Couple Questions

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by sillyphaunt, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    I'm bored, so I have a few things I've been wondering.

    I use the darkroom at my college, so there is a ton of people in and out of there. They have it set up so there's the emulsion tray, the stop bath, the fix tray, then the wash (with a spout in it). There is tongs that are supposed to stay in their designated tray, but people don't pay attention, and I see people all the time using the same tong that just had in the emulsion to lift up their print and put it in the fix, or taking the one from the fix and using it to get something out of the emulsion tray. From what I've read, mixing them can mess up the chemicals right? Can that little amount that would be on the tongs affect it?

    Also, the temperature of the stop baths are never the same, sometimes they're warm, sometimes cold. Does that make a difference?

    Unfortunatly I really don't have a way to regulate things, I'm only paying $30 to use the darkroom for 3 months, so I can't really complain. I'm just wondering if I should expect to get any very good stuff out of there.

    How would that affect your prints? I've had a few negatives that I've scanned and they look a lot BETTER after I've scanned them than I was able to get them to look when developing. A lot of the stuff I print just seems really flat, I have to use a 3 1/2 filter to get any decent contrast. Although that may be my fault because I'm not that great at exposure yet. :lol:

    Another question, a bit off topic, but I've noticed that there is not a lot of contrast with my Holga. is this the case for most of them? I have used a filter on a lot of them, and they look a lot better. I'm thinking of getting another Holga because this one doesnt have as much vignetting as I'd like.
     
  2. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    How are you shooting with your holga? Is that frame inside popped out or just cut out? It vignettes better with it popped out, but then light leaks are much easier to get also.

    If your negatives scan good, then they should print good. It all comes from the same source after all.

    If the chemicals get contaminated, then it can mess stuff up (you especially don't want stop bath in the developer), but I don't know how much it would take. I am sure Matt or Hertz can answer that one a lot better.
     
  3. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    With regards cross-contamination: I've posted elsewhere about pH and development.
    The developer works in alkaline solution. Stop works by neutralising the alkali (stop is either acetic or citric acid). Fixer is usually acidified with acetic acid. Any acid getting into the dev will kill it and reduce it's effectiveness or stop it working altogether. How much acid it takes depends upon the condition of the dev, volume in the tray, strength of stop, etc - but it is usually not much.
    Fix can also contain a high proportion of silver (it disolves out undeveloped silver salts). Putting silver into dev means that the dev is developing that silver as well as what is in your print, reducing it's working life.
    In short, any contamination of dev is bad and should be avoided at all costs.
    The temperature of chemicals in all photo processes is critical. With stop and fix lowering the temp means that the chemical reactions take place at a slower rate, which is not a good thing but shouldn't cause too many problems unless the temp is very low (below about 10C) just leave things in for longer.
    Warmer (above 30C) and you can start getting chemical dissociation and unpleasant by-products.
    Grey prints could indicate exhausted dev. It also happens when the dev temp drops below about 17C. Print dev normally has two components - one for blacks the other for greys. The one for blacks stops working below 17Cish so you just get grey prints.
    You can loose contrast for many other reasons though: lens flare, bad development, developing for a condenser enlarger and using a cold cathode head, etc, etc. I'd have to look at the darkroom and your negs and prints before I could give you a verdict.
    Is there any possibility that you could take your own trays and chemicals in? It's the best solution.
     
  4. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    I would like to Hertz, but there's not any room in there. I'm persuading my husband to make me my own darkroom when we buy a house (when he gets home the end of this year), so I may have to deal with it till then.

    I forgot to say that they don't use any chemical stop bath, its just water. How big of a difference does that make?

    And I HAVE been developing my own film, so maybe I'm just not doing it right? Its B/W film. If I took it somewhere to be developed would that be better to see if I'm just messing that part up?

    Sorry if I"m asking questions that have been asked a million times. I have searched websites, but I know so little I dont' even know where to start.

    Orie-

    I did take the mask thing off to make it the full size, and its still not very vignetted. I think I may have just gotten a bad (which means good) Holga. :lol: I do, however have a triangle shaped light leak on almost all my pictures. I know that's common, and I've read how to fix it, but I just am not all that eager to pull apart the shutter and do it, I am afraid I'll break it.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Using gang darkrooms is a drag if other folks are sloppy. That's one of the reasons I took a break from teaching photo classes. I was taught by a darkroom nazi, and I would pass that along to my students, but the other instructors didn't. I got tired of spending so much extra time cleaning and organizing the darkroom. Don't get me wrong, my darkroom is a mess. But it's my mess, and no one else has to deal with it. :)

    Obviously it's okay to contaminate going down the line (developer into stop, stop into fixer), because that's what your print is doing. It's going the other way that's no good (stop into dev, fix into stop or dev). When you start getting fix on your hands or on the dev tongs you'll end up with stains on your prints. It occasionally happens to me when I don't get the fix off my hands, and I start a new print.

    Chem temps are less critical with prints than film, but it's still a good idea to keep them close to each other.

    There are numerous things that would affect print contrast, but I'm guessing it's mostly your inexperience ;) Keep doing it, you'll get the hang of it. Don't settle for flat prints, keep working on it. If you are having problems solving it in the printing stage, you need to look at your negs, and do something different there to increase contrast.

    The Holga lens probably is considered a low contrast lens (no multi-coatings, etc...). To increase contrast you could under-expose and over develop. What film are you using? If it's something like HP5 or Tri-X try a 1 stop under -exposure, and add +50% to the dev time. See how that works for you and adjust. Of course, I don't know when you are shooting it; an overcast day will give low contrast, and a sunny day will be more contrast.

    I love my old, crappy-coated vintage lenses on a bright, sunny day. They are so low contrast that I don't need a fill flash. :)
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    We've had the water vs acid stop conversation a few times. There are definately folks that go both ways. It also depends on what kind of fixer you are using. I always used a weak acid stop (much weaker than Kodak recommended mixing it up). Mostly I used it to extend the life of my Kodak or Ilford rapid fixer. Then I switched to TF-4 fixer, which recommends not using an acid stop, so now I'm using water. I think using water is fine whatever your fixer, but it does have to be changed often, or it just turns into a weak dev bath, and pay attention to fixer strength. You can get a little bottle of hypo-check for cheap.

    There is no guarantee the lab would do it "right" either, and since they are probably doing it with some sort of automated machine, it probably would be different. Keep doing it your self. Concentrate on making everything the same every time, and then when you change one thing (agitation, temp, time, etc...), you know that it's the only variable.
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Kylie: $30 for three months is not a lot of money. The school facility I was using charged a LOT more, and there some mistakes and carelessness because it was a community darkroom, used by students and pros alike. But it was pretty well regulated by darkroom nazis, and I was glad they were there, checking the fix and adjusting the water flow in the wash and basically poking around. ;)

    All that said, you still should expect some uniformity of process there, and it's obvious you don't have it. I'd find somebody to complain to about what you're witnessing, and maybe someone can start paying more attention, or put up signs, at least.

    The reason I have my darkroom today is for that very reason. I don't like sharing, carefully agitating a print only to have someone throw theirs in the tray right on top mine. :x Even having to share the Gralab annoyed the crap out of me. I like to say I'm a perfectionist, but I fear it's more just being a brat. :mrgreen: Either way, while you're paying, make them look out for your interests, as well as theirs. You can be a slob at home, like Matt was saying, but at least you know it's your own mess and no one is contaminating the developer behind your back!
     
  8. sillyphaunt

    sillyphaunt TPF Noob!

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    Thanks so much for taking the time to answer everyone! I've already learned SO much from you all, I would be much further behind in knowledge without your brains to pick. But, in the case of spending money, I'd probably be quite a bit more AHEAD if I quit looking at all the cool alternative processes you guys talk about.. So maybe it all evens out? :lol:

    Terri, If you're a brat, then I am too. I usually go to the darkroom in the morning when no one else is there. I lke to have my space and the ability to talk to myself. People think you're a bit strange if you're arguing with yourself about test strips. :lol:
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Yeah, around here it's $80 for about 3 months for access to a gang darkroom with no real lab attendant, or about $180 for 3 months for access to a gang darkroom with a good lab attendant (keeps everything in order and clean).
     
  10. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    When I joined a rental darkroom it was $100 a month. I think it's up to $125 now.
     

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