first time developer help?!

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by joshua_son, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. Hello.
    I just recently got into film shooting. Im from a small town and nobody I know shoots film or ever has before except for the grouchy owner of the local photo shop. I went for bw film in a canon ae1 since I already had lenses for the fd system. I shot my first 2 rolls of film (illford hp4 iso 400 and trix400 pushed to 1600) and went to develop them tonight. I just finished mixing my xtol and diluting my stop bath and fixer all from kodak. I majorly screwed up the development on the hp5 (loaded the reel wrong) but when I went to develop the roll of trix400 it came out totally blank! I used xtol 1:1 and followed kodaks recommended 12 minute development time for film pushed to 1600. I am absolutely positive that my shutter works, I didn't accidentally use fixer first, amd my developer should have been 20 degrees c. It has me really confused and im wondering what it could be? Surely the developer couldnt have died within an hour of mixing it? I put it in 5 1 liter pet bottles.
    Really hope some more experienced individuals can help me out with this. If I left out any important info let me know. I did this all in a dark room lit only by a safety light. Maybe I left the fixer in too long?
  2. AJG


    Can you see the frame numbers at the edge of the film? If so, then your processing was fine. Was there one heavy black frame at the beginning of the roll and the rest was blank? Then the film didn't take up properly, most likely due to a loading mistake. Let us know, and someone will help you figure this out.
  3. If everything on the Tri-X film is clear, you fixed it first, or you contaminated your developer with stop bath or fixer. Developer must have a basic pH, if it goes acid, it's dead. Stop and (most) fixer are acidic.
  4. No markings at all. There is one section about 3 or 4 inches
    long on one end that is pretty dark then on the other end about
    8 or 9 inches that is darker than the rest of the film but not as
    dark as the three inches at the other end.

    Hopefully that makes sense.
  5. John,

    If the tank still had a little fixer left in it from the last roll of film
    would that have killed it? I have all my bottles very clearly
    marked so I didn't mess up there. But I don't think I rinsed the
    tank out as it didn't come to using the liquid kodafix
    diluted to film solution. I understand if I made a stupid mistake
    as its my first time. Just want to get it right for the next roll. The
    one im now afraid to develop has some shots from a recent trip
    to Mexico. I might put off developing it and shoot a few rolls of
    another film to practice on..
  6. OK FP4 is ISO/ASA 125 HP5 is Iso 400. If every thing is clear one of 2 things. Your Xtol was dead or you did do fixer first. Just because it was in a new package... Here is a little test. Take part of a leader from a new roll of film. Put a drop of your developer on it. If it turns dark in a minute the developer is still good. Xtol is a great developer but it can go bad even in the package and if you mix it wrong.
  7. Oops sorry about the typo. It was hp5. I ruined that roll by
    improperly loading the reel. (Dont ask). The roll that came out
    completely clear was kodak trix400. I just checked my xtol from
    the same bottle like you suggested ( I stored it in 5 1 liter
    bottles) and it definitely is still alive and well. I also checked the
    shutter on my ae1 to make sure that it is working and it is
    working normally. When winding I get the squeal but other than
    that all is well.

    I know I didnt use fixer first. I have my fixer in a gallon jug and
    my xtol in 1 liter bottles. The only way fixer was in there was if
    some was still in the tank from my last roll I developed a few
    minutes beforehand. I didnt rinse it out but had dumped it.

    Could the small amount of kodafix in the tank from the previous
    roll kill the xtol before it could develop the new one? If so I think
    I have my answer.....stupid me lol.
  8. Xtol is loving death that is why I use it one shot diluted 1-1.
  9. Once you figure out what went wrong this time, then you can go on to other problems, but eventually, with some practice, it all comes out OK.
    I still end up getting kinks sometimes, since I found out that loading film onto metal reels was not like getting back on a bicycle. :(
    My advice is to keep it simple, no pushing or whatever fancy tricks until you've got the basics in hand.
    Choose one film and one developer (I have personally heard that there are developers other than D-76, but I wouldn't know from my own experience). Then get a work flow down pat.
    Then you can experiment with other variables like different developers, times, temperatures, etc....
  10. If the film is completely blank (no frame numbers, no trace images at all) then I think it never saw developer. In particular it seems unlikely to me that developer which is either slightly contaminated with fix or worn out would produce no image at all: you'd expect something I think.
    Also I agree with what someone else said: before thinking about pushing etc make sure you have your process sorted well enough to get good negs at rated speed.
  11. Kodak Tech Pub 4017, , Kodak Professional TriX Films shows 13 1/4 minutes @ 68°F for TriX 400 pushed to 1600. At 12 minutes it would be under developed but some image should be visible.
    Fresh mixed powder chemicals, especially developer, should sit at least 12 hours before first use and 24 hours is best. This allows the chemical actions to complete and the final solution to stabilize.
    Hold the "blank film" under a strong light source such as direct sunlight and turn the film to different angles to the light. Any hint of a weak/ghost image says the developer was not working properly.
  12. If you didn't wash the film in the developing tank, and didn't wash it very well before the second roll, you could have killed your developer. If you're re-using it, you may have killed the entire jug. (A good reason to use developers one-shot, no risk to the "mothership".)
  13. Thats probably what happened then. I didn't clean it out not
    thinking about it. Ill try again with another roll tonight. Good
    thing I put the used chemical in a separate bottle.
  14. Ok so I checked all my developer and the problem was some fixer left in the tank. Went through a roll today at the park and it developed :) my first roll of film ever. And no I did not squeal like a school girl...well a little. I let them dry out with little issue then it was to the enlarger with them. I tinkered around with times and such a little but the one thing I keep noticing is white spots on the photos. They correspond with little hard dots on the negative. I assume that this is due to my having mishandled the film in some way. Anyone know where I screwed up? Sorry to keep asking questions but im young and inexperienced.
  15. Two, no make that three possibilities, mineral deposits from using hard/tap water, undissolved chemicals from powdered chemicals that were not fully dissolved/mixed, or residual silver from previous session redeposited onto the film during fixing.
    Solutions: use a filter on your tap water or use distilled water; use a plastic or acrylic rod to stir the chemical powders during mixing, allow the undissolved particles to settle to the bottom of the mixing container then crush them with the rod and stir until they go into solution; pour the fixer through a coffee filter before pouring it into the tank with the freshly developed film. I pour the fixer from the processed film tank through a coffee filter in a funnel as it goes back into the storage bottle then I pour the fixer through a coffee filter in a funnel from the storage bottle to an intermediate container just before adding it to the processing tank. I am not noticing sludge build up in the storage bottle as I was before no filtering/1 filtering before the processing tank.
    Wash all equipment used in processing immediately after hanging the film to dry in warm mild soapy water then rinse well. Towel or air dry. Do not use anything used in film processing for any other purpose.
  16. AJG


    A further suggestion--use PhotoFlo or another wetting agent just prior to drying your film, as this will help to prevent drying marks. Distilled water for mixing this is a good idea, especially if your water supply has a lot of minerals in it. Also, make sure the area where you hang your film to dry is as dust free as possible and without a lot of traffic while the film is drying to prevent dust from settling on the film while it dries. This will minimize the white spots on your prints.
  17. I wouldn't recommend push processing for at least the first few rolls.
    The AE-1 is electronic timed, so the shutter should either work or not. Mechanically timed could be wrong either way.
    The aperture on many old lenses gets stuck. Sometimes open, sometimes closed, I think full open is more usual.
    If there was still fixer in the tank, I presume you didn't rinse the film in the tank. I pretty much always rinse in the tank, though with the lid off.
    It is hard to load plastic (or metal) reels wet. I suppose not so hard a wet tank. Well, I usually load in a changing bag, and it is hard to do that with anything wet.
    I always rinse everything well, but without soap, after I am done, then dry it. If you see more spots than you see on your dishes, then you didn't rinse well enough.
  18. Well I got a second roll developed. Some neopan 400. Now im
    trying to figure out my paper exposure times. It seems like alot
    of people only expose for 12 to 30 seconds? When I did strip
    test with the aperture set to f8 it took about a minute and 45
    seconds to get a good exposure. How much does does your
    developer affecf the print? Im using dektol 1:2
  19. AJG


    How are you exposing the paper--with what kind of enlarger? Also, are you sure that the emulsion side of the paper is facing the light source? This sounds like you may be trying to print through the paper rather than directly to the emulsion.
  20. I have it hooked directly to a timer, I set a time and it comes on
    and exposes it for that long. I assume the shiny side of the
    paper is the one I am supposed to be exposing. The brand of
    my enlarger is hansa. Its not super expensive. Just a basic rig
  21. You need to monitor the temperature of the developer for consistency to allow repeating a print. The data sheet for the developer should give you a range to stay in and times.
    You need to keep the print in the developer for sufficient time for a 'solid' black. I need to use a kitchen timer and not pull it out early. Otherwise I snatch.
    You need to do a test strip for each of contrast and exposure with a new dev or paper.
    Or rather I need to.
    And you need to pick an easy negative eg with correct exposure so that there is silver in the shadows.
    You need to expose the negative at half box speed until you are happy with your print shadows.
    Pushing ISO is ok if you like the print signature you will get.
    You need to keep trying.
    Use a small paper size cause you will need to reject a lot of prints if you are self critical.
    It is hard starting up from scratch by yourself.
  22. Ok Noel, thanks for the advice. Does exposure time have more
    affect on the developing than the developer itself? If I expose
    the paper for a minute and a half I get a decent exposure with
    some negatives. Others have needed longer than that, I see
    people using times of just 20-30 seconds and it leads me to
    believe that A. They have a brighter bulb in their enlarger thus
    leading to shorter exposure times, or B. They are getting much
    more out of the developer than I am. I leave it in the dektol for
    about 3-4 minutes usually.

    By exposing the negative at half box speed do you mean in
    camera when actually taking the shot to treat iso 400 film as if it
    is 200? I did notice that in some instances on this neopan roll
    that shots which should have been well exposed came out at
    very thin negatives. And my developing time was fight on the
    dot. Whereas the tmax I developed at iso 400 came out much
    better. Some of the neopans was good but others where pretty
    much unsalvageably thin.

    I am using 8x10 papers but im about to buy a box of 5x7 once I
    can get a hundred sheets so cheaply. I plan on actually
    shooting film for some portraits and weddings alongside my
    digital so I will be in the blackroom alot practicing.
  23. You will find out when you develop it if it is the wrong side. It used to be paper always curved toward the emulsion side, but not all do now. I have done it wrong.
    There are a lot of variables, but 1:45 does sound long, unless you have contact printing paper. Most enlarging papers now are pretty fast.
    Most paper should be 1:00 or 1:30 in Dektol 1:2.
  24. Im using illford bw IV multigrade rc deluxe paper. No filters. It is
    glossed on one side and not the other so im pretty positive the
    glossed side is the right side of the paper to point the enlarger
    at. I am also using dektol 1:2. I guess I will just have to acxept
    the long times as a quirk of this enlarger until I can get a nicer
  25. What is the watt rating of the enlarger lamp?
    Put a piece of clear, processed film in the enlarger. Do a 2 second time step @f8 in 1 to 2 inch wide strips across the length of a sheet of paper. Process the paper for 3 minutes in the Dektol, fix, wash and allow to dry.
    When the test is dry look at it under bright light and identify the strip/time where the paper reaches its maximum black. It will be easy to tell as strips after this point will not be distinguishable from one another.
    What is the exposure time to reach paper black?
  26. My enlarger has a 75 watt PH111, and I usually use about 12s exposure, I believe including Multigrade IV. There have been times when I put in neutral density to get the exposure long enough.

    Papers today might be somewhat faster than ones of 30 or 40 years ago.
    If your negative is way overexposed, I might believe the times you say.

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