My film drying technique...has anyone else tried this?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by andy_may, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. After giving my b&w film a bath in distilled water, photo-flo solution, and a touch of rubbing alcohol, I string my plastic paterson 35mm rolls on a rope and swing them around, allowing the centrifugal force to sling the excess water off. I do this indoors of course, to reduce dust sticking to the film as it's flying through the air. I had to find a solution to getting the excess water off while leaving the film on the rolls because I then dry them in a home made pvc tube attached to a low heat hairdryer.
    Has anyone else tried the rope swinging, centrifugal force method? Is this a bad idea? Ive gotten decent results with only a few water marks, but overall believe it is a sound idea.
    What do you think?
  2. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
    It will probably cause the film to streak at some point and what about dust...
    What happens when the film becomes unhooked somehow and goes flying through the air?
    Not to mention the wash residue sticking to your furniture, walls, unsuspecting passersby etc. (lol)
    What's wrong with simply hanging it in a shower?
  3. I have visions of the film releasing and flying across the room, damaging your images, any breakable things and perhaps some innocent bystander.
    As for using heat, even at the low setting, I would caution you against this. While emulsions are much more secure than in the past, the expansion coefficient of the emulsion and the film are different so exposing film to heat may damage the emulsion.
    If something can go wrong, it will, so the best thing to do is to minimize the kind of damage that can happen. I am not sure how much time you are saving, but I usually let my films dry at least 8 hours to make sure it is more than just "surface dry." I do not have much trouble with dust but when I did (in a prior darkroom), I would just make a hanging compartment for the films from an inexpensive clear shower curtain liner.
    While it may save time, do you really want to chance such damage?
    I do not know what type of photography you enjoy, but the only type I can think of that needs such fast drying speed is photojournalism and even then, you may as well as use digital if speed is an issue. Other than that, patience is a virtue. Let the film dry slowly and safely. Treat it well and you will be rewarded by the highest technical quality of which you are capable. Do not chance damage to yourself, other, your films, your equipment or your belongings and property.
    That is my opinion and I hope it helps.
  4. I've had the problem that the film (120 format) tends to curl crosswise, and that makes it difficult to get decednt scans. So with a bit of experimentation I hit on the idea of drying the film while semi-rolled - when it bends along the long axis it can't bend crosswise. And if I put the roll horizontal the water will flow off onto the short edge much faster than if it has to run all along hte strip down to the bottom. A newly washed terry-cloth towel at the bottom both soaks up the water and prevents the coil from moving. So far I have had zero problems doing this, and my scanning has improved.
  5. SCL


    Hanging it by clips has worked fine for me for almost half a century. I'm not sure there are any benefits in your rather bizarre technique, but like the others, I see plenty of risks. If it works for you, however, then by all means continue to experiment to perfect it :). Perhaps we'll all learn a more effective technique.
  6. Try this: take a piece of rope, and attach a loaded film reel to each end. Take a second, longer rope and attach it along its midsection at the midpoint of the first rope to form a cross. To the shorter end of the second rope attach a third film reel; now you have three film reels tethered by three "arms" of the same length, and a fourth "arm" for a handle.
    Congratulations, you've just built a bola. It'll dry your film like crazy, and is great for rounding up livestock as well.
  7. Ive gotten decent results with only a few water marks, but overall believe it is a sound idea.​
    In my field, what you say is known as the triumph of theory over practice. Alternatively, the Triumph of the Will.
    Have you considered a salad centrifuge instead?
    Or you could do as I do and just hang the film on the clothesline and use the 70mph setting on a leaf blower. Dries them negatives right off.
  8. Many years ago ther was a product you would dunk film into which caused it to dry much faster. I think it was mostly methanol. The smell was not good. It would sometimes leave a film on the surface of the negatives. Photo Flo with tap water will work as will Photo Flo with distilled water or even distilled water alone.
  9. Photo flo-ing while on a reel could eventually cause problems because the buildup leaves a residue . I once bought some used film hangers for 8x10. The resulting residue at the edges of the negatives was so thick it looked like the picture had been vignetted.
  10. Janne:
    Thanks for your tip on drying 120. I have yet to actually develop any 120 but will be doing so starting in the spring. It never occured to me that I might have curling issues such as you mentioned and your idea on how to fix that problem is a simple solution that I would have never of thought of! THanks for sharing that with us.
  11. thanks all for your kind and light-hearted responses. i already know it is a bazar method and i though some of you would get a kick out of it. i especially like the centrifuge suggestion, i have visions of the movie "spies like us", but really the leafblower method is more my style.
    I do, however, believe i can defend myself for a couple reasons. i live in bangkok, for those of you who dont know what this means for film drying, imaging 90+degree heat, almost 100% humidity all the time, and the world's worst air pollution. i dont have the luxury of living in a clean / dry environment like MOST of you. hanging my film to dry in the shower, no matter how clean my water is or how much or little photo-flo i use, it always means dry marks and dust. i started to squeegee my film to help but this guaranteed scratches. i scan my film, so none of this is acceptable.
    i started drying my film in a pvc tube with a NO-heat hairdryer and have gotten superb results. (no dust or water spots) previously, i removed the film from the rolls, squeegeed them, rolled them back onto the reels and dried them in my home-made dryer. this eliminated the dust and water spots but added scratches. then i started my unorthodox method in order to eliminate having to remove the film from the rolls (and subsequent scratches) and have gotten the best results yet.
    i must clarify my statement:
    Ive gotten decent results with only a few water marks, but overall believe it is a sound idea.
    i have done this method 3 times, twice with no water marks, scratches, or dust (or damage to myself, my film, or any loved ones). the third time i believe i left the film in the wash too long with too much solution and got a few light water marks. however, i dont think this was due to my swinging method.
    so there you have it, i still believe it is a good solution to my film drying problems. but please, keep the jokes coming!
  12. woops, one more clarification. drying my film on its reels in my home made pvc dryer without removing excess water also guaranteed dry marks.
  13. Personally, I just hang the film in an old 6-foot, single-door locker and let it dry. A lot less strenuous!
  14. i have visions of the movie "spies like us"
    I use a device similar to the Radical Vertical Impact Simulator for agitating my developing film.
  15. good one, scott. lol
  16. Perhaps a little less dangerous drying method...a salad spinner. Gotta use that Ron Popeil fabulous TV offer for something.
  17. After photo-flo and isopropanol in distilled water I hang my film to dry diagonally with the lower clip tied out by string. A tip I got from Lex (Diagonal film consultant) some years ago I believe.
  18. After photo-flo and isopropanol in distilled water I hang my film to dry diagonally with the lower clip tied out by string. A tip I got from Lex (Diagonal film consultant) some years ago I believe.​
    And to give credit where due, I got that tip from Roger Hicks on the CompuServe photo forum many years ago!
    I use hemostat clamps to support medium format negatives diagonally, since there are no sprocket holes and the unexposed film margins are very thin. The tiny mosquito hemostats work great - you can buy 'em at military surplus stores, from Micro Tools online and other places.
  19. For all those that mock Andy, unless you develop film from an instruction sheet, some believe photography involves the art of experimentation. Personally, I think that twirling the film might expose it to more dust, but I can't say for sure. I just plan to leave it overnight. I used to work with an old wire-photo guy who would print his negatives wet when there was a big story that he had to get out. I guess it also depends on what you plan to use the negs for. For me, the endless hours of spotting is enough to let someone else experiment.
  20. On the plus side, windmilling your film around like Pete Townshend could be good exercise. :)
  21. "hanging my film to dry in the shower, no matter how clean my water is or how much or little photo-flo i use, it always means dry marks and dust"
    Andy, try running the hot water for a few minutes, to get so steam going, before hanging. It may help with lowering the dust factor.
  22. This is not a joke. I have used the centrifugal force method often with 35mm. I put in my washing machine set on the spin cycle. The film comes out dust free and almost totally dry. I have greatly reduced the dust on my negatives with this method compared with hanging the film from a line. Now I can not say it will work for everyone but it works with my setup. PS Washing Machines vary so try it with a dry waste roll of film first to see if you get a spin or a bounce when you start the spin cycle.
  23. jim, i own a gibson SG (if you dont know, that's the model guitar pete townshend used to smash and today an expensive "classic" guitar) and whenever i see old videos of him smashing one, a little bit of me dies every time.
    "Andy, try running the hot water for a few minutes, to get so steam going, before hanging. It may help with lowering the dust factor."
    i appreciate this advice, but have you ever been to bangkok? we have some of the worst air pollution, mostly the dust type from burning fields, trash, and vendors' charcoal. (not just auto exhaust) it's not a minor dust problem that can be cured with a little steam. my bathroom is not sealed, it is vented like most rooms in my house. Thai houses are very open, not sealed and insulated like those in the west. it might help for a few minutes but not for the 8 hours or longer it takes film to dry. trust me when i say it doesn't work.
  24. Sounds like you just need to build yourself a sealed drying cabinet. It may end up taking longer than 8 hours to dry, but it should work. You could potentially build some kind of system using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter that could circulate dust-free air through the cabinet. It could be a sort of home-made version of this:
  25. The centrifugal force thing is a tad extreme to me. Force drying offers all kinds of things to go wrong. 30 years ago I used the alcohol trick because i was on a deadline for a daily newsletter every day for a convention--time was of the essence. But really--what's the rush? Blowing hot air with a hair dryer through a PVC tube with the film on reels will concentrate any dust in the air into the tube. Plus you may end up with curl due to the memory of the plastic film base.
    I do a PhotoFlo rinse, then soak a sponge squeegee in the PhotoFlo in the tank, hang up the film with a clip weighting at the bottom. Then I squeeze the excess PhotoFlo out of the squeegee, squeegee the film, tiptoe out of the romm and close the door. The film will be dry in half an hour or so.
    Keep it simple.
  26. I may be the luckiest guy in this conversation. I have a real Omega film drying cabinet I got free when a Photo Express closed down and was ditching equipment. OK, it wasn't actually free, since I did have to drive a few hundred miles to pick up all the stuff my sister-in-law scarfed up for me. But a film cabinet and a slide mounter was worth the price of the gasoline.
  27. I'm intrigued by Andy's method, "i started drying my film in a pvc tube with a NO-heat hairdryer and have gotten superb results. (no dust or water spots)" (December 28, 2008) and I believe it's worth some exploration. But, why did you abandon this method? Perhaps the environmental issue you mentioned, and to your description of that environment, I can well attest.
    Happy New Year to all, and thanks for the (sometimes) amusing comments.
  28. donn, i must have confused you, i didnt abandon it. drying my film immediately after removing it from the bath without first removing excess water (by my bazaar centrifugal method) always resulted in drying spots. so now i dry it in my pvc tube after slinging the excess water from the film.
    have you dried film in a polluted, tropical environment? how did you do it?
  29. Hi Andy,
    Yup, that's pretty much the same as I do. I was having water spot problems and so I tried twirling the loaded film outdoors and it works just great! I loosely wrap the plastic spiral with a paper towel held on with clothes pins, poke a hole in the bottom of the paper enclosed spiral, run a three foot line through the spiral and twirl it around a dozen times or so outdoors and presto-zippo most of the water is slung off and then I hang it in the shower for a couple of hours and its dry. Works for me too.......Ron
  30. If it works for you, that's all that matters. I use a similar technique to dry my cats after their baths.
  31. lex, you bathe your cats? and most of you think im the weird one? dont you know cats lick themselves clean all on their own.....hey, wait a minute, that just gave me a new idea. maybe i can find some stray cat here in bangkok to lick my negatives dry.
    thanks for the inspiration.
  32. I don't know, Andy. When my cat licks my hand it feels like emery paper. I wouldn't want that abrasive tongue to touch my films. :)
    Back on topic, one of the first things I've learnt about photography was that force drying spells trouble.
  33. Twirling your film about sounds like a disaster. I so lke most folks, photoflo in distilled water, then I hang it in the shower, since I don't have a drying cabinet. I also keep my Persian cat out of the room, since her fur will get all over everything. And yes, I also bathe my cat. When you have a persian, you either bathe it yourself or you spend forty bucks to have a groomer do it. The joy of listening to her meow makes it worth the few scratches I get when doing the deed. :^)
    Throw away your rope, Yoy are going to break something and your wife will not be a happy camper.
  34. I use only distilled water for the final rinse. Then I hang the film(s) to dry in a small cabinet I made for this purpose. I leave them there for twelve or more hours. At the top of the film I use two metal film clips. One on each corner and at the bottom I use a metal film clip with a small weight in it. The film dries perfectly clear, flat and with no dust, specks or watermarks on it. Why bother with extra chemicals and risky drying methods that can destroy your hard work?
  35. Just bumping an old thread, since there were so many old farts making fun of using centrifugal force to get excess water of the film. :)
    I would suggest to the OP (if he is still alive and shooting), to keep the reels inside the empty tank and swing the arm back and fourth, empty tank, and do it again.
    I find that after I did this, water-spouts went away. (yes, I use photo-flo, I've always used it, yes, I hang my films in the shower, yes, I run the water first. Doesn't matter, the excess water-droplets are still there and they aren't running anywhere, even when the film hangs diagonal, they stick and dry where they are).

    By keeping the reels inside the tank and then forcing the water out via centrifugal force, by swinging your arm back and fourth, you:
    - Avoid forcing potential dust-ridden air trough the reel.
    - A firm grip on the tank keeps it in place (just make sure you have room).
    - No more water-spray around the room.
    Some people actually DO use salad-spinners to get the water off before drying.
    This is simple logic; Unless you rinse in isopropanol - or force most of the water off, you will have water-spouts. All water has materials in it, even distilled water will pick up crap from the tank and reels or the air.
    All air has dust in it, even if you put the shower on (which minimize the dust issue greatly, but not completely).
    Old farts may laugh, then again, vision gets worse with age :p
  36. I presume warm air drying is what professional labs and minilabs do, and that films are designed for it.
    (The links on the Kodak site seem to be broken.)
    E-6 says not more than 63C or 145F, and that higher drying temperature means more curl.
    Most of the time, I am not in much of a hurry, but films are designed for warm drying. Just not too warm, and do filter the air.

Share This Page