Developing 120

Having had some reasonable success developing rolls of 35mm I acquired a mass of 120 film, some fresh but mainly expired.  Like 32 years expired…

I had a go at shooting and developing one of these expired rolls.  An Ilford HP5 to be precise and it was a nightmare…!  The principle is the same as the 35mm that I have been doing, as is loading it only the spiral, but this roll would not play ball.  A full hour (maybe more) was spent by both myself and my wife trying to get the film to position itself correctly onto the spiral.  The darkroom bag was hot and sweaty and I believe this was a big part of the problem.  As soon as the spirals get any sort of moisture on them the film starts hanging up and you get horrendous problems.  By the time the roll was ‘on’ it was in a bad way.  Scratches, creases and dents were apparent across all of the frames but I went ahead and developed it anyway.  Even before developing, when it was in the bag still it was clear the film was in bad shape.

Developing was fine but as soon as the film came out it was obvious that these images were not going to look their best.  Honestly the film surface had a texture that looked like it had been squashed between a car tyre and the road…!

Not sure how clear it is in the picture but I hope this gives you some idea…!

I have now scanned the film anyway, to see if anything can be salvaged and was actually pretty surprised at the results.  Camera is a 1954 Coronet Flashmaster.  No manual controls at all, so images shot in bright daylight –

Untitled (2) (2) Untitled (2) copy Untitled (2) Untitled (3) Untitled (4) Untitled (5) Untitled (6) Untitled (7) Untitled (8) Untitled (9) Untitled copy Untitled

As you can see they are trashed in all honesty, but I like them anyway.  There is good contrast and tones in the images and I guess partly because of the damage to the negs they look quite historic – I like that!

Maybe with some retouching in Photoshop they can be improved but I may just leave them how they are.  Thats another instalment anyway…!

Speak soon.

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