Analogue Resolutions: Processing Errors I Will Avoid in 2013

2013-01-21 5

Since I started developing my own color pictures, I have produced many wonderful pictures (well, I think so, anyway…). I have also produced many horrible mistaskes. As they say, to err is human, to learn divine. For your entertainment, and perhaps education, here are my biggest processing mistakes I hopefully will not repeat this year.

Credits: stratski

I am the lucky owner of a Jobo AT1500, a processing machine. This machine makes processing your films (both color and black and white) very easy, since it takes care of the right temperature, timing, and agitation. All you have to do is mix the chemicals, pour them in the right bottles, choose the appropriate program, and push GO. Still, there are many things that can go wrong, as I have learned the hard way…

Negatives stuck together

You can fit two 120 rolls on one developing spool. But if you fumble a bit, they can overlap somehow and stick together. At those points, the chemicals won’t cover the negative and you’ll get undeveloped spots on your picture.

Credits: stratski


Take my time spooling film.

Forgot the fixer

I realized this when I noticed the bottle of fixer in my processing machine was still open and full. Apparently the machine does not use chemicals from an open bottle.

Credits: stratski


Luckily, you can fix your pictures later on. So I ran the machine again, with just the fixer, and everything was fine.

Chemicals are too cold

All my pictures came out dark and green. Crowdsourcing the problem to the lomo community made me realize I had stored my chemical too cold.

Credits: stratski


I now store my chemicals at room temperature.

Processed at 24 °C instead of 38 °C

I realized this when I noticed that my processing machine was done very quickly, it usually takes longer to reach the right temperature. I had accidentally pushed a button, changing the temperature from 38 °C (the right temperature for color development) to 24 °C (for B&W). Interesting to see how different film reacts to this: the color negative film took it pretty good. The colors are a bit off, but nothing too dramatic. The Rollei Crossbird I developed in the same run didn’t take it very well at all. Those pictures look like extreme redscale.

Credits: stratski


Pay better attention to which buttons I push!

Reused my chemicals too often

Normally, you can use your chemicals two or three times before they stop working. You do have to pay attention how often you can do this, it depends on the ISO value of your film, number of films developed, how you store your chemicals. Plenty of ways to get it wrong… With this roll, at first I thought my pictures were completely undeveloped, but when I scanned the negatives, they turned out to be just very, very thin. So at least I have a little bit to show for my trouble.

Credits: stratski

It’s not always this dramatic though. Sometimes, I just get murky colors.

Credits: stratski


Be less cheap and only use my chemicals twice.

Probably contaminated chemicals

A few rolls came out totally black. This was the second time I used these chemicals, so they should still be good. They were stored at room temperature, so it couldn’t have been due to cold storage either. I can only guess that my chemicals somehow got polluted. If you acidentally get fixer into your developer, the developer is ruined.


Take better care cleaning my machine between developing rounds. All chemicals come out of the same tube, so it’s important to clean that tube well, or I’ll get fixer in my developer.

Not enough chemicals

I only realized this afterwards: instead of using the appropriate 250 ml in my medium developing tank, I had only used 170 ml, enough for the small developing tank. Luckily, 170 ml did the trick as well, although I’ve seen better contrast in B&W film.

Credits: stratski


Again: Pay better attention!

Overall conclusion: The devil is in the details. This year, I will do my best not to rush things, and not to get sloppy, but pay close attention to what I’m doing. 2013 is going to be great!

written by stratski on 2013-01-21 #lifestyle #developing #mistake #new-year #darkroom #resolutions #processing #fail #error #2013


  1. radiognome
    radiognome ·

    Thanks for sharing your 'mistakes'. Made a few of the same myself, adding 'too old working solutions' resulting in an effect like reusing them too often, but more 'dramatic'. Which brand of chemicals do you use?

    I would like to point out to all readers, developing your own C41 and E6 is basically no more difficult than B&W, especially if you are not doing e.g. a extremely color critical fashionshoot. You only need to add a thermometer going above 40 degrees to your equipment.

    Just use a large bucket of hot water to get your chemical bottles and development tank up to temperature (when the bucket has dropped to processing temp, your chemicals will have warmed up to it as well). Only the first development step of 3.5 minutes is really temperature critical, so with a large enough bucket you will finish it nicely without too much drop in temperature.

    I use Rollei Digibase C41, and it is very forgiving compared to what I read in books from the 70's. Tetenal E6 three-bath is just as easy going.

    To keep my chemicals a bit clean, I do a wash (with warm water from the bucket) after every step. This way I get at least a roll more out of my working solutions, compared to what it says on the package.

    Kind regards, Martin

  2. stratski
    stratski ·

    @radiognome: Thanks for your tips. I agree with you that anyone who does their own B&W processing should at least give color a try as well. I use Tetenal two-bath, since it's relatively cheap, and comes in large quantities. But perhaps I should give Rollei Digibase a try as well. I haven't tried E6 yet.

  3. radiognome
    radiognome ·

    I use Digibase as it comes in small quantities, and is targeted at small home developers with a simple tank, like me ;-) The working solutions oxidize in a few weeks, but the base chemicals have quite a long shelf life. I don't know how they would fare in your machine (jealous, jealous....).

  4. cmosek
    cmosek ·

    There is also an error with your scanning process in some pictures, for example . It is called Newton's rings.'s_rings
    What type of scanning equipment do you use?

  5. stratski
    stratski ·

    @cmosek: I know... :-/ When my negatives are very curly, it's hard to get them flat, either in the scanning mask that came with my Epson V500, or with the Digitaliza. So they touch the scanner bed and those rings appear. Flattening them between some heavy books for a few days works more or less, but I usually don't have the patience to wait for that.

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