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Thread: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

  1. #1
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    Ahoy! I thought I'd add a specific place where we can troubleshoot.
    As a first example, I've been getting ridges on some plates (not all of them).



    I was first told it's my collodion losing alcohol (I use the same bottle to pour excess back into).
    So I added 40mL of alcohol to about 200mL of collodion, but the ridges still happen, though again, not every time. About 3 out of 4 plates.

    Could it be my developer pour?
    I use a tray. I place the plate at one end, I pour developer at the other end, then tilt the tray to wash developer over the plate.
    Development is a constant 15s.

    I clean my holder after each plate, wiping it down with a paper towel.

    Any help appreciated, thanks.
    Last edited by Ari; 9-Aug-2020 at 07:47.

  2. #2
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    I got a bunch of black spots on my last two tins so I decided to do some maintenance. I could see some nasty bits in the bottom of my collodion bottle, so instead of dumping it out I started a second bottle with new chemicals. I'll use the old bottle for test plates until it's gone, then clean it out really well. I decided that while I was at it I would filter my silver. So, I poured most of it into a 1,000ml beaker. Filter looked clean. I then shook what was left in the tank for awhile and then filtered it into a 500ml cylinder. There was some black bits in the filter when I did that. Obviously there was crud in the bottom of the tank. Maybe that was the problem? The tank would have been shaken around while I was driving and some black bits could still be in suspension. I checked specific gravity while I was at it, and it was right around 106.5 same as the last time I checked. I don't think it changes very quickly.

    While I was messing with the silver, which I hate doing, I decided to top it off with some distilled water to bring the level back up. I poured about 100ml into the silver in the 500ml cylinder and it looked clear. I went to let the cat out and when I returned I saw there was a definite blue tint to the solution! Not a strong tint but obviously the Walmart distilled water I've been using isn't 100% pure. At that point I decided to sun all of it again. I poured it all into my big glass jar, put the nylon stocking over the top, and set it in the sun. Had to bring it in for the night but will stick it back out tomorrow. After a day in the sun I'll filter it again and put it back in the tank.

    Finally, I mixed up some UVP brand copper developer. Instead of mixing it 1:1 I mixed it `1:2 as suggested by Brian at UVP. Will have to order more, along with some more collodion as I'm now out.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    Nice rundown of your problems and solutions, Kent.
    After a while, this should become routine and part of a regular cycle of cleaning and maintenance.

    After about 25-30 4x5 plates, I too "sunned" my silver, then filtered it. There was some collodion, but not much else, stuck in the filter.
    SG was also at 1.065 after adding some distilled water.
    I have a box full of raw chemicals, just waiting for me to finish the B&S chemicals, so I look forward to mixing my own stuff, though I'm not looking forward to dealing with the Cadmuim and Potassium.

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    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    By the way, just wanted add another photo with brief comment.
    The ridges are still there, so I cleaned my holder very thoroughly, and will start practicing developer pouring/sweeping.
    I'll forego the tray developing method to see if that's the problem, but I'm sure that will cause other problems that I'm already familiar with.
    Anyway, here's a shot from 2 days ago:



    I ran out of hypo, couldn't find my 5 gallons of Ilford Rapid Fix, so in a pinch, I used Photographer's Formulary TF-5 fixer.
    I mixed it 1:9, a very weak solution. Despite that, it's a very contrasty fixer.
    One plate that I forgot in the fixer for 5 minutes went black in areas, so I had to make sure to fix plates for only 3-4 minutes.

    Anyone ever tried TF-5 on wet plate? It smells like regular hypo, but it most definitely adds more contrast.
    Not sure I like it, but I was glad to have found some when I needed it.

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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    This will not be helpful...but I really love those artifacts! You might want to read some of the writings of Sally Mann about how such "mistakes" can add character and enhance context, depending on subject matter.

    Again...my apologies for not being helpful!

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    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    I know what you mean, John.
    I suppose I'd just like to be able to control the process a little more, and get clean plates when I want them.
    If I don't want them, I can be sloppy and let the magic happen.
    But I think there's more to this than mistakes and artifacts. My $0.02.

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    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    I'll follow up with examples later, but the ridges were due to my developer technique.
    Today, I put the plate in the tray, pushed into a corner, then swept the developer over one edge of the plate in one quick motion.
    I tried keeping developer on the plate as much as I could but some small undeveloped areas persist.
    At least I found out what was wrong and now I gotta work on getting my technique down.
    Thanks to all who helped!

  8. #8

    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    Yep, I am not surprised that the marks you were getting were 90% the result of pour technique of the developer. Aim to get the whole plate covered within the first second of the pour, and worry less about some of it slopping over the edges. You can finesse the technique as you go.
    I find it helpful to establish a set amount of developer needed for any given plate size. For 4x5's, I measure out 25ml of developer. That way, I know that I need to use the entire amount I have poured out, so its easier (in my mind) to quickly slop the entire contents of the beaker across the plate, which generally results in a very even, fast application of the developer with very little spill-over.

    Ultimately, this is all about practicing the various actions and determining what kind of dexterity is required to execute each. It CAN be learned. (You're making excellent progress, I assure you)

    PS: if getting the developer to stay on the plate (IE: prevent having it creep back from the sides) is an issue, then add a few more ml of alcohol to your developer, and see how the next plate works. Most times, the addition of a bit more alcohol (the surfactant) will prevent the devloper from creeping back from the edges, and also tends to give you a much better spread of developer during the initial pour.

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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    I will add that when I pour on the developer, I'm using a small 100ml beaker. For 4x5 I use about 20 ml, for 8x10 35-40ml. When pouring, I don't use the built in spout but rather the opposite side of that. That spreads the fluid out in a sheet better. I hold the tin at a slight downward angle to get it moving across the tin and then level it. I then begin shaking it very aggressively side to side and then front to back. This forces developer over the spots not covered. Once I see the entire thing is covered I will slow the shaking down and just let it sit, watching the image take shape. Having lots of red light on the plate is important here. When it looks ready I quickly dump the developer off and drop it into the water tray.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

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    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Troubleshooting, or What the Hell Is That?

    Thank you, Paul and Kent. Great stuff.
    I'm doing about 95% of what you're saying, but as always, the devil is in the details. Thus the problems I was having.
    As of today, my plates are starting to look like typical beginner developer pours, which I prefer over the ridges.

    As always, when we eliminate one problem, another appears.
    Now I'm getting vertical lines on my plates, more pronounced in the first plate:





    Any ideas as to what it is? It's not in the scans, it's on the plates. I can't think of any equipment I have that would cause the lines.
    My plates go in the silver bath the other way, i.e., horizontally.
    I did keep the collodion cold, as it was very humid today. I had an ice pack in the cooler along with all the chemicals. Maybe the collodion was too cold?

    Side note: I'm pleased with these plates, technically. While the development missed in spots, the rest is better.
    I did no correction at all on these plates other than re-size them for the web.

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