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Getting it wrong sometimes works!

by Colin Doeg

Reproduced from in focus 12 (Oct. 1985)

There is often a story behind many underwater pictures, and Colin Doeg's front cover shot, taken at the first European Underwater Hockey Championhips (which Britain, incidentally swept the boards in both the men's and ladies events) is no exception.

Because he was using different equipment for the first time for his shots, Colin went to the event early and took two rolls of film to use as test shots. Dashing home he decided to give the Tri-X extended development in ID11. lHe checked the temperature of the developer with a trusty dial thermometer. The needle was at 26° C and it stayed at that when he put the instrument in the solution. Undaunted, Colin poured the developer in and began to deduct a minute for every degree the solution was over 20°C. He was just happy the process was taking less time than usual.

Colin Doeg's front cover shot, taken at the first European Underwater Hockey Championhips

The negs looked OK, so Colin went back to Crystal Palace swimming pool to shoot two more rolls. That night, tired and still cold from staying almost motionless for long periods in the water, he loaded his films into the tank. Then he mixed more developer and stuck the thermometer in. It read 26°C. Slowly the thought struck him that the reading was strange because there was a chill in the night air.

He checked the room thermometer. It was way below 26°C. Then he put the dial thermometer into both cold and hot water. The needle never moved! Hurriedly he checked the solution with a certified model and found it way below 20°C. Panic: So he remixed the chemicals with hotter water and gave the film the additional development he had intended.

Ironically, the front cover shot came from the first batch of film. he is still wondering just what processing he really gave it! But the moral to this tale, of course, is that you should never take anything for granted. So don't forget to check your thermometer now and again with another perhaps even more reliable one.

Reproduced from in focus 12 Oct. 1985 with kind permission of Colin Doeg.

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