My film was X-rayed and I used it anyway

Online wisdom says, while airport security x-rays do minimal damage to film in hand luggage, checked bags get a larger dose of radiation that can be fatal for the film. Is this true?

On a return trip from the UK, my hand luggage was deemed it was too heavy by the staff. I repacked in haste. I realized I'd made a  mistake as our plane left the ground - I had put the film in the checked bag.

I was using HP5 which is a 400 speed black and white film. They were developed at home the usual way (read about my developing method here). The images are slightly lower contrast than usual, which might have made it more difficult to print in the traditional film days. But by scanning film we can easily salvage the negatives with software. They look as good as any other roll. 


Sowerby Bridge canal, Halifax. Hasselblad 500cm, Ilford HP5.

Sowerby Bridge canal, Halifax. Hasselblad 500cm, Ilford HP5.

Heartbreak of chewed-up film

During a weekend to the Hill Country, Texas, I shot a roll of 120 HP5 using a Hasselblad 500cm and a 16 magazine. A tree reflected in the river. A long flight of stone stairs. Portraits of friends. The roll was slightly harder to wind than usual, and I thought nothing of it at the time. But once I'd finished the roll and I thought I had re-wound it, I found I couldn't remove the insert form the magazine.

I investigated in the safety of a dark-bag. It took brute force to remove the insert and i found the film tightly folded on the inside.  I developed it (loose, as it wouldn't load onto the developing reel) and found all the exposures were layered on the first frame. The backing paper was neatly wound on the receiving spool.

This is an unsettling problem. Usually, if I make a technical error, I have myself to blame and I learn from the mistake. But this time, it seems to be a manufacturing anomaly - either the tape wasn't holding the film to the backing paper, or the initial winding separated them.

I kept the negatives as a reminder that if something feels wrong through the camera, it should not be ignored.