Why am I getting blotches on my black and white negatives? What are the marks? Are they dust? Water spots? How do I fix this?
I'm a relative newbie when it comes to film photograhpy, but I've been doing digital photography for a few years. I develop my own black and white film at home, and I've been less than pleased with the results when I scan my film. I have the dreaded 'crap on the negative' issue. It's started off so bad that I couldn't even print my negatives using an enlarger due to the amount of junk on the negs. Exhibit A
- a crop at 100% of a corner of a negative.
Here's how I develop, and what I've done so far to fix this:
I mix all my chemicals using tap water. I'm using the standard Sprint developer and quick fixer, and stop my film using plain ol' tap water. I do a first rinse using tap water. This is all deemed fine by general consensus of photography dorks everywhere. I am using a plastic 2 135 roll development tank, capacity for two rolls of film 650ml.
I dry my film hanging from the shower bar, after the hot water was run to make the room nice and steamy and left to clear. The bathroom isn't dusty, and there hasn't been any dust on any surfaces, really, since we moved in. I make sure no one cleans the bathroom at least I24 hours before I hang film to dry. I determine dryness by curl (towards emulsion), and if the curl is correct, I test a 'spare' area of film for tackiness. Once I deem the film dry, I cut and place the negs in new archival sheet holders.
The first few rolls I developed came out disgusting, with obvious spots, water marks around the sprockets, and other disgustingness.
After much discussion with the guys at the darkroom
I use to print my photos, they felt I should try a squeegee for my film. I also decided to use distilled water for a final rinse, about half a gallon of water. When I asked about a wetting agent, they claimed that it will cause more problems than it solves with regards to spots.
My negs were slightly cleaner, but still spotty and I could see a few nasty, large water spots here and there. Also, I have noticed some gnarly scratches that may have been caused by the squeegee OR the archival sleeves I put my negatives into once dry.
So, please, take a look at that shot, and let me know if you think those are dust spots or (more likely) water spots. Should I look into photoflo, or another wetting agent? Is the squeegee the cause of the scratches, or could it be more likely my negative holder sheets? I'm starting to get sick of fixing dust scratches in the gimp, and I'd like to make some nice analog enlargements of some of my negatives!