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Thread: Storing film after it is exposed

  1. #1

    Storing film after it is exposed

    Hello everyone,

    If I have exposed some 4x5 sheet film and can't develop it right away, for example out of town on a trip. Would the film be okay stored in a empty film box or would the sheets get scratched. Didn't know if they scratched easier once exposed.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Palo Alto, CA

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    I was in a similar situation recently and used an empty film box, but first put the film into a sandwich-sized zip lock to prevent any scratching or dust from the cardboard. It probably wasn't necessary, but made getting the film back out again real easy.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    I am new to 4x5 and this forum. Why not just leave the film in the film holder?

  4. #4

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    I usually do leave them in the holders but I am talking about if I want to reload the film holder before I can process the exposed film.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Calgary, Alberta

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed


    Film is resilient, but then again that is probably very conditional upon the storage environment...

    Periodically, while I am out and about for several days from my home base trying to capture a few images, I must remove the exposed film from the film holder and store this exposed film in a separate storage container. I store the exposed film in an appointed box for a specific development time, such as a box that is labeled "Normal." If I know that I shall be away for several days, I have a storage box for each development time, where the exposed film storage boxes are labeled "N-1, N-2, N+1, and N+2." I bring five 8x10 labeled film boxes to isolate the exposed film, and I bring two fifty sheet boxes of unexposed film to use during the excursion. These film items remain safely stored at my sleeping quarters inside an insulated "Wally-Mart Special" square picnic bag, while I am exploring, or hiking. Those insulated picnic bags hold my film boxes nicely...

    At the end of the day, and after I reviewed my exposure log book for each exposure, I separate and isolate the exposed negatives into their corresponding labeled storage box. So, if my exposure log book indicates that my exposed image should be developed at "N-1" I place that negative into my "N-1" film box, and if the box contains earlier exposed negatives for that development time, I carefully place the latest negative on top of the previous exposed negative. I do not worry about scratching the negatives, because I have never experienced this problem, and I cannot guarantee that I carried my exposed negatives properly to prevent their movement within the storage box. Could a scratch happen? You bet, but I am not reckless.

    That said however, I do pay strict attention to my cleanliness while removing the exposed negative from the film holder, because I do not want any extraneous solutions that may be on my finger tips to be transferred to the exposed film, while removing and storing the exposed film, so I wear cotton gloves after washing my hands to remove the exposed negatives from the film holders, and I wear cotton gloves to insert the fresh film into the cleaned film holder too. I also wrap two 8x10 exposed film boxes in a correctly sized plastic freezer bag, to prevent external moisture from possibly entering the storage boxes, but the most important reason for me to wrap the boxes in a freezer bag is that the closed freezer bag prevents the storage box from accidentally opening, especially if I grab the exposed box incorrectly, by which it drops, and the box opens according to Murphy's Law...

    The only time I leave my exposed film within the film holder happens to be when I am just a few hours from home.

    jim k

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Brooklyn, NY

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    I have found that when i leave exposed film in old film boxes, they get dusty. Its important to put your film in a plastic bag before putting in a film box.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    Film emulsions are no more delicate after exposure than they are before. Exposed film can be kept in a regular film box without risk.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Blue Jay, CA

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    I either put it in an old film box if I am traveling or unload the holders into my paper safe if I am at home. Then I put tape on the door of the safe to remind me not to open it. I've never viewed post-exposure dust as a problem. Dust at exposure, sure. Dust when drying, sure.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Stevens Point, WI

    Re: Storing film after it is exposed

    No matter what you do, you need good "film hygiene" to avoid problems.

    I use old film boxes that I keep clean. I vacuum them and the blow dust out and keep them in a plastic bag. I keep my changing bag clean as well. I have cut out many 4x5 sheets of 4-ply mat board that I also keep clean. I use BTZS development, so every sheet has a different development time. Keeping track of loose sheets can be a problem if not done well. I can process 6-sheets at a time, so I unload 3 holders (6 sheets) into the film box, then place a piece of mat board as a separator, and then repeat until the box is full. I keep careful notes so that I can identify the development times for each sheet. I load each 6 sheet batch in reverse order so I don't get confused about whether sheet #1 or #6 is on the top (it's always #6).

    When the film box is full, I tape it shut with masking tape and use a Sharpie to label the box with notes on the tape so that I can re-use the box.

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