Skip Bleach Pull Test

Sometimes, mistakes make for great outcomes… 

I loaded this roll of Homelife 200 into the Olympus XA early one morning, all spur-of-the-moment like. I had film in another camera (and that I’ll share late next week, God willing), and was on my way out the door but something told me to grab a roll of film and get the XA rolling, so I did.

In my haste, though, I left the ISO set to 50… Gah. I realized it about frame 8 and decided to roll with it. After all, I’ve pulled C-41 before with little difficulty, and it’s the Homelife 200 (thanks to dexter, I now know the film inside is Konica Minolta VX200 Super, not that it makes much difference, and, by the way, the price at the FPP has gone up: at time of writing it’s $14.99 for 4 rolls, up from $7.99 a few months ago—they’re probably running low on stock). Since it was potentially ruined anyway, and since it was time to refresh my C-41 chemicals I thought I’d try my hand at bleach bypass… I read some about it a few months back and was determined to give it a shot the next time I updated chemicals. Reports differ, but it many people use a bit of old, expired or diluted blix to help clear the negatives a bit, so my plan was to dilute my old blix and see what happened…

Short answer: I’m excited! But read on…

If you’ve forgotten (or need a refresher), pulling C-41 is simply a matter of decreasing the development time. For one stop, you take 50 seconds off of the development time (2:40 instead of 3:30), with normal agitation, blix, and stabilize steps. For bleach bypass, you need to go a bit further. My test isn’t a pure bypass of the bleach, but the blix I used was old and heavily diluted, so I think it’s probably close.

Here’s my process for this test:

  • soak in hot water for 2 minutes
  • develop for 2:40, with 4 inversions every 30 seconds*
  • 1 part blix mixed with 3 parts hot tap water, soak for 1 minute with no agitation
  • continuous wash for 30 seconds
  • fix in hot fixer (~102F) for 6 minutes, with 4 inversions every minute
  • continuous wash for 6 minutes
  • stabilize for 1 minute
  • photoflo for 1 minute

I got some strange, uneven staining, and so when I try this again, God willing, I’ll agitate at the diluted blix stage and fix for another minute or two. More on that below.

As expected, the negatives came out rather dense, but were easy enough to scan…

I “scanned” the negatives at ISO200, 1/15th and f/4, 3 stops over my usual for color negative film (ISO100, 1/30th at f/5.6 is my usual time), and they all needed another stop and a half in post.

Compare the shots here with stuff from other rolls of Homelife I’ve shared. The yellow/brown cast in the Homelife is gone, the saturation is muted, the contrast is raised a bit, and overall, I’m really, really excited by this, and I’m very much looking forward to trying again in the future.

I want to call out a couple of things, maybe you can help me with. I already noted the orange staining. I find it interesting that the staining is localized mostly to the edges of the frames. It matches up with the sprocket holes from one edge, but it’s not the mark of over-agitation.

I expect this is at least partly something in the film already. I’m not sure what it is, but there are some indications of similar staining in a couple of pictures from previous rolls: one from Winterizing the Veggies in early October where the stain is on the right edge, and another from the Pleasant Walk we took in the next week, where it shows up on the left.

Any idea what that is, what’s going on there?

I also got some uneven development or something in one shot. These might be reflections in the window, but there appears to be some unevenness in the bottom half that matches the slight blotch in the upper part.

I didn’t see anything like this in other frames, so it’s probably something with the film.

So. Some of the outcome could be due to the 2 stop overexposure and pull processing, but I think the partial bleach step did something, and I’m very exited to play around some more, next time, God willing, with proper exposure, and maybe some bracketing just to make sure, and I think I’ll try both with agitation in the diluted blix step, and another time with completely skipped bleach.

I’m looking forward to some experimentation in the near future, and, again, I’m more excited by this bleach bypass test than I’ve been by anything in a little while.

*This was roll 25 in this batch of Tetanol, and the developer was the color of Root Beer. I expect I pulled an additional 1/4 to 1/2 a stop by using the standard pull time. Since the developer was nearing its end of life, I’ve increased the time by 30, 45, and 60 seconds for the last 3 sessions.

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