segunda-feira, 23 de abril de 2012

First Caffenol Negatives - Full Developing Report

So here we are again after a couple weeks without anything great. Caffenol Carioca presents its first results: overdeveloped negatives, but alas, it's experimental after all and was indeed the first time...

Practice makes perfect.

As I said before, the idea here is to use the common household kitchen stuff to obtain a Green Developer and Fixer. Stuff that won't kill your baby, burn your skin, make you blind, intoxicate you and your dog, things you can leave around the house not caring to leave a skull sticker on to warn people they are at risk ingesting or handling it. AND THAT'S GREAT STUFF, innit!
For years what actually prevented me from developing my own negatives at home was the chemistry involved. Not-any-more.

As I told you guys my journey started with my grandad's old Rollei. Then I went online, researched, read a lot, watched videos on youtube, bought some basic stuff and made a friend. It's worth mentioning him because he was the guy who actually made sense of the "green fixer"; and although the substance involved has been well known to 'kinda fix okay' for the whole existance of Photography a quick search online will show you that the results were - in the least - less than satisfactory and short lived. Sea Salt as a fixer simply did not work and ALL THE WORLD was out there to make sure you got that or be treated as a fool to believe otherwise.
Even then, a few fools with a fixed (sorry, pun) idea in their heads would still try it. As of today, we are four people (04). And it works. Just follow the recipe I'll explain later. But this subjetc will deserve more than one post. Don't worry
BTW this friend is Henrique Souza, or by the nickname Cronocrator on Flickr, and his blog is at the address -  Please check and contribute to his work.


Starting with my recipe, which turned out to be too strong I reckon now:

But first, nomenclature:
tsp = teaspoon (circa 5g / ml)
tbs = tablespoon (3 tsp)


The developing thank volume is of about 500ml. Less actually. You can't fit 500ml. Consider your proportions accordingly, ok. But most important of all, even if you don't have exactly what the other guys have been using, it's ok as long as you use the same measures for all you work. In a different way to put it, if ou can't measure in ml do in ounces, or liters but then ALWAYS stick to the same measures so you WON'T mix different scales. I bought a general kitchen measuring beaker and will do the whole process using it. Simple as that.


2 tbs of cheap (caffenated!!!) instant coffee
4 tsp of washing soda
2 Vit-C Redoxon 1000mg tablets


1] dissolved the coffee and the soda in different recipients. MIND the 500ml maximum volume of your tank (your tank might take more than that so just find out how much it takes before you start the process - add water to it and measure how much it took):

-          Add 250ml to a container then add the 2 tbs of coffee. Mix until it all dissolves.
-          Add 200ml and the 4tsp of Soda to another recipient or in the measuring beaker/cup itself. You don't need a hundred plastic pots to do this. Two will do just fine. Mix and break any hard crystals. It should dilute 100% . It will look like regular water (yep, don't get confuse and drink it....)
-          Add to Redoxon and allow it to completely dilute. Make sure it does!

2]         Mix all three together and make sure to mix well.
3]          Add the mixture inside your tank (preferably with the film already in the reel inside, a' course!)

You don't have to do this in the dark. Actually, after doing the film-reel-tank hedious game all the developing process takes place in the light. Watch tv!


I did 20 min. MISTAKE. The recipe is too strong. I suppose 7 to 12 min tops will bring better results.
Overdeveloping make the negatives DENSE - that is, too DARK. You'll see in my results what does that mean.
Try and get the temperature around 20 degrees Celsius. Too warm and it overdevelops too. I did it at about 30 C.... And easy way to do it is to use some cooled water to do the mixin.
Attention: add the cool water after you mixed the soda. I found out that the soda in cool water becomes big rocks too hard to dilute!! I ha to add hot water to dissolve it.

           The caffenol mixture must be used within 30min's time. 

CAVEAT: The Vit-C tablets are messy. They foam up and make a good froth. Just like draught beer but not as tasty! By messy I really mean messy, spilling black smudge all over. So be sure to add those two in the recipient with the highest side you have. I was told that adding soda to it cancelled the spilling over....never tried. Vit-C reduces the time of development by a half and reduces fog and stains. But the tablets are not 100% pure Vit-C and then you have a few issues form its use....

As I said, this recipe works fine but is rather strong. I'm presenting what I've done here, but my next batch will suffer adjustments such as: no more Redoxon (Cronocrator's tip), 1 tbs + 1 tsp Coffee and 4 tbs of soda. Do at your own risk or simple go online and try one of the bomb-proof recipes the guys post online at

I'm all about experimenting. Besides, my film is not the same as theirs!


Time to add some photos, as promissed.

First, a gentle advice given me by Cronocrator. Wash you film before starting. Add cool water from the tap to the tank, put it down the drain. Repeat. It gets the negatives moisturised before starting the developing process preventing the developer to stain the film and washing away the die from the film (purple or blue die, depending on the film maker)

I usually prepare the Salt Fixer before (since the caffenol is only good for 30min!) But that is a new post......

Kitchen measuring beaker with about 500ml water:

2 Coffee tbs and Redoxon before adding to coffee mix (illustration of the tablets):

Adding 250ml water to coffee and the Vit-C later: 250ml
Just placed  the 250mln water in the coffee cup then vit-c,

Result of using a short cup for the Vit-C mix....Mistake made once only! It was worse than the picture shows...
Should have used the measure cup and not the short cup...

Mixing the Soda to have the complete Caffenol mix. I did both mixtures before adding water to them. Adding water was the last part, except for the Vit-C which was added to the coffee-water mix already done:

Water for the soda mix: 200ml

4 tsp of soda

Mixing soda and water:

Mixing all together now - coffe + vit-c & Soda: you don't need the funel!

Final solution of CAFFENOL ready to use (oh yeah, it's caffenol done there!):

NEXT Step, adding the Caffenol-C mix to the Developing Tank:

amount left in the measure cup (tank fits only less that the full 500ml)

DEVELOPING Time and Do's:

Nice. Once you have added your Caffenol to your tank the process takes from 7 to 15 min depending on your recipe and if you have Vit-C. Solutions without Vit-C take longer, like 30min. You'll have to gently shake the tank, mix the caffenol inside it so the developing solution affects the whole of the film, leaving no imperfections or stains.
If you shake too much or too hard you'll get too much GRAIN and overdevelop. So you will move the tank gently every 30 sec. for the first 5 min or so. Just turn it one side to the other, up and down around its axis. This is called semi-stand. Then let it do it's trick. Wait a few minutes and turn a bit more. If you turn too much you'll get a lot of grain.

Drop the caffenol down the sink and begin the stop and washing bath:

change the water a few times to make sure you washed it really well and no caffenol is still on the film

Last thing: wash the negs still in the tank with a bit of dishwashing prevents water stains to build on your nice negs!

DONE. Now you have to FIX your negatives if you want them to survive light.

Now a few scanned pictures of the results.

I had a really difficult time using a (two different ones actually) table scanner so I decided to try something I saw on youtube - using my digital camera to 'scan' the negatives. It works.
I jerrybuilt a system far from perfect but as you'll see I am now able to show the resulting negs and somewhat correct them on the PC.
You'll need:
- digicam with manual focus or able to focus from very close distance (macro mode)
- lamp
- one completely white sheet of paper or glass/plastic (much better than paper actually, I'll get one myself)
- a tripod is great if you have one.

The results came out fairly crooked because I shot the cam at an angle (the camera wasn't at 90º angle to the neg, but rather about 60º. That said, my scans lost quality and....the light wasn't even onto all parts of the neg. Still, I'm happy to have SOME results to show. It's all about home-made, green, experimental Caffenol, right!?

Poor man's scanning system: Get a side table lamp (white light is better than yellow), place the sheet of paper onto it (won't start a fire, ok), place the negative onto the white sheet of paper (you might need to cut the negs separately) then focus your camera and take a pic. Bob's our uncle.

I shall first show the negatives the way they came out of the camera (duely cropped out of the frame sheet-of-paper-lamp, then I'll show some quick fixes obtained on GIMP:
Camera used - Canon S5 IS 8MP

As you can see the edges (numbers and ID of the film) are well fixed and look good - proving the negs were indeed developed correctly - in short, the developing process worked as it should!

Now the tweaked negs in GIMP: Invert + Dessaturate. Don't know if the order matter though...
I used the shadow brush on a few.



2 comentários:

  1. The images you presents here convinces me that I shall NEVER follow your recipe.

  2. LOL thanks Trond (or hfandrep :) !
    I admitted it is too strong. It needs some softening. The images were not correctly scanned, you certainly read it? They are much better than they look.

    Please feel free to advise changes/recipes.