From Failure to Success

Ferns in the back garden – Fuji GSW690III

I processed 3 roll films this weekend, 2x 120 and 1x 127, and tested my patience beyond it’s limits! I’ll explain – readers who have been reading since the start of this blog will know that I have been processing film for more than 40 years. I would never claim to be an expert at it, but I have long achieved what I would consider, good consistent results. I’ve tried many emulsions, many developers, but have settled on a regular set, and get what are to me, good results. The above photo was taken on Sunday and processed in the kitchen the same day, FP4 120 in the Fuji GSW690III, and processed in Ilfosol3 1+9 my usual mix, and I’m pleased with the results….

What I CANNOT do without drama is load the damn film onto the reel in 120 format! Over the years I have spoken with people for tips, read every tip on the internet. I’ve tried Paterson tanks/reels, metal tanks and reels, so called self load reels, reels I’ve dried to Atacama desert dryness, brand new reels, old reels, you name it, I’ve tried it – it’s always a drama, and after much stress and swearing, I finally got (most) of the film on the reel!

At this point I was in a bad mood and proceeded to develop in a rather poor frame of mind – not giving any care what so ever and being vary sloppy with times and temperatures etc, the results in development – possibly some of the best negs I’ve made! Yes there were some crease marks on the film, quite a few but somehow most seemed to fall in the gaps between exposures and not quite make the image area. For the second roll this was not surprising as there were some large gaps (more about that on another post soon!) I also developed a 127 film, a first for me, and that was a total fail, but not un-expectedly, again more on that on a later post.

So I have come to a personal decision which is that I am not going to give up on 120, I’m just going to send it to a lab! I’ll do 35mm which I, and my blood pressure can cope with ease! After all that – I’m still pleased with the photograph above, so I even made a print!

7 thoughts on “From Failure to Success

  1. I have had similar problems.
    What solved my loading 120 film was: 1. avoid metal reels.
    2. do not allow any wetting agent for final rinse anywhere near the reel.
    clip the corners of the film (just the sharp edge) both 35mm & 6×6 then they will just push in.
    3. make sure the reel is clean and dry, I use a weak solution of bleach and then rinse & dry.
    4. Let the backing paper roll back as you feed film into reel, don’t bother removing first, otherwise film will curl.

    If all this fails, use harsh words and p


    1. Hello David – hope you are keeping well? Thanks for the tips! I think I’ve tried all of them, especially the harsh words! Strangely I don’t ever recall trimming the corners a little, not sure why I didn’t think of that! I might give 120 one more shot at home – and will report back. All best wishes, Andy


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