What went wrong? (I suspect bad developer - film)

Dec 18, 2015
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Hey everyone, I hope you can help me figure this one out, please bear with me

It was not the first time I developed b/w film, but it was the second time I work in this lab, which is in a new school. I'm still pretty inexperienced though.

So I did the usual, developed my Agfa APX 100 with APH 9 for 5.5min at 20ºC (1+25), then stop bath and fixer, everything went fine. Then the film came out blank, without the rebate and the leader, just completely empty, and with a slight greenish tint to it. First I thought I could have switched up the stop bath and the fixer, but it wouldn't explain that result. Unfortunately, the person responsible for the lab was sick, so we had their assistant (who is also a student but with more experience) there to help and no one had seen that happen like that before.

I then asked someone who at least knows a little more than I do, and they said I must have switched the developer with the fixer, which I am sure didn't happen. I found this link that mentioned a similar situation and pointed to the same conclusion: I fixed the film without developing it. (Black and White Film Development Problems.)

Ok, I was sure I developed it first, I confirmed several times the dilution and the temperature, etc., but then I realised I should have gone with what my gut told me when I measured the developer, as it was a little too brown (there were two bottles of the same developer in use, I used the one which seemed to have less product inside because I figured we should use it up, the other one was half way full). And it was a little thick. I should probably mention although I have developed film many times, usually the same recipe anyway, but I don't usually so the dilutions, it's often someone else. So I am not that familiar with the changed with the product over time or in other situations. I went ahead with the process anyway because it was a test roll, not really important and I could afford to mess it up. My gut was telling me that it'd not turn out ok, but I also wanted to see what would happen.

Of course, I'll ask my teachers and technicians but this was the last day of school, now come the holidays and you know, the answers might take a while. Anyway, I think what must have happened is that the developer had gone bad, in which case I don't know why it was there, or if some other student messed it up. In that case it wouldn't have had the strength to develop the film and it was just fixed afterwards. That'd make sense, but I don't really know how bad developer behaves, it just seems that ate least some image should be there, even if barely.

Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to be as descriptive as possible. Thank you. Soph
Expired or weak developer should still do something . Some part of the image, at least the highlights, should be visible. My first guess is you got the fixer and developer mixed up.
That wasn't it. It's not possible, I only prepared the fixer after the developer was already in. (I know I'm supposed to have all my chemicals prepared beforehand, but in this case I'm kinda glad I didn't because that way I can be 100% sure I didn't mix them up) Also the developer was yellow and the fixer was clear, so it'd still be hard to mix them up, could happen but not the case.
Sounds like a possible end of the semester mishap! not on your part but by a bunch of students in a hurry - maybe partly anyway. I used to use a shared darkroom at a university that was available to the community.

I remember once right before spring break (of course), I went in after they were all gone and found a mess, chemistry in the trays that stunk to high heaven. I had gone in just to do some prints but that tray of developer was coal black, I don't know how they were getting prints out of it. So I wasted a strip of paper to try it just to see and it wasn't even usable. I think they were just hurrying to get done and trying to squeeze the last of their prints out of that mess of developer rather than make a fresh batch.

So I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone mixed up who knows what and left it there for you to discover. You might just need to try another roll with fresh chemistry. I'd chalk it up to college students can be slobs, but of course I never was...:barbershop_quartet_member:
After hearing the story, that the fixer was mixed while the film was in development, my first question becomes, "Was the film loaded correctly and did it actually advance through the camera?" Without knowing you, your experience level, and the camera type and how it loads, this question while it might seem insulting, is based on having worked with over 75 different photography students at a major university. Failure to properly load film so that it STAYS in the takeup spool is a huuuuuuuuge, and fairly common problem encountered by many student photographers. There are also other possible issues....like for example....maybe the roll was shot on a rangefinder camera, like say an old Canonet QL-17...but there was a lenscap on the whole roll...I've seen that one a few times!

HERE is a list of B&W film developing problems, entitled "Depressing List of Things That Can Go Wrong":

Black and White Film Development Problems.

Take a look at this early one....

"My film is completely clear.
Indicates gross underexposure. If there really is nothing there at all apart from edge numbers, you probably didn't expose the film at all , either through incorrect loading where the film hasn't wound on or by developing an unused film by accident. If the film is completely clear including the rebate and the leader then you have fixed the film before developing ."
The OP states that there's nothing......... not even the rebate....... on the film. If it was merely unexposed, at least the rebate would show up.
Interesting story, as always...
My bet is 85% on human error, 10% is for some joker, who add stop bath to the container with APH 9, 5% is for the developer, that it died suddenly. APH 9 is otherwise known as R 09 should keep forever, but times and makers of it changed and I had bad experience with it in exactly that way. In any case, if OP insists on mixing it properly, something made it totally inactive.

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