01 September 2011


So, recently I've been completely obsessed with home developing.  More specifically:  chemical free home developing.  I found a solid caffenol site and worked on a recipe.  The first few tries were recorded in a notebook I've dubbed my Photography Notes notebook (where I will be noting everything I need to note photographically) like a mad scientist perfecting an experiment.  Well, that's what I was doing, really.

The Experiment

The first test roll was literally a full 36 exposure roll of Kodak Tri-X shot in the Recesky TLR.  That was a huge mistake.  Whole roll ended up completely overdeveloped.  But, the Recesky is also pretty fixed by way of apeture and shutter speed.  So, it could have been a bit under exposed too... we'll never know.  What we do know was that it was a failure.  But, I learn from my mistakes.

Next test was done with another roll of Tri-X shot in the Mamiya 500dtl.  Shot one pictre, same lighting and camera settings, 36 times.  Pulled one revolution in the tank spool from the roll and dev'd that.  This time I didn't make enough developer.  So, only half the negative was developed.  However, that section didn't look overdeveloped.  It was really thin, stainwise.  So, I adjusted for a third try.

The third Tri-X try was a success.  But, the image was... flat, I guess.  There wasn't much by way of midtones or shadow detail.  Afterward I did a little more research on specifically Tri-X in caffenol.  I found that there was a certain chemical missing that was required for the Tri-X emulsion blend.  Over the counter I would be ordering a dog sedative from Europe.  I said, "no thanks," and went back to the drawing board.

At this point I did more reading and found that Fomapan 100 was supposed to be an ideal film to use with this concoction.  So, I ordered a bulk loader and two 100' bulk rolls of Foma100 (the rolls were stupid cheap, 2 seemed right).  And that's when the magic happened.

Rolled out a 10 shot roll and loaded the 500.  First attempt wasn't bad, just needed some tweaking.  Adjusted the recipe and added a little time and this is what I got:

It's still a little foggy, but it has a definite texture/feel to it.  I'm really happy with these results, I think.

So happy, in fact I decided to gamble and run a roll through my Zorki 1 and develop it using the same recipe as the successful attempt.  Thus far it looks pretty promising.  It's hanging to dry in the bathroom as I type this.  Will scan in the morning and see if it will be feasible to run a roll tomorrow. 

Anywho, mostly I'm just running the materials for this little endeavor out as I've ordered some proper HC-110.  It's really cheap, at least as cheap as if not cheaper than the caffenol.  And, it's supposed to be more environmentally friendly than other developers.  So, that makes me feel a little better.   All in all, rolling my own rolls and developing my own film is going to cut my photography costs significantly.  Too bad I can't develop slide film as easily.  I've just gotten hooked on those gorgeous color shifts.

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