Friday, February 17, 2006

Perking Up in the Darkroom

ephemeral pond
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
For some time, I have thought about trying to use the "folgernol" or "caffeinol" recipe to develop some black and white film. I have been seriously developing my own film for about six years, and have used a variety of commercial developers, mostly sticking with D-76, HC-110, Rodinal, and Diafine.
The attraction to using caffeinol is that it goes against my gut instinct... why in hell would someone use instant coffee to develop film? In addition, the low-toxicity and the ability to have good shadow detail with the developer is a plus.

The formula is presented here:
2 tsp washing soda (Sodium carbonate)
4 tsp instant coffe (I used Maxwell house)
1 gram vitamin C (1 finely gound 1000 mg tablet)
8 oz water

I shot a roll of Ilford FP4+ (125 iso) and developed the film in the caffeinol for 15 minutes at 74°F, agitating every minute. I think the results were good... in fact, the negatives were pretty dense, so I think I will adjust the time to be a few minutes shorter next time.

The beauty of this developer is that it uses ingredients that are common and easy to mix. Something to think about in the years ahead when the big companies reduce the choice of developers.


MikeR said...

This is dang cool stuff. I have been reading about different formulas lately for making your own developer, but have hesitated because of the chemicals used and my inability to get them. This seems quite simple to do with good results. Might have to try it with paper.

Mark said...

Mike -- If you can get a copy of Anchell and Troop's Darkroom Cookbook... you'll find all kinds of good stuff in there. My favorite is D-23 -- sodium sulfite and metol... That's it.

MikeR said...

Thanks for the heads-up. I will check on amazon to see if they have it. I recall a post over on nelsonfoto about some home brewed Rodinal too. Now all I need is a book translating all the chemicals into the English language. :) Sodium Sulfite, oh that's just Drano, and Metol, that's just cough drops. You know, something along those lines. Where do you get your chemicals?

Jordan said...

I was unimpressed by plain Caffeinol -- I found it very grainy -- but may have to try the version with Vitamin C in it.

Sodium Sulfite really isn't available in any "household" form, though you can get the metabisulfite as a wine preservative (they sell it in the supermarket here) and add extra base to compensate. The developing agents have no household equivalent, though you can let Tylenol stand in a highly alkaline solution to form p-aminophenol (as in Rodinal).

Borax from the supermarket is good, as is pH-Plus from the pool supply store (pH-Plus is mostly sodium carbonate but may have insoluble material in it).

There is, unfortunately, no "household" way to make fixer...