What could be the issue with my negatives?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by steve_pfost, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. I think your 400 ISO exposed Tri-X looks fine and the 1600 looks underexposed - as expected.

    Also, keep in mind that Tri-X was around long before anyone thought about using scanners to scan negatives. One reason I use Silverfast is because it has presets for a number of films to help get in the ballpark, so to speak. Moreover, if you do not properly expose and develop, then you cannot be assured that every frame will capture the maximum shadows and highlights. The times provided for development are just approximations. If you want the perfect negative, then you need to expose for the shadows and process for the highlights. Often difficult to do with roll film.
  2. Steve,

    As far as I know, if you see the film transparent, not milky, it is well fixed. 75 rolls seem like a lot, but read what the fixer manual recommends. You could also do the clearing time test.

    The times recommended by Kodak for TRI-x are too low, you get thin negs. How do you see the images on the negatives? If you see them okay and they are good for your copying and scanning, it is okay. What I am saying is that when I develop Ilford with the recommended times, with the same agitation and technique, I get darker images, more standard-looking, which I prefer. This is not only my experience, this subject about Kodak times was discussed in forums.

    I recently began processing. I also use D-76. I only developed a couple of TRI-X. The first time I did it 1:1 at 68ยบ for 10:30, and the images were thin. The second time I developed for 12:00 (if I am not wrong, I have to check) and it was quite okay. I still haven't overdeveloped TRI-X. Kodak doesn't give the time for +1, it suggests using normal time (but probably it would be better adding like 10-15% more, I have to try). So for +2 I would have to try, taking the difference between the recommended 9:45 for normal developing and my 12:00 as a reference (like 20% more).

    For +2 with D-76, you could try developing 1:0 (aka stock). I think it is better for sharpness. A lot of people recommend this.

    Maybe the three images you show in your first post are a bit underexposed. They have the typical look of underexposed images.
    I agree with John Shriver.
    Did you measure light with the same frame of the actual photos, with a center-weighted meter? If so, that is why they are underexposed.

    Also, the box ISO is not considered the real ISO. The effective ISO of a 400 film should be 250 or 320. I usually shoot 400 film at 320. If I push one stop, at 640. Two stops, at 1250 (and then develop +2, of course). A third of a stop is quite irrelevant if you are shooting normal, but more significant if you are pushing two stops.

    An image pushed 2 stops should look good, not muddy, if it is well exposed and developed.
  3. Fixer is subject to the same temperature dependence as developer, and should be brought to the same temperature as the developer. While it's easy to see the effect of changes in developer time/temperature, fixing variations aren't so obvious, but it's an equally important part of the process.

    WRT agitation: 3 inversions of the tank every 30 seconds is probably a bit hurried. I imagine you just quickly flick the tank upside down and immediately upright again. That doesn't do much good.

    Agitation - removal of used developer from the surface of the film and its replacement with fresh developer - is mainly done by air bubbling through the tank. You have to 1) have a reasonable air space in the tank, and 2) leave enough time for that air to bubble past the film on each inversion.

    I'd suggest cutting the number of inversions to 1 or 2 every 30 seconds and giving at least a couple of seconds rest in the inverted position before righting the tank again. Same for the fixer stage as well.
  4. Exposure affects shadow detail primarily (that is if you're near to the correct exposure to start). Development affects the highlights greater in the values above Zone V (neutral reflected 18% gray card) in a proportionally greater way. The highlights tend to clump up on the higher zones the more you push the development. The old adage still holds true; expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. But as noted previously; a number of factors can contribute to your issues, and each issue should be isolated if possible). I used to develop TRI-X 220 (320 ASA) at 70F for 10 minutes using D-76 1:1. I f I wanted skin tones (Zone VI) to move to higher values (Zones VII to VIII) I would increase processing by 40% (to 14 minutes) for that net effect. I agree with the initial read on your negatives that they appear underexposed (lot's of perfectly clear areas in your negatives).
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
  5. Pushing any film to much higher than its rated ISO(ASA) was always a kind of compromise. Usually, pushers were just thrilled that they got any image at all.

    Like the singing dog, no one expected it to sing well.
  6. This is all so great, really a nice start to get me back in touch with film. I was recently pulled into the office at the paper as an editor after shooting for some time and I'm feeling like I have a photography deficiency. (HaHa!) I decided what better to get back into then to hone my skills back with film. So I'm hoping that it just just be my shitty handling of exposure. Dummy.

    Some questions I will raise, I sometimes use a 3 reel paterson tank, sometimes a 2 reel. From what I've been researching I don't really have to change developing times due to the tank size do I? I see that Kodak recommends if you have a large tank 1/2 gallon - 3 1/2 you have to but with the tanks I have I always just doubled the amount of developer and processed box time. As a side note I will be experimenting with possibly exposing for 320, I never heard that 400 wasn't true speed of the film.

    Anyway, I made new fixer just to, well, freshen it up, and fixed a strip with no change as some had expected.

    I can't say again how much I appreciate the help, keep the convo going with any more tips or any helpful reference links!
  7. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    Your negatives look thin.
  8. The large tanks also have different agitation times. It seems that solution moves around differently.

    Otherwise, some high dilution developers need more time and/or higher volume.
    (That latter means a large tank with less than a full reel load.)

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