Mistakes Were Made

Mistakes. We all make them. Some admit to them, some try to hide them and deny it happened. I used to be one of the latter until I realized denying what happened was robbing me of learning experiences. Thankfully I have become one of the former and now embrace my errors and view them not so much as failures but as lessons, or clues, into areas where processes or thinkings need to be tweaked.

One such “learning experience” happened just this week. Since I had yesterday off from work I decided to develop a roll of Fomapan 100 that had been sitting around for a couple of weeks. Nothing special on it, which is why it was still undeveloped. I, of course, chose D23 as the developer and processed the film as usual. After fixing and pulling the film from the tank to see what I had gotten I was greeted to a completely clear strip of film. Nothing. Not even edge markings. If you develop your own film then I’m sure you know what I was feeling.

Thinking that possibly the film hadn’t actually been exposed, I loaded up my Holga 120N with a roll of Fomapan 400 and headed out to see what I could find that suited a Holga. Came home, processed the film, and…nothing. It looked just like the roll for Fomapan 100 I developed earlier in the morning. Now disappointment turned to anger and panic. It surely wasn’t due to a faulty camera, the Foma 100 was 35mm and the Foma 400 was 120.

The only thing I knew to do, other than expose another roll of film, was to do a clip test. So I poured out some D23 into my measuring cup and inserted a small strip of film I took from my bulk loader and gently moved it around in the solution. If the developer was good then the strip (clip) would go almost black. In a matter of 45 seconds the clip started to clear! Son of a biscuit!

“What went wrong? How could this have happened?”, I thought. The only thing I can think that would have caused this was inattention to the process when after I had developed my roll of HP5 last Sunday. At some point I must have thought I was returning the used developer back into the jug when I was actually pouring the fixer into it. If that is the case, then I must have put the developer into the fixer. I quickly pulled another clip from the bulk loader and did a clip test on the fixer. Forty-five seconds later the film had cleared (this is almost one year old TF-4, mind you). Phew, the fixer was still good.

The takeaway from this is to not become so familiar or comfortable with your process that you go into “autopilot” mode until the process is finished. Routine is good and yields consistency, just be attentive during the process.

As always, thanks for stopping by. God Bless and Happy Shooting!

4 thoughts on “Mistakes Were Made

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  1. On the other hand – if you’re not making mistakes your not learning. Hopefully, nothing too valuable on the first film. Biggest shame is having to start seasoning the D23 again.

    1. Agreed. That was the conclusion I finally came to and started embracing mistakes as a tool to make changes for the better.

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