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rbiemer
01-31-2009, 11:31
I have been getting geared up to start processing/printing my BW film and have most of the stuff I'll need.
But I have a bit of a problem: Because of my job, I maintain two residences and where I spend most of my year--May to November and January to March--is on a septic system so I can't do any processing there. I spend the rest of the year in my small home town and have city sewage there.
So, the question I have is how bad is waiting until I'm back in the city to process what I shoot?
Rob

rogue_designer
01-31-2009, 11:45
In some ways, I actually find waiting several months to process (provided that I have accurate notes about any adjustments marked on the rolls) - to be something of a bonus.

The reason why, is that it separates me from why I took the picture. When viewing the images, I'm seeing them essentially fresh. So my judgement of whether it's an interesting image, comes from an evaluation of the image without being clouded by my memory of the moment, or the technical challenges I might have faced while taking it.

Obviously, I still have some recollection, but it's a bit of forced objectivity, that I find helpful when editing them down.

The bad part, of course, is that it can be extremely time consuming to go back and process 50 rolls months after the fact. And as a result, the exposed film bags just get fuller.

bcostin
01-31-2009, 12:16
I think you'll be ok. I've misplaced rolls for months and developed them later without any problems. The same things that harm film in the short term will accumulate over time, of course, so keep the exposed rolls in a very dark, cool, dry, and non-dusty place. Film canisters stored inside a plastic cooler, maybe with some silica gel packets to collect condensation, would probably work well.

I don't want to distract from your main point, since it's a really good question, but there's no particular reason why you can't process film at a home with a septic system. I do, and given the number of people who have septic it's really pretty common. B&W chemistry is pretty unlikely to hurt a healthy septic tank. You wouldn't want to run a professional lab's volume, but the silver in the used fixer is the only component that's harmful to septic bacteria in quantities a home lab is likely to generate. I keep my exhausted fixer and used stop-bath in old plastic bottles and drop them off at the recycling center. You can also reduce waste by using Diafine or another re-usable developer, where only the highly diluted rinsewater ever goes down the drain.

johnwnyc
01-31-2009, 12:59
In some ways, I actually find waiting several months to process (provided that I have accurate notes about any adjustments marked on the rolls) - to be something of a bonus.

The reason why, is that it separates me from why I took the picture. When viewing the images, I'm seeing them essentially fresh.

I wholeheartedly agree. Garry Winogrand always waited months (or longer) before processing his negatives. The objective distance from the subject makes for better editing, IMO.

Al Kaplan
01-31-2009, 13:26
Pour your used fixer into a bucket and throw in some steel wool. Iron (steel wool) is more active than silver and replaces it in the solution over a few days. The silver percipitates out and accumulates in the bottom of the bucket as a black sludge. Pour off the iron laden solution and repeat the process with more used fixer and steel wool. Silver recovery companies will purchase the sludge once you dry it out.

Silver can be highly toxic to bacteria. Before modern antibiotics were developed it was commonly used as an injectable, and with various deseases being able to survive in the presence of these drugs silver based antibiotics are coming back into favor. It doesn't appear to be toxic to people in small quantities.

bmattock
01-31-2009, 13:28
I don't want to distract from your main point, since it's a really good question, but there's no particular reason why you can't process film at a home with a septic system. I do, and given the number of people who have septic it's really pretty common. B&W chemistry is pretty unlikely to hurt a healthy septic tank. You wouldn't want to run a professional lab's volume, but the silver in the used fixer is the only component that's harmful to septic bacteria in quantities a home lab is likely to generate. I keep my exhausted fixer and used stop-bath in old plastic bottles and drop them off at the recycling center. You can also reduce waste by using Diafine or another re-usable developer, where only the highly diluted rinsewater ever goes down the drain.

Every state is different, and some counties have their own laws regarding disposal of photographic chemicals. All agree that fixer is bad news for septic systems, in any amount.

http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/hazardous/photo.htm

Photo Chemicals
* Silver may be found in significant concentrations in fixer solution. Silver is a toxic contaminant that can disturb the biological action of a sewage treatment plant and harm aquatic life such as fish and other organisms.
Management Options

* Photographic waste liquids should NOT be poured down the drain if connected to a septic system.
* In sewered areas, developer and rinse solutions may be poured down the drain.

Kodak recommends against it also:

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=4218&pq-locale=en_US

http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/faqs/faq5026.shtml

However, there may be other options besides waiting to process your film until you are off a septic system.

One is to store your used fixer and other chemicals and dispose of them at the local municipal or country hazmat disposal. Most counties have them, and most accept photo-chemicals. You'll have to google and/or call to find out.

Another is to (if you can do this safely) evaporate the chemicals, leaving the residue in your container, but the water is gone. In this manner, you can be left with just a small amount of chemical residue on a tray or container that can be disposed of later more easily and safely.

Your call. I know some people dump fixer into their septic systems and claim it does not harm them, but everything I have ever read advises against it, and technically, it may be illegal depending on where you live.

I personally would never advise it. Those who do advise it are not going to write you a check if you take their advice and end up with huge repair bills or a dead septic system or legal problems.

bmattock
01-31-2009, 13:29
It doesn't appear to be toxic to people in small quantities.

If you don't mind turning blue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argyria

Beemermark
01-31-2009, 16:17
-is on a septic system so I can't do any processing there.
Rob

I'm curious why you think you cannot process film because you have a septic system? I lived for decades with a darkroom and septic system a never recall (or had) a problem.

Just last week I developed a couple of rolls of plus-x that I happened to find and they were of my father, who died in 1995. A little high on contrast but otherwise all right. A few months shouldn't worry anyone.

bmattock
01-31-2009, 16:46
I'm curious why you think you cannot process film because you have a septic system? I lived for decades with a darkroom and septic system a never recall (or had) a problem.

http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=4218&pq-locale=en_US

Kodak does not recommend the use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing chemicals because the disposal of photographic processing solutions may affect the proper operations of the septic system. Septic tank systems are used for the disposal of domestic waste, primarily in areas where municipal sewers are unavailable. Therefore, they are engineered for that stated purpose, and operate with anaerobic (in the absence of oxygen) biological action to accomplish the treatment of discharged wastes.

oftheherd
01-31-2009, 17:55
It's good to hear a lot of people seem to be able to develop after much time after exposure, with no problem. The photo mags and books used to recommend against that, saying that as soon as the film was exposed, the latent image began to deteriorate. Not grossly in a couple of weeks, but certainloy over months or years. I guess that isn't so.

Chris101
01-31-2009, 21:26
Even low concentrations of silver will kill off the anaerobes in a septic tank, resulting in system failure. Developer, stop bath, Photoflo and wash water will not contain sufficient amounts of silver when disposed in small amounts. By using Al's reclamation technique above, virtually all of the silver can be removed from the fixer and hypoclear as well.

I would certainly never suggest that one dumps chemicals in a septic tank against the chemical's manufacturer's statement, but segregation, treatment, dilution and timed release have been known to mitigate many a waste stream. Then again, it depends on the hardship. I don't think a few months delay will damage the latent image, but I know for a fact that two decades can turn a well exposed photograph into a foggy, surrealistic collection of light and dark blobs.

(Although some claim that is just my style.)

bmattock
01-31-2009, 21:50
There are several recurring themes on RFF that I always find amusing.

The first is that in my observation, many RFF members are 'peace and love' types - many are vegetarians. Yet film is made from boiled horse's hooves and bones. Doesn't seem to bother them, even though they will not eat meat or wear leather. But that's not part of this thread.

The second is that (again, in my estimation) many RFF members are 'love mother earth' types (we used to call them tree huggers before we were forced into reeducation camps). They hate the thought of not recycling, not reusing, not cutting down on pollution. And the EPA says thou shalt not pour thy fixer in the ground, it offendeth thy mama - and the local governments say yea, verily, pourest not thy fixer on the ground, and even Kodak says right on dudes, don't pour your fixer into septic systems, it kills the microbes and destroys the leech field - and you guys who possesseth not environmental engineering degrees, but who cruncheth the granola with the best of them - say oh ya sure, pour that junk on the ground. No harm at all.

I am thinking of a word. What is that word? Oh yeah - hypocrites. Get it, 'hypo' crites? Hahahahaha... It works on so many levels...

Oh well, off to bed. G'night, earth-lovers. Be kind to your mama.

rbiemer
02-01-2009, 06:14
As Bill mentioned, there are different laws for different counties and the county I am in specifically says no to photo chemicals in septic systems. And, the maintenance guy for our system has also said "No". Seneca Ray Stoddard had a darkroom here at Camp Hutnington but that was 100 some odd years ago and I suspect his--much more toxic--chemistry ended up in the lake.

I could retain the chemicals until I get to the Hamilton county haz mat site but for me, I think the better choice is to process at home in Cortland, retain the used fixer, treat it as Al suggested, and go from there.

Thanks, y'all!
Rob

Chris101
02-01-2009, 09:03
... I am thinking of a word. What is that word? Oh yeah - hypocrites. Get it, 'hypo' crites? Hahahahaha... It works on so many levels...

Oh well, off to bed. G'night, earth-lovers. Be kind to your mama.:)

Good night Bill.

http://homepage.mac.com/cheilman1/images/photos/fifteen/09.jpg

JohnTF
02-02-2009, 08:02
:)

Good night Bill.

http://homepage.mac.com/cheilman1/images/photos/fifteen/09.jpg


Nice Bokeh, can we see the inside of the water tank next time? Do you agitate counter or clockwise, hard to shake the bowl?

And, where is the film washed?

:p

rbiemer
02-05-2009, 14:11
say oh ya sure, pour that junk on the ground. No harm at all.
"But surely those laws don't apply to me? Must be for all those unenlightened folks." seems to be the thinking about this.
To say nothing of the folks who have told me some version of "of course you can process where you are. It's Ok 'cuz no one will know."
I guess I should have originally asked, "will delaying processing hurt the latent images on my film?" with out bringing up the specifics of why I wondered.
Rob