What causes these blotches on my film?


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Feb 23, 2016
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This was my first time using this particular camera (Canon AE-1). The images are double exposures. I was shooting concurrently with my other AE-1, and those double exposures turned out fine, so I don't think it's a technique issue.

When I rewound the rolls to reload them before the second round of images, one of the rolls got stuck on frame 8 and wouldn't rewind anymore. I messed with it for a few minutes, and I don't know how, but it eventually started to work again. Unfortunately I don't remember which roll got stuck (this weird one or the good one).

But I'm thinking that if all of the frames have the white bars, it was not caused by the film (possibly) getting stuck. It must be a camera issue. Any ideas what would cause this?


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The white areas represent light that has hit the film. Did you possibly accidentally open the camera back at the end of this roll, thinking Camera #1 was Camera #2? That "could" be the issue, but I am assuming that the negatives were in order frame 1 to frame 35, when you made the contact sheet; when a camera is opened, the light leak damage (the white mess!) usually is worst on the film that is right across the film aperture, and also horrible on the first few frames that are on the take up spool, then less and less and less severely on the first and the earliest frames that are tightly wrapped by the film on the take up spool. Ths roll doesn't quite fit the typical, "Ooopsie!, I popped the back open then closed it instantly!" type look.

You say this was the first time you've used this Canon AE1 body...it might very well have a light leak problem. With bulk loaded film in reloadable cartridges, I've seen somewhat similar leaks a time or two.

Somehow, at some point in time, the film was exposed to uncontrolled light. My guess is a foam seal is bad in the new Canon. See how some frames have much wider white bands? If it is a back leak on a foam seal, I think you'd find that the longer the film sat across the film plane area in one location, the wider the band would be, and that shots made, and the film quickly advanced would stand a better chance of being wound-on to the take up spool and then wrapped over with more and more layers of film, and thus less light leak damage.

Light leaks in a camera do not have to be major to cause a problem, but if you ran the film through the same leaky camera, twice, it might get light leak damage pretty badly due to two passes through a camera with a light leak issue of some type.
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Leaky, and probably fixable. And what Derrel said - I've accidently popped open a camera, shut the back door fast! and only 'lost' a few frames at most. This looks like it was thru the whole roll.
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I used to own an old Russian-made Cosmorex SE when I was a junior high school kid. It had a narrow, leather strap on it, with doubled pieces of leather down near the round, split-ring strap attaching system. On the left side of the camera was a small bent-steel,spring-loaded, pull-up-to-open door latch. The latch was designed to be opened with a fingernail. That damned door latch would once in a while catch on the leather strap's stiff, squared-off strap edge, and the back would POP! Open. Happened about once a month. As a boy, I guess I was never smart enough to have considered taping the danged camera shut. I have a number of rolls from the mid-1970's that have Oops! The back opened! White light-leak issues.

If you really MUST use this Canon, you could load it with a 36-shot roll, just get the leader started on the roll, then tape the back of the camera up thoroughly with black gaffer tape, shoot the roll, then rewind it, undo the tape, and repeat the process for the next roll. Or you could put new foam, seals in it.
If there is white on the negatives, it cannot be a light leak - light causes the film to turn black. The effects extend right to the edges of the film which rules out a shutter defect. I am more inclined to think of a developing issue.

If there is white on the negatives, it cannot be a light leak - light causes the film to turn black. The effects extend right to the edges of the film which rules out a shutter defect. I am more inclined to think of a developing issue.........

As it appears we're looking at a positive image of the film, then the light streaks would be white.

A developing issue would not repeat a similar fault at identical locations relative to each frame.
It could be as simple as a gummed-up shutter. The AE-1 has a cloth horizontal-travel shutter, so if the timing between curtains is off, i.e. the curtains don't move exactly the same rate as each other, the gap between them grows or shrinks, effectively changing the shutter speed during the shot.

My own AE-1, near the end of its life, developed a 2nd-curtain lag about 40% across the frame, resulting in a bright area at the point, like one of the bars you're seeing. Apparently the curtain would "catch up" to its proper gap, because the rest of the frame was properly exposed.

Your result may be the curtains just physically being unable to move smoothly across the frame. The fact that it's the same place in a lot of the frames but not all of them says mechanical issue to me rather than light leak.

Another frequent failure in Canons of that line (all the A-whatevers) was loss of the foam around the mirror. That wasn't so much a light seal as a mechanical shock absorber for mirror motion, though.
It could be as simple as a gummed-up shutter. ...........

A malfunctioning shutter cannot cause the relief to be exposed to light.
Agreed, actually. That's what I get for looking at this on my phone! :)

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