Problem reinserting darkslide after exposure : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

While taking some photos over the weekend with my 4x5, I made an exposure in the usual manner, but when I went to reinsert the darkslide into the holder, it only went in about 1/8 of an inch, then stopped. I knew immediately that the edge of the darkslide was caught up on the edge of the film. I tried at least 30 times to reinsert the darkslide past the film, but each time it got caught. I even went so far as to take the camera off the tripod, turn it upside down, and gently whack the rear standard in an attempt to reseat the film. The surrounding trees must have thought me to be a buffoon. That didn't work, either. I finally managed to jam the darkslide about 4/5 of the way into the holder, knowing that I pushed the film out of the holder. I finally removed the holder and back, only to find the film in the bellows. (You're right, I should have given up and simply remade the exposure, but if all my equipment witnesses a single sheet of film become insubordinate, then who knows what will happen? Animal Farm in my camera bag?)

Why did this happen? Is this a commom occurrence? This is the first time it has ever happened to me. The film and darkslide went in fine when I loaded the holder, and the darkslide came out without any problems when I made the exposure. The holder in question is a Fidelity Elite, in practically new condition. I'd like any advice on how to avoid this problem in the future, lest I become an occassional source of comic entertainment for the forest.

-- Dan Blair (, November 08, 1999


It sounds like (perhaps...) when the film was loaded one or both of the edges if the film were not under the groove(s). I can't imagine any other way a sheet of film could get out of the holder. Fumbling in the dark trying to load my first sheets of film, it's easy to "see" how this might happen.

-- Gary Frost (, November 08, 1999.

I have also experienced the same problem (and end up making a second exposure after the employment of some colorful language). The problem stems from how you load your film holder. You've got to be certain that the film slides in against the core of the holder. When it slides in incorrectly (say in the groove meant for the darkslide), you end up with the scenario you describe.

One trick I use to reduce this problem is to load the film into the holder then remove the darkslide (all this is done in a changing bag/tent), spray air on the film (get rid of dust), and then attempt to reinsert the darkslide. If it goes in without resistance, then all is well. If there is -any- resistance, I pull the slide back out, pull out the film sheet and start over again. With this system, I no longer encounter many problems of this sort.


-- Robert Ruderman (, November 08, 1999.

As I understand it, the way you know if all is well in loading, is that you should meet with no unusual resistance when either closing the flap on the open edge of the holder or pushing the slide back in after performing the first operation. If you have trouble closing the little flap (the flap may not feel flush with the rest of the holder's frame), there's a good chance that one edge of the film is not under the metal guide or the film isn't pushed in far enough. Depending on that, you may feel resistance the further you push the darkslide home. It's all designed to not let you make a mistake, but if you don't sense the resistance or refuse to heed the sensory warning and redo the last step when you do, you're apt to run into trouble. If it's any comfort, you're in good company. I don't know a single LF user that hasn't experienced some gremlin of this sort at one time or another. As far as the type of holder you're using goes, I've got a mix of old and newer Lisco and Fidelity holders, even a couple of Rightways. They all seem to let me know when I've screwed up and I find none more prone to this problem than any of the others. Don't worry, be happy! The forest is laughing with you, not at you.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, November 08, 1999.

The second culprit is making sure the film is fully in the holder and doesn't slide a bit and become forced into the flap. I always perform a double check of each holder loaded, using my index finger to make sure the film is in as far as possible. I've yet to have a problem. I use Toyo holders, and everything is done in a changing bag.

-- James Chow (, November 08, 1999.

My suggestions: I have switched to graflex grafmatic film holders, if you have never seen these, they hold 6 sheets on little metal trays and are about 3/4" thick, they save space, number your film and the dark slide does not come out, you "load" a sheet of film by "cocking" the dark slide, so when you are waiting to make an exposure or working on a long, drawn out exposure, everything is in its place. When I do use conventional film holders, I always worry about light leakage or losing the dark slide if I pull it all the way out, these grafmatics, although old, are nice to use, the only warning is that, because of their thickness they don't fit in all came

-- Seth Patterson (, November 08, 1999.

Dan, Next time, try re-inserting the dark slide at an angle, inserting one corner of the slide first into either side of the light-tight slot, and then straighten it up and slide it in the rest of the way. I imagine the middle of the film bowed outwards, causing the dark slide's leading edge to bump up against this bowed section in the middle. Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, November 09, 1999.

I know it "goes against the grain" to give up immediately and reshoot but trying to jockey the dark slide back in over film that is dislodged is going to scratch it anyway, so the best is to give up and make sure you get the shot. Many times it is because the film was not quite loaded appropriately, but sometimes it is because film's initial reaction to differences in humidity or temperature is to bow, and it would end up bowing outward. The bow catches the darkslide and is pulled out of its position, and nothing will reset it but dumb luck, once the dark slide has been hit against it a few times. I wait a little BEFORE exposure if the air in the holder is likely to be different than the air in the camera. What did you load in? Is it a warm, humid darkroom and you are shooting in a dry, cold climate? I have had bowing occur even DURING the exposure, because I was shooting inside a cold, damp seacost battery on a hot summer day and the film was was loaded in a darkroom and then transported to the site in the heat. I got sharp corners and concentrically more and more blurry centers. And I got a few sheets that caught on the dark slide. And sometimes even dampness on the sheet of film (humidity inside a damp room or in a cave) can cause the surface of the film to adhere to the dark slide as it is inserted. I always set up my shot, remove the dark slide slowly and busy myself with other things, after some time for the film to settle I shoot, and then carefully and slowly re-insert the dark slide. It works with all formats, even as large as 12x20.

-- Rob Tucher (, November 10, 1999.

I got condensation from doing that once...warm film and cold air. bummer.

I was about to suggest (some what sadistically) that if you wanted to have fun loading film (sarcasm) you should ("My suggestions: I have switched to graflex grafmatic film holders") try loading the antique and very delicate Graphmatic Back film sleeves. Thinner than potato chips and spring loaded.

My Suggestion: always have plenty of film, don't break your camera on the rocks trying to save 1 sheet...t

-- tom meyer (, November 16, 1999.

I used to assist studio photographers and loading and loading and loading film was one of the many grunt features of the job. To avoid that problem, which I have encounted, I altered my loading technique slightly. I pull the dark slide out of the holder a little less than two inches. This seem to insure the film is guided into the proper slots,rather than getting confused in the darkslide groves. So far in the last fifteen years I've not encounterd that troublesome darkslide problem. hopes this helps. I use Fidelity Elite holders.

-- Richard Hill (, November 21, 1999.

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