This is my first roll of Tri-X 400, developed with D76 using Massive Dev's chart in this order:

  • developer
  • stop bath (tap water)
  • fixer
  • tap water (quick 1 minute wash)
  • Photo Flo (2 minutes)
  • tap water (final wash, 11 minutes)

then off to the scanner the next day (V500 flatbed) for scanning.

There are some weird effects going on however in most of the frames, as well as the usual pixelated look I've grown accustomed to with flatbed scanning 35mm.

I've highlighted the spots in the photos below:



I am wondering what this is and how I can fix it. Using distilled water maybe?

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful if you could find a title which describes what makes this question unique, rather than one which notes that it isn't. :) That will make it easier in the future when people come across it in a search — and will probably help you get better answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 24, 2018 at 15:16
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Darn, I thought this question was going to be about Sasquatch. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2018 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure it isn't lens flare and smoke? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @rackandboneman A possibility, but highly unlikely when shooting on an overcast day in the opposite direction of the sun, and with an entire roll of film to boot. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


You have two problems.

The one you've noticed is water spots remaining on the negatives when the film has been hung to dry.

Re-washing and drying may help. It may not remedy the problem if the emulsion side of the film is affected.

After the fixer bath, wash longer than you have been to get rid of ALL the fixer that has been absorbed by the emulsion. Always strive to keep all the liquids at the same temperature to avoid stressing the emulsion which has absorbed the processing solutions. The swollen emulsion is fragile.

Instead of plain water, a 30 second acid stop bath accomplishes three things: The change in pH from base to acid will put the breaks on the developer almost immediately to ensure correct development times. It will help to preserve the fixer from being diluted by the residual high pH carried into the fix from the developer. AND the change in pH will help compress the swollen emulsion to "squeeze" more of the developer out of the emulsion faster than plain water.

Washing longer allows all the fixer to migrate from inside the emulsion into the wash water. This takes time. 20 to 30 minutes is minimal. Archival wash is more like an hour unless you use Hypo (fixer) Eliminator. Ensure the wash water temperature is the same as your other solutions (20°C - 68°F optimal) and does not fluctuate. A quick dip into diluted (according to instructions - more is not better) wetting agent will lessen the possibility for drops to form on the film surface. Wash a minute or two more to remove the wetting agent and you can hang the film in a clean, dust free place to dry.

(By the way, the water spot on the first image is very much like those you find on negatives that have had insufficient washing. The tiny white spots in the larger one is a symptom I've seen before with short washes.)

Remember that the chemicals work in the emulsion not only on the surface of it.

Your second problem is the scratches on the film emulsion from squeegee-ing the film to get rid of the water.

Either let the film hang freely to let the water drain off it or make damn sure that your fingers, chamois, or blade is absolutely and perfectly clean, minimally moist, and lightly applied or the damage will be permanent and difficult to remove. (The eye can spot an unwanted scratch line faster than any other pattern I can think of right now.)

One more thing™ The total time in the fixer should be "twice the time the film takes to clear." This "time" can be determined experimentally by immersing an unprocessed chip of film in the fixer and carefully time how long it takes to become transparent. Double this time is the correct length of time for the fixer bath. Longer than this time is not necessary or helpful.

Good Luck

  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't mention squeegee-ing the film; I let the film hang dry in a closet, I don't touch the negatives after developing. I've been following the massive dev developing guides in the app for the film stock I'm using and have had much better luck with Kentmere 400, so I'm weary to deviate from those times, but I will definitely try a much longer final wash period with filtered water and possibly an acid bath for stopping instead of H20. Thank you \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2018 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @star_trac Have a close look at the film path and at the position of the longitudinal scratches. Perhaps there was something in the cassette light lock fabric or film pressure plate. Check to see if the position changes. At any rate, make sure the film chamber is clear of anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Nov 25, 2018 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @star_trac Increasing your wash time will do no harm. If you do not completely rid the emulsion of K- or Na- thiosulphate fixer, the silver will react and slowly become a silver sulphide which will slowly fade whereas metallic silver is much more stable. Occasionally you'll see elderly prints that have "blacks" that appear mottled, brown and beige—that's what's happened. The same thing happens to film too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Nov 25, 2018 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those scratch lines are very close to being perfectly aligned with one pixel row. Certainly possible if they are very nearly parallel to the film edge and the negatives are almost perfectly aligned in the scanner (a V500 would employ a film holder presumably), but I'm wondering if it could be a scanning issue? \$\endgroup\$
    – G_H
    Nov 28, 2018 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @G_H good call. after looking through some other scanned negatives I've realized that my XA camera is causing this issue. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 15:27

A short final wash in distilled water with a wetting agent is always a good practice. Consider Ilford Ilfotol or Tetenal Mirasol or something of the like.

Distilled water in development and fixing is not as crucial as in the final wash - unless your tap water is especially hard it should have little effect. The D76 by Kodak is a tolerant soup (if you mix your own, which is very exciting but perhaps not ideal for starters, it would be a different matter).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If distilled water is not readily accessible, filtered deionized water (water run through water "softener" and reverse osmosis filter) should be okay. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Nov 24, 2018 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did mix my own D76 with tap water. Being just downstream of the rockies, our water is pretty hard. Next time I will use distilled water in the final wash and with the Photo Flo, and use the Photo Flo very last in the process. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2018 at 19:41

Most probably they are just calcium deposits from the (hard) water you used in the wash cycle when developing the negatives.

  1. You can use distilled water, you can get it by using on your inserting a filtering equipment that use carbon filters and a descaling agent on your tap water, it will pay itself for if you plan to develop regularly, but if you simply only plan to develop occasionally you will better off buying distilled water (i.e. low mineralization drinkable water from your grocery store, the cheap one) by the gallon.
  2. Using a wetting agent will help in the meantime, but be aware they don’t usually have a descaling agent, they are usually made of soap that doesn’t have the additives used in current soap formulations to artificially create bubbles. If you have a “good water source” it’ll only help to reduce the wash time... even if most of them claim to have anti static properties, if you let your film hang to dry in a place with airborne dust you will get dust on the negative no matter if you use wetting agent or not.

There are no magic formulas but some common sense... many film developers have built their own rituals that make them feel better but most of them aren’t scientifically based.

  • \$\begingroup\$ yessir, I've been using a wetting agent called Photo Flo. how I use it may be the difference here, I'm reading now that it helps to use the wetting agent after the final wash and to not agitate, but just let it sit. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ You usually use diluted in water as a final rinse before hanging the negative to dry. You don’t need to agitate the container or the film much and you don’t use when the water is still running. You dilute it into water and pour the water on the container after you poured the water left from washing the film, and slightly agitate just to get it to all the film. \$\endgroup\$
    – abetancort
    Dec 1, 2018 at 1:03

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