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?
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.
Well the situation in Singapore is not too much at celebrating and I did not find yet the way to represent the poetry of empty streets. So this posts start with reminding the not so distant past when Humans were roaming the streets.
At that time, a couple of weeks ago, I put one of my last rolls of Polypan F50 in the Leica M4 and hit the road with the Summaron 35mm F3.5 ltm.
I have a nice Leica LTM to M adapter which provides proper focusing, and bring the 35mm framelines on the M4, so I can frame accurately.
The roll of Polypan was given to me two years ago, and is probably expired, but shot at ISO 50 it still looks fine.
Shooting ISO 50 with a 3.5 max aperture lens in overcast light is a bit challenging.
Shades of grey on the old Polypan are amazing, so are the details.
I had a couple of disappointing roll recently. First I shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X with the Heineken toy camera that shows reticulation. This was a small boat trip with friends for a birthday celebration, so I am quite annoyed.
The camera works superbly, and ISO 400 by the see on a bright day is plenty for the F10 plastic lens.
Even in the shadows as above, but it was screwed up at processing as you can see below.
Is it a call for self processing in the future?
The next roll, is the evening birthday party of my friend Paul, shot with the Leica M6, and still the Summaron 35mm F3.5 LTM. This was a roll of Ilford Delta 3200 shot at 3200. The M6 meter is always very accurate so I am very surprised that the roll turned out so underexposed.
The film was not expired. My only guess is that the meter was fooled by the very bright patches at the table, and even more easily that a 35mm gets a wider range), probably for such event its better to meter from close and keep it fixed.
Before moving to the focusing bit, lets start by a few shots from Phuket. My eyesight for short distances is becoming quite bad so I cannot read the markings on the camera, so when I loaded this roll of Kodak Pro image 100 I put the speed selector to 1600 instead of 100.
So the pictures from Phuket are underexposed by 4 stops, but end up being quite exploitable , the colors are still pleasant. Nice job Kodak.
I realized my mistake at Phuket airport and changes the speed. Above the colorful planes at the airport terminal; I quite like the colors of this film.
Back in Singapore, I had my black and white film processed and as the results were OK (See last post), so I decided to finish this roll with the F3. I changed the screen to the Split screen model K as its easier to focus, so it will give a better indication of the accuracy of the camera focusing.
Of course the shot above is a hip shot where distance has been guesstimated, so it does not prove much.
The two following shots are related to a Taoist ceremony in the center of town, the afternoon weather was quite bright so the shots were done with a small aperture, balancing potential focusing problems.
I think this ceremony is held by one of temples situated in the nearby habitation block. The place were the tent is set, often hosts funeral wakes, and even a medium ceremony after Chinese new year.
In TWG tea shop at raffles hotel, the lens was nearly wide open and the focusing on the letters quite easy, it looks the picture is in focus.
The lizard also is is focus, though small.
The shot above was done probably at F4 and quite close, looks reasonably in focus as well, I really love the warn tones or the film.
So far so good until the last shot, wide open (F1.4) , the light was a bit dim, I focused on the glass at the front where it seems the actual focus is on the middle of the table (or the Asahi beer logo), so 10 to 15 cm back. So this is not very conclusive then.
Regular readers already know the Leice IIIc is my go to camera when I just walk around without goals. This roll was loaded at the end of a supposed Hasselblad walk with the Hasselblad User Group Singaore (HUGS).
This is a roll of cheap Kodak Color Plus. I shot a few of them so far, and I think it is good enough when you have no special goal.
This is quite an easy film to scan, the ISO 200 is quite convenient for color street shots on a nice day.
Walking from Bugis and Waterloo street area, the weather was beautiful, and I think the colors are very nice, vivid enough but not over saturated.
That day I had the Voigtlander 21mmF4 mounted on the Leica IIIc, and as above and below I think it realy renders movement very nicely.
The colors on the next two shots are outstanding, but light was exceptional too.
Of course sometime as above the 21mm gives a bit too much negative space.
Over this last year I shot a lot of with the 21 VC and I like it a lot. On the negative side I would say that sometimes it gives a very crisp and modern look to the pictures you may or may not like.
From this point the pictures are taken with the vintage Summaron 35F3.5. They are mostly taken in the afternoon where the light if not as good.
I also think the Summaron is an excelled lens. 35mm is a lot more manageable than 21, but I also have a 35mm finder,
The above is taken inside the National Design Museum, but there was plenty of light.
I don t realy know the relationship between the expo and Kraftwerk, but…
Film is scanned at home with Epson v800, I do a bit of colour and exposure correction in Light-room .
Another long post, but I don’t fill like splitting this story up, hey that’s my third post about Thaipusam this year.
On arriving at Farrer park MRT, we met our first Kavadi bearer.
And then more devotees waiting for the traffic light.
The little devotees
Then when moving inside the temple the devotees are assembling the Kavadis
or prepare their offerings
While others use their phones to snap their friends.
Pictures above are taken Ilford HP5 shot at box speed, I used not to be a big fan of this film, but actually I am very satisfied with these results. The pictures after are done with the Kodak TMY 400, not exactly my usual Tri-X, but i generally quite like it.
Actually I don’t see any difference, so I may shoot more of the cheaper HP5 going forward.
Still osculating but looking more steady.
All shots with Leica M6 Classic and most of them with the Summicron 35mm F2 AsphvII (the last version), processed at the usual lab (well dropped at Ruby and they get the usual guy do the work) and scanned at home with the Epson v800.
This is a follow up of the first roll shot in Hanoi (here). On the way back to Sapa, we stopped in the area from Hanoi which is close to the lake for a single night, lucky enough thee was this nice market next door.
Best shot of the roll was the first one, on the evening of the arrival, this man was barbecuing meet outside of the market.
This also is a roll of Tri-X 400 shot with the Leica M6, and the Summicron 50mm v5.
The market is small but large enough to shop with your moped.
The market though small has several entrances making for interesting lights (not that I may have used it).
Outside the market the area is very lively with street sellers, small shops and all.
On the fringe of the old quarter this is a nice area to visit, a lot of small hotels, shops, an further out you can walk to the lake are.
So off to Vietnam for Xmas 2019, for a bit of chilling time over Christmas. In the bag, the usual kit, M262, M6, 28,35 and 50 crons and of course a couple of Tri-x rolls.
Hanoi is a great place to shoot. People are friendly and generally not photo adverse. There are so many pictures to take, that if you cannot take one, just walk to the next.
As usual, the M6 is most often mounted with the 50 cron, that ensures a reasonable distance for candid shots.
Street side food vendors and their patrons are still a great subject.
I was last in Hanoi 10 years ago and the traffic has not changed, crossing the roads still feels like an adventure and motorcycles are omnipresent.
We arrived late on Christmas eve, so our first outing was a walk to Saint Joseph Cathedral on Christmas day. The mass was already going on when we reached and people were standing outside of the church.
After the service an orchestra was playing outside.
A good opportunity for selfies.
We walked down to the Metropole hotel, where the two Citroen below are standing guard. I stayed there 10 years ago, and at that time they could be sent to fetch you from the airport in style.
We then walk north in direction of Long Bien bridge, going through the old quarter.
Among many, I met these local photographers and we took shots of each others.
Finally we made it to Long Ben bridge.
Where I met the two young film photographers below.
Hey this was a long post. Be reassured the next roll is not as good.
This is one of the last rolls of 2019, finished on the 31st December morning.
It is a Kodak Portra 400, shot with the Sumaron 35mm F3.5 lens on the Leica IIIc.
As usual I shot the roll over two weeks, I was lucky on the first day to stumble upon a ceremony at Hong San See temple around the corner, where deities coming from China to be worshiped here were sent back home by the lion head lorry. A few moments later I went to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown for a the temple consecration ceremony after its renovation.
December is a wet month in Singapore, umbrellas are out (and colorful).
Pre-Christmas the Orchard road shopping area was busy.
At the “wings” watering hole in Clark quay I finally managed a decent picture of girls in uniform. I just printed it for them, to give away next time I walk by. This was shot wide open at 1/60 or 1/30.
The newly opened Funan mall with its climbing wall is just around the famous Peninsula shopping center with its many cameras shop and my fav lab.
I like the Portra for many reasons, I think it is very good for shots as above with muted colors.
Christmas is also an opportunity to visit churches for office or to watch the Christmas cribs.
Finally on the 31st of Dec, I carried the M4 along, to finish the roll. This was to Chinatown again with a group of photographers. Weather was just great.
I must say I also love the Portra for its saturated colors.
All shots, Leica IIIC, with the Summaron 35mmF3.5 LTM lens and assorted 35mm Viewfinder. Kodak Portra 400
Scanned at home with Epson v800
Dropped for processing at Ruby Photo (not sure who does the actual processing)