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Thread: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

  1. #11
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Gave it my best shot! Good Luck!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  2. #12

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Some of the marks at the right edge seem to conform to shadows that would be cast from the tabs on the Stearman Press holders. There are different versions of the holders though - have you checked to see whether there is any possible correlation with your tank holders and the light leaks? Is there any possibility of light strikes when the film is in the tank holders but before you put them into the tank? However, with all the leaks being towards the top, this suggests that they are happening whilst in the tank - either before the lid is put on, or leaks during processing. The curved horizontal band in the fourth neg does suggest the curvature of the Stearman tank.

    Do you always put the film with the notches at the top of the tank? Maybe try putting the notches at the bottom, and if your next light leak is on the other end of the neg then that would offer some clues.

    I hope you solve it. These would have been really nice images.

  3. #13

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Oh boy that was a bit of a pain to test lots of ideas out, but after sacrificing 6 more sheets of film, I now have the reason for the light leaks/fogging, please read on.

    So last night I took 4 films and treated them as follows... (6a etc. means film holder 6 side A)

    • 6a: Loaded a film from the box taking my time (about 2 mins before it went in the film holder), this was to test the light tent. I did not expose this, but it went in the camera when taking 6b.
    • 6b: Normal handling, took a photo about 3min exposure.
    • 1a: Normal handling, took a photo about 3min exposure, but covered the camera with the dark cloth.
    • 1b: Just as 6b, but I put the film in the holder upside down.


    In all cases I was careful to make sure the holder was not moved when pulling out the dark slide.

    I developed all these together in the SP-445 tank, and... all were perfect! by perfect I mean no light leaks, the photos were of nothing, I just wanted to go through the motion.

    So where did I go from there, well I read jonby's post where he says "Some of the marks at the right edge seem to conform to shadows that would be cast from the tabs on the Stearman Press holders"
    I decided to put the developed negatives back in the holders and lo and behold, the marks lined up! I would never have thought of this, I assumed that the tanks were light tight, well certainly light tight enough to handle in normal room light.

    So to test this out, I sacrificed another 2 sheets of film, I have been using Fomapan 100 for this, the cheapest I have to hand. I put one sheet of each straight from the film box into into each tank. Then put the tanks on the windowsill in full sunlight for a minute. Developed as normal, and the results are below.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20200406_4x5_tank A.jpg 
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Name:	20200406_4x5_tank B.jpg 
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    One is worse than the other, that came from the tank where the lid did not quite close as well as the other.

    Where do I go from here? do everything as I was doing but keep the tanks out of any kind of light and for the minimum of time. I sometimes loaded the tank and developed hours later. I never left them in the light, but they weren’t in the dark either, so from now on they will stay in the light tent till I am ready to develop. I have to say I do like the Stearman SP-445 tanks, very easy to load, handle and they use a small amount of solution, I will just have to be more careful in future. I could also use some black PVC tape around the joint when the lid is one just to be sure.

    It's taken weeks to sort out, about a full box of 25 sheet film wasted, but within 2 days of posting here, I got enough support to work it out. So I great big THANK YOU to all who contributed.

    Mike, [ much happier now ]

    PS: The reason for last night test of 4 film sheets was ok, was that it was late evening, not much light about and I developed them right after taking them.

  4. #14

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeOates View Post
    Oh boy that was a bit of a pain to test lots of ideas out, but after sacrificing 6 more sheets of film, I now have the reason for the light leaks/fogging, please read on.

    So last night I took 4 films and treated them as follows... (6a etc. means film holder 6 side A)

    • 6a: Loaded a film from the box taking my time (about 2 mins before it went in the film holder), this was to test the light tent. I did not expose this, but it went in the camera when taking 6b.
    • 6b: Normal handling, took a photo about 3min exposure.
    • 1a: Normal handling, took a photo about 3min exposure, but covered the camera with the dark cloth.
    • 1b: Just as 6b, but I put the film in the holder upside down.


    In all cases I was careful to make sure the holder was not moved when pulling out the dark slide.

    I developed all these together in the SP-445 tank, and... all were perfect! by perfect I mean no light leaks, the photos were of nothing, I just wanted to go through the motion.

    So where did I go from there, well I read jonby's post where he says "Some of the marks at the right edge seem to conform to shadows that would be cast from the tabs on the Stearman Press holders"
    I decided to put the developed negatives back in the holders and lo and behold, the marks lined up! I would never have thought of this, I assumed that the tanks were light tight, well certainly light tight enough to handle in normal room light.

    So to test this out, I sacrificed another 2 sheets of film, I have been using Fomapan 100 for this, the cheapest I have to hand. I put one sheet of each straight from the film box into into each tank. Then put the tanks on the windowsill in full sunlight for a minute. Developed as normal, and the results are below.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20200406_4x5_tank A.jpg 
Views:	15 
Size:	10.8 KB 
ID:	202301 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20200406_4x5_tank B.jpg 
Views:	20 
Size:	14.2 KB 
ID:	202302

    One is worse than the other, that came from the tank where the lid did not quite close as well as the other.

    Where do I go from here? do everything as I was doing but keep the tanks out of any kind of light and for the minimum of time. I sometimes loaded the tank and developed hours later. I never left them in the light, but they weren’t in the dark either, so from now on they will stay in the light tent till I am ready to develop. I have to say I do like the Stearman SP-445 tanks, very easy to load, handle and they use a small amount of solution, I will just have to be more careful in future. I could also use some black PVC tape around the joint when the lid is one just to be sure.

    It's taken weeks to sort out, about a full box of 25 sheet film wasted, but within 2 days of posting here, I got enough support to work it out. So I great big THANK YOU to all who contributed.

    Mike, [ much happier now ]

    PS: The reason for last night test of 4 film sheets was ok, was that it was late evening, not much light about and I developed them right after taking them.
    Now contact the manufacturer of the tank. Tell and show them the problem and ask them how they will solve it and make you whole for the loss of time, film and effort due to the problem.

  5. #15

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    I have 5 of the SP445 tanks and not one of then exhibits the problems associated with your light leaks. I assume you have assembled the thing with the 3 baffles alternating the openings and have the manufacturers lids and o-rings. The tab marks on the side of the film indicate you aren't cleaning your tanks film holders well enough or you have residue from using photoflo in the tank and have nothing to do with fogging. Don't take the lid off for washing until after you have fully fixed the film and started the washing process for a couple of minutes (NO peeking).

    I am betting at some point your film was fogged in the box, maybe during the loading of holders and just a bit of light hit the top edge of the film. I managed to do that with a new box of Bergger 400 by flipping on the light too early and film was in the open ended black plastic bag , not back in the box yet. Every image from that box has some light exposure at the notch end. I think of it as my 4x4 film cause I know I have to crop it.
    Adventure is worthwhile in itself. ... Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done. -- Amelia Earhart
    http://www.searing.photography

  6. #16

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Good perseverance and detective work and chimes with an experience I had but had forgotten about. Last year I was working abroad on a project using a number of different formats. Once, I put an exposed sheet in an SP-445 tank and it was at least day or day two before I loaded more and developed. I noticed that the sheet I had initially loaded had some odd light leaks and figured they must have come from the when it was in the tank. I meant to contact Stearman but was extremely busy so it passed by but did make a mental note not to do load and delay again. I rotary process mostly at home so it was only reading this that jogged my memory.

    I was always concerned that the top is slightly bowed so never fits quite flush with the tank. I did mention this to them straight after I bought it but was assured that it was normal and OK. I have had to move the O ring around now as it started to leak a little so maybe that could a source. Will follow with interest any developments.

    Richard

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    1,710

    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Penny wise, pound foolish.

    No possible way anyone could talk or sell me on any of this darkroom stuff unless the stuff has a LONG proven history and record of doing what it must do.. and the particular sample of the darkroom item must be tested to the best of it's ability to prove it does precisely what it must do.

    Consider the time wasted, effort wasted, film wasted, travel wasted, images lost, emotional stress caused by what happened.

    Was all that and more worth the $ saved?

    Second real test, what will be the manufactures response to these problems? While zero they can do now to compensate for the lost time, resources and images. how you're treated will tell a whole lot about this manufacture and brand.


    Personally, my tolerance for this kind of non-sense is zero. After doing this sheet film stuff for a few decades, the tolerance level for failures like this is extremely thin as there is just too much to risk with anything less than total reliable - predictable.

    For working photographers back in the days when sheet film color transparencies were it, stuff like this might happen once with an absolutely furious client that will never see you again and the odd of being struck as fail is high.

    Save a bit now, or draw out the actual cost of failures over the long run with continued problems... It is a choice.



    Bernice

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeOates View Post

    So to test this out, I sacrificed another 2 sheets of film, I have been using Fomapan 100 for this, the cheapest I have to hand. I put one sheet of each straight from the film box into into each tank. Then put the tanks on the windowsill in full sunlight for a minute. Developed as normal, and the results are below.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20200406_4x5_tank A.jpg 
Views:	15 
Size:	10.8 KB 
ID:	202301 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20200406_4x5_tank B.jpg 
Views:	20 
Size:	14.2 KB 
ID:	202302

    One is worse than the other, that came from the tank where the lid did not quite close as well as the other.

    Where do I go from here? do everything as I was doing but keep the tanks out of any kind of light and for the minimum of time. I sometimes loaded the tank and developed hours later. I never left them in the light, but they weren’t in the dark either, so from now on they will stay in the light tent till I am ready to develop. I have to say I do like the Stearman SP-445 tanks, very easy to load, handle and they use a small amount of solution, I will just have to be more careful in future. I could also use some black PVC tape around the joint when the lid is one just to be sure.

    It's taken weeks to sort out, about a full box of 25 sheet film wasted, but within 2 days of posting here, I got enough support to work it out. So I great big THANK YOU to all who contributed.

    Mike, [ much happier now ]

    PS: The reason for last night test of 4 film sheets was ok, was that it was late evening, not much light about and I developed them right after taking them.

  8. #18
    C. D. Keth's Avatar
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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Sounds like you should consider those "very subdued light tanks" rather than "daylight tanks."
    -Chris

  9. #19

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    It does seem very likely from your results that your problems have been caused by light leaks in the tanks during processing. I can't agree with esearing that the tab marks have nothing to do with fogging, though I think his advice about checking that you have put the tank parts together properly is sound. I have never used one of these tanks, so I don't know what the pitfalls are.

    However, now you are 90% sure what the problem is, you should be able to avoid it in future. You said it yourself: "PS: The reason for last night test of 4 film sheets was ok, was that it was late evening, not much light about and I developed them right after taking them." So the chances are that if you keep the tank in darkness up until you are ready to develop, and develop in conditions a bit dimmer than you had on that occasion, you should avoid further problems.

    Of course, it is a shame that it has taken so long and so much work to diagnose this problem, but my take on this is that it has not all been wasted effort. My experience has been that machines and complex tools, including photographic gear, are rarely perfect; and it doesn't matter how highly regarded they are or how much you spend - there will always be some kind of problem at some point. And when that problem arises, you will need the kind of skills you have learned by working through this problem to solve it. If you hadn't gone through this process, you might have spent a fortune in time and money changing your camera, holders, film, working methods etc. Instead, as well as some ruined film, you have the very valuable experience of having worked through a problem to its conclusion.

    Hope to see some perfect negatives soon!

  10. #20

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    Re: Light leak - driving me mad for weeks

    Light Leak Update: Solved...

    After a few emails with the manufacturer of the Stearman SP-445 tank, and to get to straight to the point, I was not closing the lid well enough and light was getting past the O-ring seal.

    I had pushed the lid on as far as I could and I thought the slight gap was normal. What I did not realise was that the O-ring was too dry. Now I don't mean it was not wet, I mean it was not lubricated. O-rings should be lubricated with Silicone grease, or, as I did not have any, Vaseline. So I removed the O-ring, applied a very small amount of Vaseline and wiped it off again so there was no apparent Vaseline remaining. Put the ring back on and the top now seated very well and very easily.

    Took a photo, developed and no light leaks.

    The use of the lubrication is on the products website, I just never thought I was having a problem. Because as I said before, I was looking at possible light leaks from everywhere except the developing tank! The lubrication only needs adding occasionally, and may last a number of cycles before needing to be reapplied.

    So problem solved.

    Mike

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