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Thread: Best process for drying negatives after development?

  1. #1

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    Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I've started developing my 4x5 b&w negatives at home, but I'm running into a problem when it comes to drying the negatives.

    If I squeegee the negative with this film squeegee, I get "tracks" on the negative. A couple of times they looked like scratches, but generally it's looked more like the "tracks" you'd see on a vinyl record (lots of tracks/grooves in the same direction.

    If I don't squeegee all of the water off of the negative, I end up with water spots.

    Bonus question: Whatever I use to hold the negative gets stuck to it when it dries (clothes pin, metal clip, plastic clip) and damages the negative. Is there a way to avoid this?

    Do you guys have any suggestions on how best to dry negatives?

    I'll upload a couple of examples when I'm back at that computer.

    Development details:
    film: Ilford Delta 100
    developer: Rodinal 1:25
    stop bath: Ifostop
    fixer: Ilford Rapid Fixer
    soap: 1m photo-flo

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by jpheneger; 22-Jul-2018 at 10:41. Reason: Adding example images

  2. #2
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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I don't squeegee film, ever - I'm not willing to take the risk of damage.

    I dunk each sheet film negative in Photo-Flo 200 diluted 1+300, then hang it up by the corner to dry. Before I leave the darkroom after hanging up the negatives and cleaning up, I take a paper towel and gently touch the corner of each hanging negative to absorb the bead of Photo-Flo/water that has accumulated in the lower corner of the negative up to that point; this prevents getting Photo-Flo/water spot residue in the corner of the negative.

    The clips I use do leave "tooth marks" in the far corner of the negative, generally outside of the exposed area. It doesn't bother me.

  3. #3

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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I think I'm going to retire the squeegee - it doesn't seem to be necessary when using the photo-flo.

    Now that I've looked at my negatives again I'm starting to think that this might not be from squeegee, its too uniform. Three images from the same batch all show uniformly vertical lines/tracks/grooves from top to bottom and the whole width of the negative. This has to be from the scanner. I'm using an Epson v550, making 2 scans of the negative, and then stitching it together in PS.

  4. #4
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    Skip the Photo-flo, just dip the negs in distilled water so there's nothing to leave a residue when dry. And yeah, retire the squeegee. Hang by a corner to dry in a cabinet or somewhere dust-free. Dust loves to stick to wet negatives. Anything you clip on the corner will stick, because the wet gelatin dries in contact under pressure. Just clip onto the corner outside the image area.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  5. #5

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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I just re-scanned one of the negatives, but this time I rotated it 90 degrees. The banding is there, but it is still vertical. This tells me its an issue with the scanner. I'm using this scanner because its the only one I have, and since it doesn't support 4x5 there is no holder - the negative is sitting directly on the glass.

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I think water and air humidity varies vastly.

    I run all my wash water hot and cold through filters. Mix all chems with distilled. And humidify in winter.

    I also ‘think’ TF5 helps. I dab like Oren but use Kodak film drying bars with 2 tiny sharp bites. Nearly invisible and designed to hang at an angle. I found a NOS box of them.

    Now if I can find them for the new Darkroom...

  7. #7

    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    I never got consistently good results using squeegees. I washed my hands very thoroughly, dipped them in the Photo-Flo, shook them off, carefully pinched and slid my fingers along one side, shook again, then did the same to the other side. Beware the danger of hangnails.

  8. #8

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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    Randy, I have never seen a Kodak film drying bar but it sure sounds like something I could use. Can you show us one? I googled but didn't really know what I was looking for.

    My drying procedure is pretty much the same as Oren. I use clothespins with a hook on them for hanging. They are not perfect because they don't grab the film as tightly as I would like (hence my question to Randy). For this reason, I always hang the film over a tray of fresh water. If the film should fall off, which is rare, it falls into water and not into potential dust. As long as it doesn't stay in the water a long time, it's ok. I also dry in a film drying cabinet to avoid dust.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    The actual name is Kodak Film Hanger which is confusing as there are 2 different objects with the same name.

    Evidently for Dip and Dunk, but I use the Box style Kodak film hangers in Gas Burst.

    This is a set of 4. I have 20 of them and they fit any film I use, 4X5 and smaller are hung 2 up. 14X36" works great too with one on each end.

    Actually, I develop by slosh 14X36" using 2 as handles.

    Kodak Film Hanger by TIN CAN COLLEGE, on Flickr

  10. #10
    Christopher Barrett's Avatar
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    Re: Best process for drying negatives after development?

    One of the many things I miss about Acros, the little hole in the corner, so you could hang sheets on paperclips to dry.

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