Oh no, all my film came out blank !

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by hjoseph7, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. I was looking forward to a night of heavy printing tonight since the weather around here is awful. My newly LCA'd camera(Nikon FE2) had come back from the repair repair shop about 2 weeks ago. Since then, I had taken about 2 rolls of 36 exposure Tri-X B&W film and my renovated Darkroom was ready to go. Last night I decided to develop the 2 rolls of film, I was shure I had some keepers in there. I used my trusty Patterson Universal Tank to develop the film. The Developer was Clayton F76 Plus, I used Kodak Stop-Bath and Ilford Rapid fixer for the next 2 steps. I meticulously kept track of the time and agitated according to specs. When I was finished, I added 2 drops of photo-flow to prevent any water drop stains. To my surprise, both rolls of 36 exposures were completetly blank !

    The first thing I did was check the camera since it was recently repaired. I opened up the back, held the camera up to the light and took a couple of shots at varying shutter speeds. I could see the round little circle openening up on all shots except when the camera was set to 1/4000 sec and f22. However, I don't remember taking any pictures at those settings and even if I did, some pictures would have registered on the film.

    The next culprit would have to be User error. Unless I had a massive Senior-Moment, I am almost 95% sure that I did not switch the graduates with the fixer & developer in them. That is, I did not use the Fixer before the Developer as far as I know. All my graduates are clearly labeled(DEVELOPER, FIX, STOP-BATH) and I use the same graduate over and over according to chemistry.

    One thing I should note is that this Developer is about 2 years old. It has been sitting on the shelf patiently waiting for my interest in Digital cameras to wane. So right now I'm thinking(I hope) it's the Developer. The only problem is that although the Developer is 2 years old, the bottle was never opened, neither was the bottle containing the Ilford Rapid fixer ? How long is the average shelf-life of Developers anyway ?

    I don't really remember running into this problem before, although I don't really remember waiting 2 years to use purchased chemicals either.
  2. Edge marks?
  3. No edge marks !
  4. As john stated your first clue would be markings on the film rebate, along with the film leader: it should be black. If those two clues are not there, then you should suspect mixed-up fixer/developer or spent developer, but I would lean towards the former, because even old developer will still have some activity... enough to developer the leader. If the rebate markings and leader are black, then I would start to suspect a shutter fault. It's not a RF camera, so you didn't leave the lens cap on...
  5. Ok the leader on the film is black, but the rest of the film is blank with a slight purple tint. There are no marks on the rest of the film.
    I just loaded the camera with a roll of 12 exposure Ultramax ISO 400 film. Hope to take it to the 1 hr store to get developed tomorrow.
  6. Hmm.. no rebate marks, but leader is black. That leads me to think it is spent developer. The leader gets so much exposure that you can't help but develop it, even with very weak developer.
  7. I thought I knew what you meant had happened, but as I read, I got confused.
    So, without going back to puzzle out what you actually say, let me just ask if you are sure that the film was actually being advanced through the camera? Some cameras can be tricky to load, and you can end up "advancing" the film and tripping the shutter for a roll, but actually have no film going through at all, as it has come off the take-up roll.
    Anyway, just another possibility when "film is blank"
  8. The film was definately going through the camera. I checked each time when I cocked the shutter that the film rewind would turn. When I rewinded the film, I could definately feel the tension.
    I checked the film again and the lead is not black but dark grey.
  9. If the film had not been exposed, like by some in-camera problem, then edge marks, like frame numbers and signs like "safety film" should still develop. When they're missing, it's often a lab error. I've never used that kind of developer before, but when I have catastrophic errors (like, no development at all), it's often because I was trying to squeeze blood from a stone with exhausted liquid chemistry. Solids, like the film emulsion itself, the bulk chem powders of the developers: they seem to last longer, easier. Exhausted liquids, there's often no good way to tell from simple observation beyond recordkeeping. I think Lex or somebody was telling us the other day he put tick marks on his lab bottles.
    Maybe dip a strip of pH paper in a sample splash of that developer and see what the pH is. Fixer is near 4. Developer for films will be near 9. pH won't tell if the developer's spent, but it'll show right away if you got it mixed up.
    Skip the good photos for a couple of rolls and burn some film of high contrast backgrounds and gray cards; build your own test strips to check the negative developing procedure. Feed six inches of that into a tank at a time and check your labs. If you flunk a second time, consider stopping. If your tests fail four times in a row, stop processing.
    I think you need to reload with some fresh stuff and try again tomorrow. Getting some fresh D76 powder is less expensive than many tanks of lab failures.
    Condolences on your lab troubles. I think this happens to us all when we start up again.
    If you got it mixed up, then you were just warming up your brain. If that developer is spent, and you have no other, then you don't have a clear mechanism on hand to troubleshoot that with, do you? Beware trying to stubbornly reuse that dev if it repeatedly fails. Quit at four failures.
    I use Dektol I think at 1:9, working solution to water, to dilute it down to 10% printmaking strength, to develop negatives. So, if you have a print developer, then maybe you have an alternate universal developer on hand. I like using that method, but you know it will yield high contrast prints. Maybe you could try that if the F76 doesn't work out for you.
  10. Thanks John, I have some HC-110 in liquid form and some Kodak D76 in powder form I also have some Dektol print developer. You can find specs on the Clayton F76 B&W developer here: http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php If the F76 developer is spent, that might mean that I have to clear out the rest of the stuff that has been sitting on the shelf for just as long which includes a couple of bottles of T-max developer.
  11. The HC110, if still in its concentrate form, will be good; if mixed to stock solution discard it. The D76 powder will be good if the package is unopened and has not been damp, discard it if the package is a large clump.
    Clayton Chemical does not provide enough information to determine if the developer has expired or not.
    Take the blank film out into bright sunlight and view it at different angles. You may see faint images or faint rebate along the edge and if so that will confirm that the developer is dead.
  12. This is one reason why concentrate developers like Rodinal (Adonal) and HC-110 are desirable. They last for a very long time and there is less risk of having a stock solution go bad.
  13. no edge marks... are you very very sure the film was loaded properly. One way to be sure is usually by making this mistake once early in life.
  14. The fact that your Tri-X came out purple tells me your fixer was spent. TMax has a purple base, but fully fixed Tri-X does not. If your fixer is spent, then odds are your developer is too. You may have other problems as well, but you need to get some new developer to troubleshoot.
    If you don't shoot several rolls a month, I second the recommendation of HC-110 or Rodinal. In concentrate form, even opened, they have a shelf life of years. HC-110 is (in my eyes) a little less grainy but more contrasty, while Rodinal is grainier, but I strongly prefer the tonal range. Either one is a good all-around developer, but I wouldn't use HC-110 with already contrasty films like PanF+, as it turns into a bit of a mess.
  15. Iv had the same thing happen to me a couple of times, and its always because iv not checked the developer and its been no good, its easy to spot with ilford ilfosol developer (if I remember to check) if its good the liquid is nice and clear, if its gone off, its looks thick like strong tea. Dont know if its the particular brand I use, but it doesnot last well!
  16. I just got back my Test Roll from the 1 Hour store. The problem is not with the camera since I was able to register some images on the film.
    There is a slight glitch with the camera(nikon fe2) though in that the "Rewind Release Button" at the bottom of the camera was stuck in the 'Down' position after I loaded the camera with film ? It is supposed to be in the 'Up' position when you open the back of the camera to load film. I first noticed this when I cocked the Film Advance Lever and the Film Rewind Knob did not turn. I had to open the back of the camera again so that the Rewind Release Button was in the Up position. This made me miss the first 2 frames on the roll. After that everything went OK. not sure if that had anything to do with the problem.
    As far as I know the meter and film advance seem to be working fine. I managed to get 10 perfectly exposed images out of a 12 exposure Roll.
    This means that I have to dump all my chemichals OUCH and replace them with new ones. It's not a total loss, I can use the empty bottles for Stock solution. I suspected my Ilford Rapid fixer was also spent, because when I mixed it with 4 parts water, it had this milky look to it. Also there were small white particles floating around in the soup. I guess I wont be printing any time soon.

    Luckily I still have about 5 cans of Accufine in powder form !
  17. Harry- If the rewind button was stuck down, that might also have prevented your film from advancing properly, which would also give you a clear roll. It wouldn't have made much difference though; not having visible numbers or markings on your film still means conked developer.
  18. Zack I did check the 2 empty frames on the film and they still had the edge marks.
  19. Not sure where I'm going to "legally" dump all this stuff ? I'm talking about 2 quart bottles of T-max developer, 2 quart bottles of Clayton F76 developer, 3 quart bottles of Kodafix, 4 500ml bottles of Ilford Rapid Fixer, 5 500ml of Ilford multigrade paper developer.
  20. Does anyone know how long Tmax developer lasts in the bottle? I have a mostly used bottle that has been sitting for a few years, does anyone think it is still good? I should have dated the bottles of liquid concentrate when I opened them. Does the liquid fixers go bad with time, if so, how much time?
  21. For liquid developers you have only two (maybe three) who will work for a long time:
    Rodinal / R09 one shot (Agfa) : It will work always, even when it's black so even do not worry if the bottle is opened and > 5 years old. Keep it in the original Silar 125ml/500ml bottle.
    HC-110 (Kodak): Concentrate around 4 years. When opened you can fill several smaller glass bottles (100ml - 250ml) for the max. time.
    Diafine 2 bath (around 1 1/2 year of the stock A+B). Make 1 Quart/950ml stock solutions and you can run it till the minimum volume of the tank is reached, around 500ml-600ml. It's a speed enhancing 2 bath developer. If necessary you can filter the stocks A+B. Never put B to A because then the Diafine is dead.
    Fixer: Regular 3-4 years till you have particles inside the stock solution and/or if it smells like Sulfur.
    Most other developers have a lifetime of the stock between several months till about one year.
    Developers are relative cheap so do not try a Tmax liquid developer of several years old on a film. It's a waste of time and materials.
  22. Could you have kept the lens cap on by accident?
  23. Interesting thread. My money would be on the developer as the cause of Harry's problem. For the first time in years I've just had a very similar experience. Just bought an Olympus XA4 via Evilbay. As it was bright and sunny I loaded an old - 3 or 4 yrs - but 'fridged roll of Acros 100. Camera seemed to work fine and I devved the film yesterday in Rodinal diluted 1-50 for 8 mins, which has given me good results in the past. However the film came out completely clear, with NO rebate markings at all. Just here and there through the film are hints of a ghost image, but these are few and far between, and not dense enough to even recognize the subjects.
    Now then.. I confess that, without really thinking about it, I broke the golden rule of testing by combining two variables at once, namely an untried camera and old developer. The Rodinal was/is several years old, dark brown, and there was only about an inch of it left in the bottle. Over the years I've been so impressed with this developer's justly acclaimed keeping properties that, as I say, I never gave it a thought. It's never let me down before, but I'm hoping that on this occasion it did, and that I simply asked too much of it. If not, it might well be the camera which obviously would be worse.
    Today I'm going to shoot a roll of Tri X and will put it through fresh dev. Fingers crossed, and I'll post the results.
  24. "...the film came out completely clear, with NO rebate markings at all..."​
    Simon, when negatives turn out completely blank - no edge markings - 99.99% of the time it's operator error due to inadvertently fixing the film first.
    Keep those containers and graduates or measuring cups separate and clearly marked. Many of us have learned that the hard way.
    Occasionally - very rarely - the problem might be a combination of developer failure *and* film stock that happened to lack rebate markings. I have one bulk roll of mystery film that seems to be an ISO 50-100 film, but has no edge markings at all.
  25. Well, I said I'd post the results of my Tri X/ XA4 second roll, sorry it's taken me so long! Well, the good news is that the Tri X, devved in dilute Tmax, came out fine. Not perfect; I have to get used to the vagaries of the XA4's metering pattern, and most of the negs were just a bit thin, maybe half a stop on average. It looked like underexposure rather than under development, as the highlights were dense enough.
    Lex, you make a fair point, but I know I didn't fumble the processing sequence. However.. When I shot the roll of Acros (ISO 100) the ISO lever was set, I remember now, to 1600. I'd been testing the shutter speeds with an empty chamber and must have left the last ISO setting. Didn't think anything of it, because the XA4 works off DX coding. But... if I recall correctly, DX doesn't work on this camera at 1600; to use this film speed, one has to set it manually, as I had done. I don't have the user's manual, but I would have assumed that the DX reading of the ISO 100 cannister would have "overruled" the manually set film speed, but perhaps this doesn't happen if the ISO lever is at 1600? If so, then I shot an ageing roll of ISO 100 film effectively underexposing it by four stops. I'll have to check this out, but it wouldn't explain the clear rebate. Maybe you're right about that, and it was just a fluke roll...
    And Harry, if you re-visit this thread, did you ever track down the gremlin?

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