Here I am back for the fourth week with my Caffenol. I intended this week to be the last of my first brew. I was encouraged by the last weeks experience and became a bit too bold maybe and alas the issues added to the issues.
First for this last batch I chose to process a roll of Tri-x that I shot over the week end with friends and family. Tri-x is said to be not super Caffenol friendly and my first roll was not a massive success. How to calculate for both the estimates 7.3 minutes leading to over processing and the exhaustion of the Caffenol? I settled to try for a 6.3 minutes (including pouring in and pouring out time). To put odds on my side I also filtered the fixer that seemed to show some flocculation last week.
Alas again the gods of the dark room were not with me today, and after fiddling for a while (in the dark) I managed to load the film incorrectly in the spool of my Patterson tank. And the result is here : half of my roll is not processed. As I write it I think could have put it back in the Caffenol, but actually I just binned it. Well we learn by our mistakes, so I will have to iron out this process. All in all I may only have loaded 10 to 15 rolls in my life.
The film shows a bit of reticulation, but I think it may be the tap water used to rince the film, may have been to warm (tap let on hot after the washing up). Also it i snot as clean as my first negs so on top of it maybe the Caffenol need also to be filtered.
Anyway, I think the point is that my negative looks ok, so 6 minutes 30 seconds in 3 weeks old caffenol is OK for processing Tri-x and also maybe the caffenol can last 4 weeks?
I am pushing my luck by trying the my brew from two weeks ago again this Sunday.
First things first, shooting a bit of film. The weather is not improving and I did not had a chance to shoot much this past week. So this morning I loaded the old Agfa Isolette with a roll of Rollei 80s (my favourite film) and hit the road in direction of Arab street with a detour by Little India to finish the roll of Acros I processed last week.
The Agfa uncouple rangefinder is no longer working so distance are guestimated. I also use the EM-01 KEKS light meter.
For processing I used the two week sold Caffenol stored in a green bottle in the shade at ambient temperature (more or less 28 C). I think it turned out quite well (5 minutes processing at 28 degrees, 30 second inversions then 3 inversions every minute). The negatives are of average thickness, maybe I could have added 30 seconds. The caffenol is now old and this is the 3rd film processed with this batch.
I made a fatal mistake by wiping the film with my kitchen towel, lot of dust I had to clone in Photoshop. I will have to find how to do this properly. The fixer is starting o have some deposit. Maybe it wont last after the next couple of films.
Plans for next roll is to start a new batch of caffenol to see if the process is repeatable.
So what happened since last post and the “Caffenol rebirth” ; well nothing much happened in town nor to myself, so I shot half a roll of Fuji Across, mostly Saturday
Last Sunday I pour my Caffenol in a bottle of green glass (Perrier) and kept in just in case.
So tonight I was restless and I decide to give Caffenol another try.
As I did not finish my roll, I opened the Leica M4 in the dark, fiddle a bit with the film and managed to cut a 1 cm lead for the rest of the roll and unload the 22 first shots from the camera. I then loaded it in the Paterson tank and proceed as last week.
Massive Development chart give me again 6’44 @ 28 deg, for 100 ISO Accross, the Tri-x was overcooked last week, but that was 400ISO, so I though that I should give it a try, but actually I emptied the tank at 6’14.
The film is still dense, but can be seen through in normal light. Probably some of this is due to the coffee coloration (I can see if is brownish), so for the next 12 shost I will cut the time down by maybe another 30 or 45 seconds.
I kept the Caffenol again, I read you can keep for 6 or 8 weeks. Without being so extreme, if I can use one batch for my monthly shooting this changes the economics of it totally, at 2$ a roll this is a no brainer. Plus it is amazing to have all the products ready and go through the motion in about 45 minutes.
Ok so now I’ve been through this roll what is the conclusion. It looks quite good for what it is, no reticulation, reasonable grain, the contrast is quite good.
This was also measured using my new Keks EM01 ligh meter.
7 years after my last failed experiments I am back again toying with Caffenol to process my black and white film. Do not try to figure out why I do not use standard methods, I cannot myself.
This time again I have put all the odds against me, I found a box of 5 year expired Fomapan P fixer in the cupboard, I shot the Caffenol unfriendly Kodak Tri-X on the Leica IIIc with the unreliable Summitar 50 and the new Chinese meter offered by a friend (more on this later).
From my past experiments I have a kitchen scale and a Patterson cuve, and some weights to hold the film when drying. (I just had to buy a 4$ battery for the scale)
Testing the fixer
I found this idea on the internet to test the fixer by taking a piece of unexposed film, I cut the lead of a new roll found in the box, and drop it in the fixer (not the developer just right into the fixer) and let it sit a few minutes : it should go totally clear if the fixer still work as they should. Mine did so I should be covered from that angle.
I used in the past a recipe for stand development, but today I will try the Caffenol-C-M, recipe, the first on the http://caffenol.blogspot.com website.
Testing the developer :
I planned to test the developer with one of the following two test cases, but actually after discussing with my assistant (my son), we decided that anyway we will not be able to resist trying the film whatever the result of the test is. Anyway here are the test cases:
Test 1: once again I cut the leader of a roll and drop one into your developer and let it sit a few minutes then drop in your fixer and let it sit for a few minutes. It should turn all black.(as this part is generally over exposed), advantage is that you can use the lead of the roll you want to process.
Test 2: use a piece of unexposed film, say, a few frames from the beginning of a fresh roll and make sure it’s loaded in the dark. Process as you should, you should see the frame numbers and DX codes along the sprocket holes develop and the unexposed frames should develop to be clear.
For one liter the recipe is to mix in order :
54 grams of washing-soda (Harm Brand 8$ for 1 kg)
16 grams of Vitamine C ( crap from Guardian 13$)
40 grams of instant coffee (Netscafe Classic 10$)
Time and temperature
This is the difficult bit, the original recipe gives 15 minutes at 20 °C for 100 ISO film. Digi
Pre-soak 5 minutes (this step is optional, but it is relaxing)
Pour the developer
Agitation first 30 seconds, then 3 times each minute.
– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times
Fix: 5 minutes
– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times with a drop of washing up soap
the negatives are dense but images can be seen when back lighted and scanned with the Epson v800
A few more samples
Where it goes wrong
The problem often reported for Caffenol is that the chemicals are not reliable, for instance, my coffee is a mix of Robusta and Arabica, where the active compound is more present in the robusta, so 100% robusta would be better. My Vitamin C contains sugar and flavoring which impact is hard to guess.
Where to go from here
My film is over developed, so I already have some plans for the next roll : shorter time ( it was suggested to cut by 25%), or try the same recipe for a 100 ISO film, or cut the coffee.
I can do 5 batches with my Vitamin C + coffee, with 2 films per batch. You probably have to factor in 0.5$ a roll for Fixer, 0.4$ for the soda, if you are discounting the water you will be around 3.5 to 4 $, definitely cheap. 5 rolls would cover the 7$ a roll I pay to the lab for processing, so if you like the result its worth trying.
This is not actually a full roll of the lock-down, I did not shoot much and probably on the first 20 frames of this roll.
This is a roll of Kodak Tri-x shot with the Leica M6 classic and the Summicron 35mm Asph vII.
The first part of the roll was taken on a Saturday around lunch time in the Balestier area. Shops were half closed, hawkers were deserted and the rare shoppers wearing masks.
Little traffic rare cyclist allowed not to ear masked while ridding, life seemed to have come to a halt under the scorching sun. We had dreadful weather for a while, but the day I go out at lunchtime with a 400 ISO film, I am forced to shoot at F1/500 and F16.
There is always a nice outcome : I stumbled across the coffee shop below, I first stopped to take a shot (the symmetry of the arrangement caught my eye), then the chord bring the entry puzzled me and finally I bought some coffee. I usually use some arabica in my old Moka machine but they sell only robusta. In the end for a bit more than 5SGD for 250 grams that was a ok deal.
Of course life is full of encounters, an sometime you meet fellow Leica Shooters
I am no sure that Grab food riders made a fortune during the lock-down (my good sense tells me otherwise), but they were ubiquitous during the period and thanks to them we managed to have entertaining food at our table. (Thanks guys and gals).
As no many activity goes on to finish the film I walked the places where people were going out to exercise or just take a bit of fresh air while respecting the prescribed social distancing procedures. It is funny how here again you meet some acquaintances.
The Singapore river was usually packed with joggers and cyclist, we will surely do great at next Olympics when they eventually happen. The Marina Bay Area, though not empty was really a lot quieter that it used to be.
Skaters did had much problems crossing big roads carelessly.
The last few shots where taken after the lock down when we entered what was known as phase 1 and now phase 2. More freedom to roam around, retail shops reopening, still as nothing exceptional is happening, back to my usual vice : random shots of people in the streets, preferably with masks.
Hope you enjoyed the roll. I manage 38 shots on this roll again, unfortunately the process suffers from reticulation (same as the one I took a couple of month back ), I ll tell about it to the photo shop and maybe i ll try to process the films myself going forward.
I collected yesterday my first roll in a long time. It was probably finished the first week of the lock-down in Singapore which was on 5th of April.
This is an expired roll of Fuji Across shot with the Leica M6 and probably a mix of Summaron 35 and Summicron 28.
The roll is so so , maybe the roll is too expired maybe sitting on my drawer for 3 month was not a good idea, maybe I just mucked up the metering. Well there is a couple of fun shots. I put them as a slide show just to try.
During the last outings of the Leica User Group Singapore (LUGS) of 2019, I had the good idea to carry the Hasselblad 500CM loaded with my favorite film: the Rollei Retro 80s
I love the range of grays and the profound black that this film can produce. This is not all art but a nice walk with friends at a time when this was possible. I put the full roll, no censorship and some edition in Lightroom. Film was was processed at the usual lab (Ruby Photo) and scanned at home of Epson v800.
Oh geez another week gone. But this week is different, because this is the last before we start exiting the lock-down and enter phase 1 of the rest of our lives.
This week I also resume shooting film, not really knowing when I will be able to process the roll. I took 20 odd shots with the Leica M6 (400 TX) around Balestier area, where not much action was going on.
Look how much the grass has grown in from of the Victoria theater… (I have corrected the perspective of this shot in Lightroom).
and the nice light going through Anderson bridge.
Some stalls at the Interim Food market (moved from Golden Shoe) still have goods delivered.
Matching shirts for these people delivering good in downtown area.
Slim silhouette wearing what seems to be the new outfit for ladies going out shopping in the new normal.
All shots with Leica M262 and Summicron 28mmF2 Asph v1 : two old friends that I actually bought together, 4 years ago in June 2016. Time flies.
… and some friends from the HUGS (Hasselblad User Group Singapore), just before we could not hug anymore. A very small mid week post, 10 shot of a Rollei Superpan 200.
This is taken with a Hasselblad 500 CM with the Planar 80mm F2.8 CF, processed at my usual lab and scanned at home with the Epson v800, and edited in Lightroom. I don’t particularly like the Superpan, but I must admit it was OK on this occasion.
It is hard to believe this “new normal” has already been in place for 7 weeks. A quick heads-up for the near future : a phased “unlock” will start from first of June, the only sure thing is that schools will reopen on on a rotational basis. So it looks I will be able to write a few more of these posts.
I did not take the camera out of my bag this week, or did not even took a bag. Finally today, I decide to put the M262 + 28mm Cron around my neck on my walk to Chinatown to collect my dinner.
Excellent light when crossing from People’s part to Chinatown
The old Samsui woman seems lonely without any tourists around. I hesitated taking pictures of the stalls of Chinatown, all curtains pulled down, but the light was not great.
On the area in front of Chinatown Complex a few old folks were hanging around in relative self distance.
In front of the Buddha tooth relic temple, the incense burner was covered with a cloth, an unusual sight,
Finally I think I managed to capture the new life of the F&B outlets adapting to the crisis by offering take away and delivery, Above in front a a Korean BBQ, delivery men waiting on social distanced chairs.
And below patrons waiting outside the popular Kok Sen local eatery in Keon Siak Road.
Or a Japanese restaurant spelling out loud.
It seems that the female figures will be masked for a while on the pictures