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GrampaDoug

Developing HELP needed

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I’m trying to get back into developing my own B&W 35mm film and having a major problem, my developed film is clear blank, nothing, nada, zilch. I’m using the Semi-Stand development process with Rodinal. I mix my Rodinal 1- 100 and do the semi-stand routine, total time 1 hour. After a good rinse I did the fix, agitation for a minute and 10 seconds per 60 for 5 minutes. Pretty standard. At first I thought that my film wasn’t properly loaded so I tried it again, using a great deal of care while loading. Developed the second roll, same thing, blank. I did note that when I dumped the fix there was a pink tint to the liquid, is that normal? Not to be defeated I tried a 3rd roll, same results. The frustration is setting in at this point and I’m starting to doubt myself. The only other variable is the chemistry. The Rodinal lasts forever, so I’m told, but the fix is a couple of years old. Could the fix go bad after a couple of years and strip the images? I have some fresh chemistry on order, due next week. I’ll try it again when they arrive. Has this happened to anyone else? What would cause this to happen?

Help prevent a fellow photographer from taking up golf! Thanks,

Doug

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Does the film have any numbers/manufacturers name/film type running on the edges near the sprockets holes (after development)? if so, then it seems that no light is getting to the film from your camera. If not, then one possibility is mixing up the chemicals (putting fixer in first)  

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I think 105012 is right in his assessment - make certain you are getting Rodinal in your 1:100 developer mix.

I'm also left wondering what camera you are using to shoot your film?  With a rangefinder, it is relatively easy to forget to remove your lens cap when shooting and not realize it till your negs come out of the developing tank with nothing on them.

Edited by Herr Barnack

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As mentioned above, there should be text along the edges outside of the sprocket holes that would show up from development, regardless of exposure in the camera. Also the leader of the film exposed during loading should be black. If these are correct, the camera is not exposing film. If these areas are blank, the film is not being developed. Assuming film is developed first, fixer clears the film, dissolving the unexposed areas - even fixing 2-3 x normal time wouldn't cause this, nor would stop or rinse.

If it looks like a development problem, I'd go back to basics and use Rodinal 1:25 with 1-min agitations. 

After getting back to film processing after a generation lag, I use labeled plastic beakers for each step of the process, so the developer beaker sees only developer, etc. with the prepared beakers in clockwise order around the Nikor tank. Keeps my old, foggy mind from making as many mistakes as possible.

Back 50 years or so I'd use pre-filled tanks and move the reels from one to the next in the dark, but now a changing bag is easier in my makeshift darkroom.

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I agree with TomB_tx. I don't believe that any developer lasts forever. I suggest that you get some fresh Rodinal, and develop conventionally as a start. If your current supply of Rodinal is going off, a dilution of 100:1 may be too great a dilution to be effective. Maximize your chances of success.

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Thanks for your thoughts. The film was Agfa’s APX 400, there were no manufactures codes on the edges, there was no black at all, anywhere, it was one solid clear film. The camera is a Leica M6, a camera I have used successfully in the past, but I did look through the back while clicking the shutter and it works fine. As I mentioned, I have some fresh Rodinal and Arista Premium Odorless Liquid Fixer on its way (anyone have experience with this product? I liked the odorless part).  Regarding the possible wrong usage of chemicals, I guess anything is possible, however unlikely.

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I’ve been using the Arista Premium Odorless fixer and it works well, clearing film amazingly fast - about 30 seconds when fresh, so fix for about 1-1/2 minutes does it.

I haven’t tried APX 400. I prefer slower films, but this time of year I’ll do Tri-X, HP5+ 400, and lately Arista EDU 400. Tri-X still gives great images, but has a lot of curl so doesn’t lay flat to scan sharply. HP5 stays flatter for scanning, but larger grain. The Arista 400 is interesting: feels like a thicker base so dries totally flat and scans well, but doesn’t seem to have anti-halation, so get wide halos around highlight!

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10 hours ago, GrampaDoug said:

 there were no manufactures codes on the edges, there was no black at all, anywhere, it was one solid clear film. 

Which logically means either:-

1) your Rodinal was completely exhausted or

2) developer and fixer were used in the wrong order.

I use Rodinal and am getting to the dregs of the current bottle - it is very dark in appearance but still works (at both 1:100 & 1:50).

The two occasions I have had film come out of the tank in the condition you describe were caused (first time) by using Ilfosol 3 that was a little over three months old and oxidised. Second occasion I had rearranged the long-time dev-stop-fix arrangement on the draining board to fix-stop-dev (the draining board is on the left of the sink) thinking it made a more logical arrangement.  Distracted by some domestic events, auto-pilot kicked in...  :0

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Yes, sounds as if the film was not developed at all but only fixed. I use Rodinal and it works right down to the last dregs so you should have got something. I wonder if the pink colour in the fixer indicates some cross contamination between developer and fixer? I just used up the last dregs in a 500ml bottle that was opened a year ago and it was fine, FP4 at  1:25 for 8 minutes. 

A couple of days ago I developed a sheet of 5x4 at 1:25 only using 4ml of Rodinal to make up 100ml used in a 10x8 print drum on a drum roller, continuous agitation. I don’t understand the desire to do stand development with no agitation, it is asking for uneven development. For normal 35mm films I use a Paterson tank with invertion agitation about every minute.

Edited by Pyrogallol

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It seems that the general consensus would be exhausted developer. Both the developer and fix are a couple of years old. When I found the Rodinal there was about a half inch of crystals at the bottom so I tried to break it up with some vigorous shaking. The fix was the same, a white cloud at the bottom of the jug. As mentioned, I’m expecting fresh chemicals by Friday (bad time of year for shipping chemicals). 
I know all this sounds like I’ve never been around a darkroom, believe it or not, before digital changed the production of printing I was a graphic arts Camerman, converting original art to halftone for printing. My camera was the size of a pickup truck, I could shoot 20”x24” at 100%. Chemistry was always fresh due to the level of work, so nothing like this would have happened. Ah, the good old days, before the computer changed the world.

Again, thanks for your thoughts.

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I just got back into developing after 15 years, bought all new chemistry. 1st roll looked good. If the developer had been stored with air in the bottle for over a year, the developing agents are either weak or exhausted. 

Have a 4x5 lens I rescued from a lab that was breaking down their graphic arts camera and selling it for scrap, photo world changed 20 or so years ago.

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Posted (edited)
On 12/30/2019 at 9:50 AM, GrampaDoug said:

When I found the Rodinal there was about a half inch of crystals at the bottom so I tried to break it up with some vigorous shaking.

Usually a bad sign. Frankly, despite internet opinions to the contrary, when I first used Rodinal (1972±) it was known to be very prone to oxidation. The brown-glass bottles came with inner rubber stoppers, and photographers "in the know" never removed those stoppers, but drew out the concentrate with hypodermic needles so as to minimize any fresh air getting into the bottle. (Became a pain once "wars on drugs" limited access to hypodermics. ;) ).

Part of Rodinal's magic and resolution is that it contains very little sodium sulfite to soften grain. However, sodium sulfite is a preservative and anti-oxidant (thus its use in wines, salad bars and dried fruit) and without it, a developer's organic compounds will spoil faster.

As to fixer - if it goes bad, it won't do anything to the film. it will just fail to fix it - the film will look milky instead of transparent 9and will still be sensitive to light - can fog over time to black). Failed fixer certainly will not remove or "strip" the images.

(Reminds me of the lab story about the customer whose film came out blank - she absolutely insisted that the lab strip down its whole Noritsu processor, because she was sure the pictures had fallen off the film and were in the bottom of the tanks somewhere ;););) )

A pink tint to fix or other chems after use is usually just leached anti-halation dye from the film - which is supposed to leach out. Very, very common with Kodak TMax films.

Blank film with no markings either? Failed development step, pure and simple. Too old, too low a temperature.

Edited by adan

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I had miscalculated just how long that developer had been sitting in my cupboard, turns out to have been over 6 years old. I am here to tell you that it was too long. Fresh batch of developer and fix and all is well. I am convinced the old Rodinal deluded down to stand strength was not enough to process the film. Attached is one taken to practice on and while not perfect, I’m happy. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

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