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Author Topic: Photoflo - Slippery When Wet  (Read 22744 times)
Denis K
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« on: June 10, 2009, 02:46:34 PM »
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I was down at the camera store the other day and saw that Photoflo was now only available in 16 oz. bottles.  Before I give my opinion about this size bottle, I thought I would solicit a few opinions about your Photoflo usage patterns.  How would you characterize your personal usage relative to my Photoflo scale?

1. Photo-What?
2. Never use Photoflo because it contaminates your equipment and screws up development times.
3. A little Photoflo goes a loooong way.
4. You can’t use too little Photoflo.
6. I have an eyedropper rubber banded to the side of the bottle; drop-drop-fizz-fizz.
7. I just pour it directly from the bottle because anything else is too much trouble.
8. If a few drops are good then a whole teaspoon must be better.
9. As a last step I dunk my film directly into a bath of straight Photoflo.

Denis K
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mikeseb
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2009, 03:06:11 PM »
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#3 or #4.

I put it in my empty Fomaflow squeeze bottle. 2 drops per roll in the film tank with water to cover the film, agitated vigorously for 30 sec, seems to do the trick.
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michael sebastian
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2009, 03:54:21 PM »
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Quote from: Denis K
I was down at the camera store the other day and saw that Photoflo was now only available in 16 oz. bottles.  Before I give my opinion about this size bottle, I thought I would solicit a few opinions about your Photoflo usage patterns.  How would you characterize your personal usage relative to my Photoflo scale?

1. Photo-What?
2. Never use Photoflo because it contaminates your equipment and screws up development times.
3. A little Photoflo goes a loooong way.
4. You can’t use too little Photoflo.
6. I have an eyedropper rubber banded to the side of the bottle; drop-drop-fizz-fizz.
7. I just pour it directly from the bottle because anything else is too much trouble.
8. If a few drops are good then a whole teaspoon must be better.
9. As a last step I dunk my film directly into a bath of straight Photoflo.

Denis K



Option 4.

I donīt like the idea of too vigorous a shaking: you can create bubbles that way.

My technique used to be to make up a full tank īs worth of plain water at 68 - 70 degrees F and pour that into the dev tank as a pre-developer bath in the hope of getting the film evenly wet, agitating by inversion. Then, after a minute or two, Iīd empty that out, shake the tank well and then pour in the developer and agitate via inversion, slowly, for the first minute, regardless of instructions to the contrary. Then two inversions every thirty secs. The point is, if you get a routine and stick to it, you find the correct times by experience. Standardisation is key. But always slow inversion, with a pause in between each, in an attempt to give the fluid time to float any bubbles off the film face.

I was always in two minds about stop baths - mainly against. Used them for papers though...

As a final dip after washing, I used a stock solution made up of water, in about a 5 ltr bottle with a single drop of wetting agent. This was made up days in advance and allowed to settle until no froth was evident. Whether or not it helped is hard to say: you canīt process the same film twice. Also, importantly, the Glasgow water supply - my branch line of it anyway, was so soft that you could use it in the car battery instead of distilled water. That might well no longer be the case! Here, in Spain, the water is so hard that washing is almost tantamount to ensuring a deposit of scum on the dried film, another reason that discourages me from using film, though I did use distilled water for everything else in the process (in Spain).

All this might well have been an exercise in futility, but it was the best I could think of and seemed to work most of the time.

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2009, 05:46:31 PM »
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16 oz. bottles? Back when I was doing "wet" photography (before I went over to the Dark Side), I would buy the little 4-oz bottle of Photoflo 200 and use the cap to measure exactly as per instructions. Then one day at my neighborhood photo store I spied a ONE GALLON jug of Photoflo 600!!! It was cheap (this was back in the 1960's) so I bought the jug and used it to refill my 4-oz bottle as needed (diluting 1:2 to make the "600" stuff into usable "200".)

And guess what! I still have about a quarter of that jug left. So I guess Photoflo must be "archival": It never spoiled, got mildewy, or dried out out in over forty years. And it still works fine.

 
« Last Edit: June 10, 2009, 05:48:05 PM by EricM » Logged

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situgrrl
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2009, 06:02:17 PM »
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Probably 3.  

Mikeseb's suggestion (plenty of agitation) runs contrary to everything I've been taught though I've no reason to doubt it works for him - afterall, his photography is pretty hot!)  Similarly, Rob's presoak is alien to me.  I would be most interested to hear why you do this - and will settle for anything between reasoned science and superstition - fact is, sometimes, I get watermarks and they are a pain!

i don't have a spec sheet to hand but I believe photoflo recommended dilution is 1:1000 which I found awful.  Photo.net wisdom suggested 1:2000  and this works lots better.  I wash using the Ilford method and Brita filtered water for the first two washes.  My final wash is in DH20 and I mix photoflo 0.5ml (measured in an insulin syringe with the needle removed) into 1l or water.  I do this before I crack the films open so as it settles without bubbles.  Rather than mix it, I drop the photoflo into a tank and then add the water so that I don't create extra bubbles.

After washing, i dump the spool into the tank containing photoflo and spin it gently for a minute or so.  This doesn't cause bubbling which I understand to be bad.  I then hang the films and finger squeegee.  Sometimes I find a long streak on the film but never spots as when using more or no photoflo.  I polish these off gently with cotton gloves; I found chamois leather would scratch,
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mikeseb
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2009, 08:54:01 PM »
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[quote name='situgrrl' date='Jun 11 2009, 12:02 AM' post='290374']

@situgrrl, you do me honor! **blushing**

I agree, vigorous agitation is not the way to go, and I didn't make myself quite clear. I do my film in a Jobo, and once the processing is done I pop off the tank lid and add my drop or two of photo-flo, then fill the tank with water (10 micron filtered). I let it sit for a minute or two and then give the spool stem a few twists back and forth. It isn't anywhere near as vigorous as inversion agitation, and I've had no problem with bubbles or foam.

It certainly seems like the consensus is that following Kodak's dilution directions creates a PF solution that is far too concentrated. I figure if a "drop" has a milliliter or so, then I'm at about 1:250 to 1:500 dilution from the stock PhotoFlo.
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michael sebastian
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Denis K
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2009, 09:53:14 PM »
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By the way I left two options out, #5 and #10 which are given below.

5. I dip the very tip of a Q-Tip into the bottle and then swish it around in some water.

10. I've found that Photoflo goes real good with fried chicken.

I've been using option 5 above which I figure gives me about a half a drop or less per cycle.  The reason I asked everyone is that I really liked the original 4 oz. bottles.  I can't imagine how long a 16 oz. bottle would last me at half a drop per.  Just the thought of a full gallon gives me the willies.
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mikeseb
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2009, 10:04:37 PM »
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Quote from: Denis K
I've found that Photoflo goes real good with fried chicken.

One wonders, then, about chicken grease's utility as a wetting agent.

Emulsion-lickin' good, it is.
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2009, 09:13:07 AM »
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What PhotoFlo does is reduce the surface tension of water so when you hang to dry the small drops roll off instead of drying attached to your negatives and leaving marks behind. there is no need to agitate vigorously, just allow sufficient time and maybe a little motion for it to dilute. Agitation causes foam, which in turn causes marks again. Precisely what you are trying to avoid.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2009, 09:25:39 AM »
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Quote from: Denis K
Just the thought of a full gallon gives me the willies.

[attachment=14448:photoflo...1_094515.jpg]


 

My memory was incorrect. It's actually about 2/3 full now, so I have enough for at least another 80 years. When I'm 150 years old I'll offer what's left for sale on the LL Forum.

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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2009, 09:36:22 AM »
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Quote from: EricM
[attachment=14448:photoflo...1_094515.jpg]


 

My memory was incorrect. It's actually about 2/3 full now, so I have enough for at least another 80 years. When I'm 150 years old I'll offer what's left for sale on the LL Forum.



Iīll try and remember that, Eric, but things get lost in my mind already...

Rob C
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Denis K
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2009, 10:45:15 AM »
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Quote from: sergio
Precisely what you are trying to avoid.

I'm sorry, I just hate the new 16 oz. bottle size and wish I could find a place to buy the 4 oz. bottle of Photo-Flo 200.  I use so little and don't want a bigger bottle than I need.  I often carry it with me on extended trips and the small bottle worked out fine for me.  I know I could transfer some to a smaller bottle, but as a rule I like to store chemicals in well labled bottles.  I just want my 4 oz. bottle back.

BTW, I just found out that the 200 (or 600) in the name is the intended dilution ratio 1 part PF to 200 (or 600) parts of water.  I just never bothered to read the Kodak data sheet until a few minutes ago.  I see they also have a Photo-Flo 2100.  If I was using that formulation I would just take the cap off and just blow across the bottle top towards my rinse bath water.

Rob C: With my luck if I had your gallon jug (glass) I would drop it and have to clean up a gallon of Photo-Flow off the floor.  I wonder what I would use to clean that up - water?

Denis K
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2009, 04:29:28 AM »
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Quote from: Denis K
Rob C: With my luck if I had your gallon jug (glass) I would drop it and have to clean up a gallon of Photo-Flow off the floor.  I wonder what I would use to clean that up - water?

Denis K


Denis

Youīre not joking! In fact, thatīs partly a reason for my closing down the last darkroom. All my later pro work was transparency but I still liked b/w prints, so when we moved to Spain I built an office which provided office space along one wall and wet-bench possibilities along the other, plumbed and with an air-con unit fitted. (I hate air-con, as did my wife - it was only for that one room and the quest for 68 degrees F!)

In the event, water shortages made me avoid using it as did the inconvenience of putting up the light screens. Anyway, it got little use and we eventually put in fitted carpets. Then, I thought Iīd try again with prints. I realised on the first attempt that handling large containers of stop and fixer was not sensible after a heart attack - though covered with plastic sheeting, those carpets were silently screaming at me to wake up!

The enlarger etc. now grace a local school. At least, I think they do; the town council might just have been being kind to me and not wanting to embarrass a well-intending foreigner - perhaps the Durst has long vanished into oblivion!

Situggrl

The purpose of the pre-soak. This was intended to pre-wet the surface of the film and soften it very slightly in order to allow the developer quicker, and thus more even, access to all of the surface. The thought was that being as salt-free as possible, the water wouldnīt create local areas of resistance to the wetting of the film and thus, when the dev replaced the water, there would also be less chance of bubbles forming due to the viscosity of the thicker dev fluid causing resistance to an even surface flow by combining with the resistance provided by the film surface texture itself.

As it wasnīt easy to get inside the tank to see for myself, I took much of this on faith, and as alchemy was ever thus, I often added a wing and a prayer. In general, it seemed to work.

But, with 120 film, I was never able completely to avoid bubbles along one, single edge, try as I might and with, without pre-soak, with or without twiddle of spiral, twiddle of spiral and without inversion. Any way, 120 TXP always managed to screw up a few tiny fractions of the length of that square frame!

Rob C
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situgrrl
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2009, 04:48:09 AM »
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Rob - did you bang the tank really hard to dislodge them?  I'm guessing yes....but am about to start shooting 120 and have never had issues with 35mm (except the fear of cracking my tanks!)  How about filling the tank first and dropping the spirals into it?
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2009, 08:37:31 AM »
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Quote from: situgrrl
Rob - did you bang the tank really hard to dislodge them?  I'm guessing yes....but am about to start shooting 120 and have never had issues with 35mm (except the fear of cracking my tanks!)  How about filling the tank first and dropping the spirals into it?


I have Madison Time on the sound system right now, but even so, I know that there are some things definitely best done in the dark but loading spirals into small, full tanks of developer, is probably not one of them. Kodak 3-gallon ones perhaps - no, yes - done quite a bit of that in pre-historic times and for other people. I think that sheet film in hangers went in quite rapėdly, but rolls in spirals are something else, however you do it. The tight spacing conspires to thwart your best intentions. But donīt worry too much about it - we didnīt have PS in those days, and whatīs a little bubble between friends?

ĄBuena suerte!

Rob C

p.s. regarding the Madison: whatīs the birdland? A dance step named for a place? Futt Futt, any advice?
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2009, 10:25:42 AM »
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Rob,

I'm surprised you had bubble problems. I never had bubbles with either 35 or 120. I could never get even processing of sheet film using hangers in a tank, so I always did them in small bunches in trays.

One of these days maybe I'll clean the clutter out of my darkroom and make some Real Prints again.    

-Eric

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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2009, 01:12:40 PM »
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Quote from: EricM
Rob,

I'm surprised you had bubble problems. I never had bubbles with either 35 or 120. I could never get even processing of sheet film using hangers in a tank, so I always did them in small bunches in trays.

One of these days maybe I'll clean the clutter out of my darkroom and make some Real Prints again.    

-Eric




It was really odd, Eric, and happened only with 120 and TXP which was the only b/w film I used in that format. 35mm never created the problem which, considering all those sprocket holes, should have been the other way around! I used one of those Paterson tanks which takes three 35mm films or two 120s; perhaps other brands of tank would have been better, but starting to go through a range is all I needed on top of everything else! Also, in Britain, I donīt think I ever came across another brand for roll-film.

It seemed always to occur along the right-hand edge of the film, which means that I must have been pretty consistent in how I loaded those pesky spirals! Thinking about them now and how they sometimes jammed, with your career as hostage to sweaty fingers at that stage, I would suggest you leave your darkrom cluttered! But yes, there is a certain undeniable charm to the old ways and ultimate look of the work.

Today, whilst looking for something else (which I didnīt find, so itīs probably in an obvious place), I came across an old calendar page Iīd saved because I liked the shot; it was on Ektachrome 64 and via a 150 Sonnar on Hasselblad. Though cropped to 35mm shape, the larger area available struck me at once with its quality in print. Having no chance of finding the tranny any more, I feel a sense of sadness that so much of my early material went the way of the dodo - some deliberately when we moved abroad and some just of its own accord. Oh well, I probably wouldnīt have blown the dosh on a good 120 scanner anyway! On the other hand, I seem to have let so much of it slip through my fingers in other ways...

Rob C
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bill t.
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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2009, 03:05:42 PM »
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They still make Photo-Flo?  Really?  Do you still wipe the negative strips with two pincered-together fingers, slightly offset?  The biggest question in analog photography was always...how deep should you allow the scum at the bottom of the Photo-Flo tank to become before mixing fresh solution.
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2009, 04:11:43 PM »
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Quote from: bill t.
They still make Photo-Flo?  Really?  Do you still wipe the negative strips with two pincered-together fingers, slightly offset?  The biggest question in analog photography was always...how deep should you allow the scum at the bottom of the Photo-Flo tank to become before mixing fresh solution.



Definitely a philosophy peculiar to New Mexico; all that mescalin messes with your head, you know.

Rob C
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bill t.
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2009, 05:05:39 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Definitely a philosophy peculiar to New Mexico; all that mescalin messes with your head, you know.
For head messing we have moved on to Tecate & Dos-XX (that's doze ekees, an amber ale-like beverage although strictly speaking a lager).  Nothin' much else to do except count the tumbleweeds as they roll on by.
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