View Full Version : Curled Negative Problem
Yesterday I did my first day of developing negatives. I've been wanting a darkroom for quite some time now and boss recently sold me his which had been in storage for about 8 years (but its minty). Its the Beseler 23c and the price was right so I had to do it.
Anyways to my problem - it was difficult but everything seemed to go well. I bought a "darkroom step by step book", got all the way through the processing and upon hanging the negative the images looked pretty good. But then the negative slowly started to curl (from edge to edge, not end to end, and I did have a clip hanging on the lower end). I somewhat salvaged a few negatives. but the rest I through away. It was TriX 400.
Any ideas why this might occur? I am a TOTAL beginner here. One thing I think might be the culprit is the chemicals - I just used the chemicals that came with it for this practice run - which are about 8 years old. Could old chemicals do this?
Curling negs are common. It's my experince it happens because of unequally fast drying on either side of the film strip. I now hang my film strips from an angle but secured so they can't twist in the wind. Then I put a fan on the glossy side of the strip while I let the matte side dry without aid. I have to be careful not to blow dust on the strip, of course, but it works for me. I now hardly ever have curled film strips. But, as they say, your mileage may vary. :)
I've had this kind of curling problem when drying negatives during the winter or in a very cool location. I think it has something to do with the emulsion shrinking because it's cool.
We hate shrinkage!
You might try a warmer place that's dust free and see if that helps.
On the other side, get new chemicals. 8 years old -- wow! I'm impressed that they actually worked.
Rodinal is supposed to have a very long shelf life. And I guess unmixed powder would be OK.
Definitely get some new chemicals.
By the way, congrats. Now dig those negatives out of the trash, re-wash and let them dry again.
Thanks all, the negatives are no loss, just a test roll I shot around the house before going in. I'm going to get some fresh chemicals and give it another try this weekend. Glad to see its not uncommon.
ok; when drying film s a weight attached to the bottom is standard.
a wire with a washer; or nut will work fine; but the old weighted clips are better.
film with curls can be rewashed and dried.
squegee only the non emulsion side.
bewet be wild.
I know there are people who swear by using sqeegees. I just was never one of them. I tried it a couple of times and did not scratch my negatives, but just worried so much I quit.
I haven't developed my own film in many years. Back when I did, I was always amazed at how well the Ilford film dried. Something about the emulsion/substrate, it just wouldn't leave spots or lumps. I don't remember ever having any problems with curling either, as long as it was weighted. Of course, you may not want to use Ilford.
If you have never used it, I would encourage you to at least try a couple of rolls. I always thought it was able to capture more detail and with better tonality. Now for pushing, I thought Tri-X was just a little better. At least with the chemicals I had to work with when I was doing that.
When (if) I start using LF, I intend to try some of their LF film. It should be great. Just to keep honest, I will also try some of their MF in my rangefinder, so don't start a movement to ban me from the forum.:D
Thanks for the replies. After buying all new chemicals and having another try, all went well. I've gotten pretty good at it. Its fun and now I have a lot more films to choose from when shooting B&W. I still have a lot to learn on the printing though. That is a lot harder, not to mention uses up the chemicals a lot faster.
Attached a recent pic I developed.
Scott, stunning photo!!
Thanks! I took this from several stories up inside our apartment building. The skylights above create some interesting compositions.
I've been having curling problems myself. I believe that a long, cold wash shrinks the emulsion, as already noted. I got some Kodak hypo clearing agent (it's cheap) and used it as directed with processing temperatures (about 20C). Then, I used the short 5 minute wash with water as close to 20C as I could get. This seems to help. Other things I've heard of include using a length of 3 in PVC pipe with holes in it to dry the hanging film -- hopefully in the dampest room in the house, like the bathroom. Haven't tried this, but I may. Others swear by it. Apparently, it provides a damp mini-environment that promotes slow drying. Because of dust, I'm very skeptical about fast drying, using fans, and the like.
I processed 4 rolls of film the other day, all different kinds using the same procedure and chemicals. Diafine of course! Pan F, FP4+, Tri-X, (these were 35mm) and a 120 roll of Delta 3200.
Last step is a short soak in distilled water with a few drops of PhotoFlo. The four strips were hung from metal clips, with clips as weights on the lower end too. I poured some soak water down each strip, then used a squeegee made for this purpose to rid the strips of the excess.
These were hung from a wood crossbar I made long ago that fits over the shower door top rail, and braces at an angle against the opposite wall. It has a half dozen screw-in hooks. Before bringing the film in, I spray the shower head around, and then keep the door shut after the film is in.
Ok, with all that lengthy explanation, the four rolls were left to dry for several hours, and of them only the Delta 3200 showed more than the usual modest bit of curl across the short dimension. Seemed unusual...
off topic but, doug, have you got a pic of that wood crossbar?
sounds interesting and i'm always looking for a better idea.
Unfortuantely I can't get anywhere near 68 degrees here. Coldest running tap is 80. Seriously. Sitting water/chemicals stay around 75 +/- 1. I gave up trying to get all the solutions down to 68, it is such a pain. In retrospect, that probably contributed to the neg, problem in the first place, the baths begin 68 and the rinse being 80. I just adjust my dev. times for 75 now and it saves a lot of time. Been experimenting w/ tmax lately and its recommended @ 75 anyway i think.
Do you think not developing negs @ 68 has any affect on the quality of the negs., if you adjust times accurately?
doesn't a warmer developer increase grain?
Scott, I don't think 68 is a magic number. Anywhere in the approved temp range is fine. What is more important is to keep that temp constant throughout.
I keep my chems in bottles and also store several gallon jars of water in the same place. I measure the temp, adjust the dev time accordingly, and process the film. I use dump and pour wash -- 10 fills at 1 min each fill -- then distilled water, photoflo, and hang to dry. This method allows me to do everything at the same temp.
I missed saying that my recent 4 rolls were processed at 77 degrees, since that was the temperature of all the chemicals in the cabinet! That saved me the necessity to cool 'em down in an ice-cube bath.
The developer instructions should give an acceptable range of temperatures, and a chart for adjusting times to compensate. I'd not want to stray outside the specified range. Scott, I think 75 should be within that range...
Color is much trickier about temperature, as variations can result in color shifts. It's a real pain to bring everything, tanks & reels included, to 100 degF and keep it steady within 1/2 degree!
I'm in Texas too. Pipes here are buried very close to the surface. Unless you have a deep well summertime temps are going to be close to 75 F in any urban water supply.
I used to take a small tray and make an ice water bath with ice cubes for film developing. 70-72 F is usually easier to maintain than 68 F. The problem with higher temperatures is that it can exacerbate grain (among other things). This can be a real problem with 16mm sub-mini film and sometimes with high speed 35mm film. However, once you start getting up into 120 film it's less of a practical problem. Also, with higher temperatues comes shorter developing times. With short developing times small variations in time become more significant in the overall result.
I've seen mini-refrigerators selling for around $50. If you had the space and inclination, you could buy one and refrigerate your liquid chemicals. However, water baths are quite good for maintaining fairly constant temeratures for as long as it takes to develop a roll of film.
Originally posted by backalley photo
off topic but, doug, have you got a pic of that wood crossbar?
sounds interesting and i'm always looking for a better idea. Hi Joe -- Here's a shot of the wooden hanger bar for film drying. As you see it's fairly crude and make-shift, but it works!
(The metal spring-rod also visible isn't relevant to this; my wife uses that to hang-dry clothing that shouldn't go through the dryer)
how very clever!
it's interesting how the mind works. for years now i have come up with various ideas for hanging film in the shower/bath stall, but every one of them had the 'device' running the long way - i never even gave a thought to the short way.
and thanks for taking the time to post it, much appreciated.
Having brought it up, I decided to try the 3 inch PVC trick. Got a 1.5m piece and added a 20 cm extension. Cut a 1/4 inch hole in the long piece and the extension at the bottom. Hung the film with the emulsion away from the holes. Dried for 6 hours. Voila! It worked. The least curling I've had.
The whole process surrounding negatives and processing has always intrigued me. Seems like even at pro labs the guys runs the negatives through two fingers to rid excess fluid. One would think that could cause scratches but I guess experience in handling thousands of these strips tell otherwise.
Interesting thread..makes me start thinking..should I also....
As far as the curling of negatives goes - someone said somewhere, sometime - that 'roll up the roll of negatives 'against the curling' (emulsion side out I guess) and simply put the roll in a glass over night. In the morning, take out and the curling is more or less gone.'
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