So, last week I did some Diafine developing since I had a stockpile of found films I needed to develop. I had a small amount of Diafine left over from this summer, but not enough to fill an entire Paterson tank, so I had to order some fresh Diafine from Freestyle. I mixed that up a day ahead of time, and then the next day went about my developing, combining both the old Diafine and the fresh.
A while ago I had gotten a hold of 3 old exposed Ansco Memo 35mm cartridges. I tried to develop one of the rolls in HC110b, but all I got was a bunch of fog and no images. I developed the other two rolls of Ansco Memo 35mm along with a roll of 127 Kodak Verichrome Pan in the same tank. Happily, when I took the film out of the tank, I could see images on all three rolls. I hung them up to dry and went along with the rest of the developing day.
Later on, I went to scan them in. The cartridges had notes written on them, indicating that the film was shot in 1949, so I was thrilled when I began scanning and the first images scanned in like this:
Yay! Epic old film WIN! Couldn’t ask for a better result than that. I continued scanning, and noticed that some of the images were starting to get a little weird.
It’s a lot lower contrast, and if you examine the picture closely, you can see the white outlined edges on the trees in the background and along the shoulders of the woman. And then I scanned in the picture at the top of this post and realized what was happening – the film had somehow solarized.
Bewildered, I kept scanning in images from the two rolls of Ansco Memo film.
And then I scanned in this:
Confused, I pulled the film out of the scanner to check it. And yes, this frame had somehow reversed itself altogether. Instead of having a negative image on the film, it was a positive, like a slide. Here it is scanned in as a positive image.
Weirdly, the entirety of both Memo rolls were like this. Frames either scanned in correctly as negatives, exhibited solarization, scanned in as positives, or, in some cases, had become a positive image with solarization.
There was no rhyme or reason to this at all. It didn’t seem to be caused by a light leak in the Memo cartridge or the Paterson tank – the different effects limited themselves to a frame, and didn’t bleed over into the sprocket holes or film between the frames. I scanned in one strip of five negatives, all pictures of the same subject. 4 pictures had reversed themselves to become positive images, and the fifth was a normal negative.
I have no idea what caused this. The other roll of film in the tank, the 127 Verichrome Pan from the 1960s, was unaffected by the solarization and reversal entirely.
So, okay. It was just something odd what that specific film, then. Weird, but okay. At least, that’s what I thought until I started scanning in the photos from my roll of 124 film that I shot in the big Brownie box camera. Here are the first two images on that roll, both scanned in as color negatives (since that helps cut through the fog).
As you can see, it happened again. The second image on the roll reversed itself, just like what happened with the Ansco Memo film. Here it is scanned in as a positive:
Three other pictures on that roll reversed themselves as well, becoming very low contrast positive images.
So, here’s another roll of old film, shot 60 some years after the Ansco Memo films, on an entirely different brand of film altogether, developed in a different batch, that gave me the same results. WTF?! The only thing I can think of that might help explain this whatsoever is that the two photos that came out with moderate to normal contrast on the roll of 124 film were the two pictures I shot using extended exposures. The other four photos I just used the regular instant setting on the box camera, and I don’t think that was long enough exposure to cut through the fog. So maybe only low contrast images were susceptible for reversal and solarization?
Anyway, the whole thing was bizarre, but kind of neat, too. It was one of those moments that made me really excited about shooting with film, because sometimes weird, unexplainable, unplanned things just happen, and I think that’s neat. I’ve since used the same batch of Diafine to develop more film (including some film from the same vintage as the ones that went weird on me), but everything has turned out normally. /shrugs