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Thread: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    I was excited to process my fourth roll of self-developed film today. Each previous time it took me a while to load the film onto the reel, but I always got the film loaded eventually, and went on to a successful developing experience.

    Not today . I was trying to load up some Efke 100 that I'd shot to test my Sonnar after its "accident" (another thread in another subforum, and possibly why I was on a short fuse). Anyway, the film just started either binding, or refusing to "catch", right away. It took me a million tries to get it started onto the reel, then on three different occasions, it started binding after a bunch of film was loaded. On the last loading try, I realized that the film was starting to stick to itself and that my pictures were most likely going to be ruined whether I got it onto the reel or not. Then that attempt got bound up, too!

    I ended up yanking my arms out of the armholes of the bag, ripping the bag open, and yanking the film and reel out of the bag to look at it and yell at it for a moment. Then I yanked the reel apart and yanked the film off of it, and threw the film to the ground . Then I picked it up and cursed at it at the top of my lungs, and threw it down again, for good measure . Surprisingly, I didn't jump up and down on it, but I did do my best to get the attention of any supreme being that might be listening for offensive language. I may have thrown the changing bag into the corner, too. Yes, actually, I did. I didn't throw the scissors, luckily. Let's just say I was in a blind rage.

    Anyway, while I was still pissed, but had stopped throwing things, I put the reel back together and found that I could practically toss the film at the loading slot from three feet away and get it to load right right onto the reel. This is the same experience I had when practicing loading my test roll in the open air (with eyes closed, and in the dark) before my first roll.

    So my conclusion is that the humidity that forms in the bag as soon as I put my hands in it is to blame. It is truly trivial to fully load even this (horribly abused) film onto the (also horribly abused) reel out in the open, dry, air of my Denver basement.

    I guess I'll just load film onto reels in my bathroom, at night, from now on. That way I can just get the film and the reel within a few inches of each other and have the film jump into the slot and wind on as if by magic.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I feel better (sort-of) now.

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    Senior Member M5-Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Curios, Do you use plastic semi self-loading from the outer rim and self wind towards the center, or medal reels that load from the center out as you keep the film curved a bit.
    And another Q, do you have a pair of safety sissers (rounded ends) to make a clean cut of the films leading end, before you load the fill on the reel?

    I have found in the past, the Plastic Self-Loading reels are great for us that have trouble with the medal reels.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    It's a plastic self-feeding reel that just won't self-feed very nicely when in a changing bag. I was demonstrating to my wife later, that in the open air, I could load the entire 36 exposure roll perfectly in 10 seconds (max), standing up, and with my eyes closed.

    I actually use a very nice set of Fiskars scissors to trim the leader. They cut beautifully, but I do have to be careful because they're pointy .

    I think I'm going to shoot another quick roll tonight and try loading it up in the open air of the basement bathroom. I'll bet I'm locked and loaded in one attempt.

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    Senior Member M5-Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Quote Originally Posted by mathomas View Post
    It's a plastic self-feeding reel that just won't self-feed very nicely when in a changing bag. I was demonstrating to my wife later, that in the open air, I could load the entire 36 exposure roll perfectly in 10 seconds (max), standing up, and with my eyes closed.

    I actually use a very nice set of Fiskars scissors to trim the leader. They cut beautifully, but I do have to be careful because they're pointy .

    I think I'm going to shoot another quick roll tonight and try loading it up in the open air of the basement bathroom. I'll bet I'm locked and loaded in one attempt.
    Good Luck
    practice with a blank roll, IN the changing bag, over and over.... you'll get it...
    Peter

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Thanks

    I did get out to shoot a roll of Tri-X tonight, just so I could get the test shots I needed with the Sonnar and to re-try loading a reel of film. This time, I did it standing in my basement bathroom. Literally, from lights-off to lights-on, I think it took 1.5 minutes. With the changing bag it has taken me at least a half hour each time. This is my technique from now on (as long as it's dark outside when I load my film, and I think I can arrange that).

    Also, it turns out I managed to rip the changing bag during my tantrum. That's another reason to just do it in a dark bathroom .

  6. #6
    tokengirl
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    I have come to the conclusion that those plastic reels are just plain evil. IMO, the absolute best reel for 35mm film is a stainless steel Hewes reel. It costs about four times as much as the other stainless steel reels out there, but its design is ingenious. Instead of having a clip in the center that you shove the end of the film into, it has two little tabs for the sprocket holes to grab onto. Once you have the film end on those little tabs, the film can be wound on straight and easy. I have not timed myself, but I do know that I am done in less than three minutes. If I had a room in the house that was completely dark, it would be even faster, as the changing bag definitely slows me down (and cuts off the circulation to my hands ).

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Quote Originally Posted by tokengirl View Post
    I have come to the conclusion that those plastic reels are just plain evil. IMO, the absolute best reel for 35mm film is a stainless steel Hewes reel. It costs about four times as much as the other stainless steel reels out there, but its design is ingenious. Instead of having a clip in the center that you shove the end of the film into, it has two little tabs for the sprocket holes to grab onto. Once you have the film end on those little tabs, the film can be wound on straight and easy. I have not timed myself, but I do know that I am done in less than three minutes. If I had a room in the house that was completely dark, it would be even faster, as the changing bag definitely slows me down (and cuts off the circulation to my hands ).
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I've read about, and watch videos of, steel reel loading. However, now that I've figured out it's all about humidity, I'll stick with the plastic reel for a bit longer, since it's working fine for now.

    I loaded up another roll yesterday, this time of Efke 100 (the film that gave me fits in the original case), and did so in my darkbathroom, in the open air. Again, 1.5 minutes from lights off to lights on. It only took that long because I dropped the roll once the film was feeding, and it got a curled up a little funny and I had to straighten it out.

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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    The humidity is one thing, the constrained space in changing bags is another. Changing tents are much, much nicer to use...as long as they have their own structure. Calumet used to make one that sort of folded out on its on, kind of like a reflector. I currently use a Hamilton Pup Tent in the field, and that is great. There is a lot more space, so humidity does not build up as quickly, and the design is very good. Nothing beats an actual darkroom though...as you discovered.

    And I also have to agree with tokengirl and the Hewes reels -- they are definitely worth it.
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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    The humidity is one thing, the constrained space in changing bags is another. Changing tents are much, much nicer to use...as long as they have their own structure. Calumet used to make one that sort of folded out on its on, kind of like a reflector. I currently use a Hamilton Pup Tent in the field, and that is great. There is a lot more space, so humidity does not build up as quickly, and the design is very good. Nothing beats an actual darkroom though...as you discovered.

    And I also have to agree with tokengirl and the Hewes reels -- they are definitely worth it.
    Thanks, Stuart. The changing tent seems like a good idea for all the reasons you give. I'm going to stick with the darkbathroom until I have a really hardcore need for a tent-style system. Good to know they work well.

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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    A couple of suggestions re the plastic reels (I use both, and prefer the metal ones)...

    1) When you cut off the leader, make two more cuts, taking the sharp corner off of each side, just a very slight amount. Those corners can get bent and will really screw up the loading.

    2) If the film doesn't want to move, press the ends of the reel together, toward the film, very gently, and try rotating the reel again. Sometimes the film gets skewed and needs to be re-seated in the grooves.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    120 or 35mm? The former usually benefits from working the lead end a little bit. Like wrap it backwards tightly around a finger and work it to make it uncoil. It can also help cutting ever so little off the lead corners to reduce snag, but don't cut too much or it won't stay on the reels.

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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    I haven't shot Efke in about 4 years, but last time I remember it having a really thick gelatinous coating, like glue. If that stuff gets moist I can imagine it's impossible to get on a reel. It usually take a good long rinse to completely remove it after development as well. Make sure everything is impeccably dry.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Thanks Jan. It's 135 that I've been doing, so far. I finally got a 120 tank and reel, so I'll be doing that soon. I've had much better luck since changing in open air in my dark bathroom. I've also taken to using a heat gun (from a distance) on the reel to ensure it's plenty dry.

  14. #14
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Now that drugstore minilabs seem to be closing in droves, it's fairly easy and rather cheap to get hold of a deconsecrated daylight changing box. I got mine online for $20. It's a solid, light-tight box, about the size of a small microwave oven, with a door fitted with double armsleeves made of rubberized material and elastic cuffs. Much nicer to use than a changing bag, no problem with humidity. Relief for victims of film loading rage.

    Peter.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Grrrrr, changing bag disaster!!

    Anger management seems to be in order! ;-)

    On the rare occasions nowadays that I load film, it's a Zen thing. Breathe deep, go slow, be patient. Time passes, film loads, processes are completed. Done. :-)

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