I had a better film day yesterday. I modified my process starting with rewinding the film in the camera. Rather than wind it all the way back in, I carefully wound it so as to leave the leader exposed.
This allowed me to trim the end off in between sprockets as opposed to potentially mid-sprocket. If you cut mid-sprocket it seems to slightly increase the possibility of a jam when loading onto the reel. I was also able to carefully round off the corners. I have never had this issue before but after the debacle last time out I was taking precautions.
This method also gave me a little more real estate in my cramped change bag. I could leave the pliers out of the equation since the canister did not need to be popped open. Even better, if I experienced a jam this time I could simply wind the film back into the canister and assess the situation. Turns out that was not necessary.
One positive aspect of messing up half a roll of film is that you now have a practice roll. I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with this specific reel outside the change bag (first with eyes open and then closed).
I did notice a few idiosyncracies that could be neutralized with practice. A few laps of practice got the muscle memory sorted.
After that all went smoothly. Process times were bang on (no pushing or pulling on this roll), chemicals were mixed properly. Picture perfect. Right up until I was cutting the negative to insert it into the sleeves. Then I dropped it on the carpet. And my dad has a dog. You can figure out the rest.
If I don’t get it right next time I’ll need the number of that truck driving school we saw on TV. Truck Masters I think it was.
Oh and PS- I will deal with the watermarks next.