's possible I made some kind of error, or that the film holder was leaking light. I made note of which film holders had the problem, and made test exposures using those holders, making sure that my reloading technique was correct.

    On the fourth batch I had five negatives: the three test exposures and two sheets from the previous shoot. All the test exposures came out normally but one of the other two had the problem.

    I didn't even bring up the possibility of flashing on the original post because the problem doesn't look like it to me, but I suppose what happened upstream of processing may have been a factor.

  3. #13

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Let's analyze a bit before speculating: First, the defect consists of increased density, i.e., either more development or more exposure. Second, the underlying exposure seems correct. Third, it only happens on a sheet or two (or none) from each batch.

    The latter seems to eliminate anything to do with the processing per se, and with it, the extra development possibility unless there is some kind of chemical contamination that causes increased sensitivity/accelerates development for random sheets.

    Finally, whatever it is, it seems to happen when the darkslide is out and during exposure since the clear film edges are not affected.

    So, as Sherlock so wisely said, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Therefore, I'm going with more exposure as the source of the defect and at the time of making the photograph, i.e., in camera.

    It really does look like a strange light-strike to me. I'd check for a light leak in your camera or lensboard first. Do the classic light-leak test with a bare bulb inside the camera in a dark room. Don't forget to check the light-tightness of the lens/lensboard as well. I'll wager you'll find your problem there, or in the form of a leaky darkslide (take them out and hold them to the sun and see if there are cracks/holes in them).

    Good luck finding your problem.

    Doremus

  4. #14

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    I haven't seen anything like this on film, but I have had issues with poorly stored paper that look similar. The possibility of a storage problem was mentioned above by bw-man. Was your film fresh and properly stored? My paper suffered from storage in an environment with fluctuating temperature. I think this can cause condensation on the paper, or film surface, and leads to patterns similar to your negatives. It doesn't affect every sheet, but most likely those nearer the top of the pile.
    Alex.

  5. #15

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Doremus, the fact that you think it looks like a light strike makes me want to investigate the idea that it happens during exposure. If it's an exposure problem it's intermittent, because I've had both good and bad exposures with the same film holder/camera/bellows/lens board.

    I'll see if there's any light leaks in the camera. It also occurred to me that the holder might not always be seating completely tight in the camera back.

    I'll also expose a few sheets while intentionally making errors with the shutter and slide to see if light contamination through error looks like what I've been seeing.

    When I process the tests I'll use tank inversion for agitation instead of the spindle.

    I also shot some Portra 160 during the same session as some of the affected Tri-X. I sent the Portra out to a professional lab, so when I get those back on Monday if the problem exists on those sheets I'll for sure know it was an exposure problem.

    alexmuir, I bought the film new (expiration 11/2017) and it was at room temperature or moderate outdoor temps the whole time before the first problem sheet turned up. I did take a car trip with it after the first batch which would have exposed it to higher temps, but for the most part it's been in a pretty stable environment.

  6. #16

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    It shows up on some of the Porta sheets I just had processed by a professional lab, so it's definitely an exposure problem.

  7. #17
    Christopher Barrett's Avatar
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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    I got one like this recently. Mistakenly let my holder sit in direct sun coming in the studio window. Someone else posted similar issue, either here or on the FaceBook LF group (I forget). Let me guess... Toyo holder? I think their dark slides are not quite fully opaque.

  8. #18

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Yes, it was a Toyo holder. My holders are brand new so it doesn't seem like they should be leaking. If the sunlight is getting through the dark slide itself that would account for the patchy texture.

    What precautions should I take to avoid this? Keep the holders in some kind of sleeve until I make the exposure? How long does the holder have to be exposed to the sun for this to take place? Is less intense light also a potential problem?

  9. #19
    Christopher Barrett's Avatar
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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    Yeah, mine are brand new too, as was the other person's who posted a similar blotchiness. The fact that the fogging isn't localized to any specific area tells me that it's not a light leak, but rather coming through the face of the whole slide. We need to have a talk with Toyo. In the meantime, just use caution and keep the holders out of any direct sunlight. Come to think of it, when I still shot holders for architecture, we were always very careful to keep them out of the sun.

    You'd think that dark slide would be totally opaque, eh?

  10. #20

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    Re: Blotchy pattern on 4x5 negatives

    I've had this very same issue that I posted about here. I hadn't mentioned they were new TOYO holders though. Never thought that would be the issue since they were brand new. Glad to have some explanation finally but regretting the purchase.
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