Caffenol Workshop


My mate Tom Lehne is putting together a Caffenol film development workshop. If you’re around Hamburg, Germany, it’d be well worth looking into. He’s working with Larry of Lazarus fame, who, having 40+ years of professional printing experience, is inspiring to watch at work.

You can see the amazing results Tom is getting with instant coffee and a dash of special sauce on his website. This most definitely isn’t a case of “those who can’t, teach!”

[One of the alternatives i’ve been considering as my stock of Presto runs out is finding one of these old emulsions sold under brands like Fomapan or Efke and moving to Caffenol for development. It would be perfect if there was a decent, non-toxic replacement for fixer, but i’ve not seen much mention of that… perhaps it’s not that important, the fix is always going to contain the un-oxidised silver, and that’s never going to be good in the grey water. All that said, the Rodinal habit is hard to kick and i can see myself going Tri-X / Rodinal!]

Into Ilford?

Decisions, decisions.

Since leaving Japan (and my stash of film, currently in a fridge in Chiba…) i’ve been trying to work out what to shoot. The combinations of Fujifilm’s Neopan Presto 400 / Super Prodol, Acros 100 / Diafine, Kodak Tri-X / Rodinal had been serving me well for a couple of years, but each was it’s own niche.

Presto pushed to 1600 in just 9 mins @ 20C was pretty much grain free for well exposed shots. Acros in Diafine was amazingly easy to work with, had highlight and shadow detail that i really liked (who knows if it was technically any good? all i know is that it worked for me…) and Tri-X was something that i could always mess around with, and understand exactly how it would look after a trip through the purple soup.

All in all, it was quite neat.

And then Presto got canned. Great. Now i needed a new film that would push. T-Max has long been a non-starter for me, it has always looked too contrasty and sharp edged. Maybe that’s what some people want, but it doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps if i’d gone the whole way and learned to love the smell of T-Max developer… but all that talk of “gallons” just feels barbaric.

Travelling with made up Diafine isn’t a recipe for airport / shipping success, so that’s gone. To make that worse, Acros isn’t exactly cheap in Europe, and i’m not even sure that Fuji will continue to make it for the next five years… especially in 120. Which is a shame. It was really growing on me… anyway, it was never going to fill that niche of film that pushes to 1600.

Ilford sounds pretty committed to continuing to produce black and white film:

HARMAN technology Limited, trading as ILFORD PHOTO, is “Passionate about Black and White” and intends to continue this commitment.

It’s pretty much all they do… Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but better than Japan. If it works out, and sticks around, it’ll be worth it. So, here we are. I’m going to try shooting Delta 400 @ 1600, and HP5+ @400. The Rodinal is there to deal with the bunch of rolls of Tri-X in the fridge, and any random rolls that come my way. Bottom-line: if it doesn’t develop in Rodinal, it probably isn’t worth calling film!

Hopefully i’ll have results in a few days.

Pink Negatives

I’ve been developing quite a lot of Kodak T-Max 400 recently. One of the problems with the negatives is that they have a purple-ish / pink tint after being fixed. The Kodak support page says the following:

Important: Your fixer will be exhausted more rapidly with these films than with other films. If your negatives show a magenta (pink) stain after fixing, your fixer may be near exhaustion, or you may not have used a long enough time. If the stain is slight, it will not affect image stability, negative contrast, or printing times. You can remove a slight pink stain with KODAK Hypo Clearing Agent. However, if the stain is pronounced and irregular over the film surface, refix the film in fresh fixer.

which suggests to me that the fixing time for Fuji Super Fix is probably longer than the 6mins that i’ve been using… or the fix is close to used up. The latter doesn’t seem likely to me, as the last couple of rolls of Neopan that i developed came out perfectly grey. Although, it does warn that it uses up developer faster than usual film, and the rolls that Manny processed were fine. All very confusing.

It could also be that there is some important difference between the Fuji QuikWash and the Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent… but that doesn’t seem very likely.

The next rolls of T-Max that i process can sit in the Fixer for a good ten minutes! If that doesn’t sort it, it can go in a fresh batch, and at least i’ll know.

Rodinal versus Summer Pt. II

First of all, go and find the piece of paper that came in the Rodinal box. Now find ‘Diagram 2’. There are two graphs, one for 1+25, and one for 1+50. Being a little on the ケチ side, we’ll use 1+50.

Two things to initially note, i) the vertical scale (temperature) starts at 18ºC, ii) there are two roughly parallel lines, for 100 and 400 speed film.

Focusing on the APX 400 line, we see that it indicates that an increase in temperature of 3ºC reduces the development time by 4 minutes. If we assume that Tri-X will have similar behaviour to APX 400, it will have a (roughly) similar, and therefore parallel line on this graph. If you now draw a line, parallel to the APX 400 line, that passes through your known time and temperature (13min @ 20ºC, in my case) you can get a starting point time for higher temperatures.

Unfortunately the Agfa graph is skewed towards high values by the long development time for APX 400, but simply judging by eye, it’s easy to see that 13min @ 20ºC corresponds to 9/10min @ 23ºC. I’ve tried this with Tri-X and got results that i can’t distinguish from my usual efforts… as i’ve read that higher temperatures can yield more grain, i limited agitation to an initial 30s of gentle inversions, and two gentle inversions every minute.

Personally i’m not going to push this any further than 24ºC, as that’s the limit of the Agfa graphs. This doesn’t seem like it will be an issue… unless it stays really warm for several weeks.

Ice cubes? You’re all nuts – grow a pair and read a graph!