If you’re in the blizzard zone and stuck home this weekend, I hope this will give you extra reading material 🙂
I’ve been developing film for quite a few years and although I don’t consider myself an expert at all, I’m familiar with traditional developers such as Rodinal, D76, T-Max, HC-110, etc, etc.
One developer that I’ve heard about, but never tried till recently was a home brew called “Caffenol.”
This is a process where you use instant coffee, washing soda, and vitamin C powder to concoct a mix that actually develops film.
When I first heard about this years back, I laughed it off thinking it was a big joke. When I investigated further, I was totally shocked that you can develop film with instant coffee!
The photo above is a result of my first Caffenol experiment. Now I know it’s far from an award winning result, probably not the kind of result anyone wants, but to be honest with you, I’m just thrilled that it worked! 🙂
Above is a 100 percent crop of the original scan. I adjusted the contrast levels to better show the details. I was quite amazed that the result, while messy, actually holds a lot of details!
The image was shot in 2015 with a Mamiya C330 and a banged up Mamiya 65mm f/3.5 lens that I got for $23. The film was Kodak Tri-X 400 which is my go-to for an easy to develop, classic film.
If you search the web, you will find many fine examples from Caffenol connoisseurs who have posted results much better than this.
As I said, I’m no expert at this. The hardest part is finding “washing soda” so I made it myself by heating up baking soda, not certain whether I did everything right. Also in the darkroom, I made the mistake of turning on the lights when I didn’t have cover on the tank with film in it, allowing for possible light contamination. Something I’d never done in all the years that I’ve developed film. Because of these issues, I was even more amazed that it actually gave me something at all!
I am now eager to experiment more and to perfect this process. However, that would mean I would have to waste a lot of rolls of precious memories so I have to be sure that each roll I process with Caffenol is really “disposable” to me, so to speak.
If you haven’t tried this process, take a roll of film that you think you could part with and try it out. It’s a lot of fun and could potentially save you money from buying traditional developers. It’s quite a kick to take the instant coffee on your kitchen shelf and turn it into a film developer, it really is! 🙂
Have a blessed day and I hope you stay safe in you’re in the zone of this major blizzard.
Note: I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or something changed with WordPress, but people used to be able to click on the photos to see a larger version, but now it doesn’t give me that option. If anyone can tell me why, I would appreciate it!