If you are struggling to load your MOD 54, read this

At this very moment you have your hands deep in a dark bag trying to load your 4x5 negatives. You've called a nearby family member to Google 'load a mod 54' for you because you've forgotten the details of what it looks like and things aren't going well. 

Don't panic. It is going to be alright.

  1. First things first - locate the ridges at the top of the MOD 54. The ridges on the negatives must be on the same side on the top left (note that this is different from the location of the ridges when placing them in a film holder, which is top right in that case).
  2. Get your first sheet of film in your hands. Bend it along its length and place it to the very bottom of the stack before releasing the bend. Check with your fingertips that the film isn't held up in one of the upper notches.
  3. Your breathing should be easier now and your heart rate lower. We are going to make it.
  4. The easiest notch to locate is the upper one, so here is the secret tip - load the second sheet into the upper notch. "That's crazy!" you say - but keep your trousers and/or pants on. From here you can carefully move the film down to the middle notch one side at a time. You know you've done a good job when you feel the sides of  two sheets of film are parallel.
  5. The third sheet of film goes into the easy upper notch and can be left there. Again, check the sides of the sheets are parallel. If they are not, work backwards until you find the offending sheet/notch combination.
  6. Repeat these steps for the three sheets on the other side of the Mod 54.

Hopefully you got this done before the combination of stress and time made your arms perspire streams of frustration in the dark bag.