A few months ago I purchased two more second hand Watson 100 bulk film loaders from a local who worked as a photography lab technician through to the 1990s. Both contained remnants of colour film: the first was unknown and gave no results in testing. However, this was the first test on the second roll – Vericolor ii that had been bulk loaded in 1987.
I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for this Vericolor ii because it always seems these old films have become fogged over the years through ambient temperature or direct exposure. It only takes one curious teenager to unscrew the bulk loader and the film gets ruined.
For this first test I shot 20 frames of the Vericolor ii through my Nikon F2A Photomic at ASA 100. I employed a developing solution of 1+99 Rodinal at 18 Celcius for 2 hours with six rotations at the beginning and three rotations every intervening 30 minutes. Yes, cross-processing in black and white chemistry.
The results were encouraging but I have to admit that I pulled the entire film off the developing spool at the beginning of the rinse because it appeared to be blank. Only, when I held it straight up at the bathroom light I could see the pictures and frames. So I plonked them back into the rinse and then hung them in the drying cabinet until the following day.
In the morning I had Lindy help me cut the frames over a light bulb. It was the only way to cut on the correct lines. Then I scanned them into my Epson V600 – they appeared to be blank white frames. My heart sank just a little bit.
Software to the rescue. I retrieved the images in Photoshop by pushing the curves and layers and then using a multiply layer to increase the darkness. So images were there… even if they were extremely light images and heavily grained.
I need to conduct at least 2 more tests on this film. I intend to shoot a small roll at ASA 6 and develop it in 1+99 Rodinal at 18 Celcius for 2 hours. And I’ll shoot another small roll at ASA 100 amd develop in 1+24 Rodinal at 18 Celcius for 2 hours (four times the current developing solution’s strength). As the years rolled past, this film sat inside the Watson 100 bulk film loader at room temperature. The result would mean the film slowed down and my tests are about trying to improve on the current results.
There is a certain amount of excitement in shooting and processing unknown test film but the fogged one’s have taken a toll on my optimism. This Vericolor ii from 1987 is the only one that has given me pictures, of three film rolls that I’ve found in four second-hand bulk loaders. It would be nice, with the small amount left inside the loader, to resurrect at least a couple of decent 24 exposure film cassettes through my Nikon F2A Photomic before the Vericolor ii disappears back into history.