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.
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.
Birthdays have the habit of coming back every year, so for the third time I think I find myself at the TIONG BAHRU QI TIAN GONG temple in the area of Singapore called Tiong Bahru for the birthday of the temple. One of my friends reminded me of the event and I was super happy it was at a time where I could attend.
This is a Taoist temple, a popular faith in Singapore among the Chinese population. I still don’t know much about the Taoist faith and practice, so i won’t try to explain it here. The spirits and gods have a great place in the faith and they are honored through offerings like Chinese Opera, joss paper bonfires, ..
The celebration involved lions dances, a dragon dance troop, musicians, as above and below. Singaporeans say that Taoist are noisy. I think I have some old shots of the gentleman below.
The person that looks to be the man in charge posing with the lions and some banners.
Meanwhile across the street, the porters of the gods sedan chairs are taking some rest.
I shot 2 rolls of Tri-x (one above, one below this paragraph), one roll or Provia 400H (in between) and hundreds of digital pictures using the magic combo, Leica M6 for film and the M262 for digital; for lenses I brought the 50 cron, mostly on the M6, the 35cron mostly the M262 then. I also brought along the 90mm Elmarit for a few digital portraits.
At that moment the gods starts to be carried in 3 sedan chairs to the place where the bonfire will be lit.
Below some of the carriers of the three sedan chairs.
I don’t know if they are really heavy but the guys are relaying each others regularly.
This write up is about the film shots and should be called “You are all my favorites”. It found very difficult to select between the shots. I have included the shots of the two Tri-x rolls, I will do another small article about the Provia roll which has its own story.
We now arrived at the field where the bonfire will be lit, a small crowed is gathered. Led the the Taoist priests.
One of the gods chair with the idol in the middle.
The end of 2016 was fast approaching and looking at the treasure chest (and my spreadsheet of films shots during the year), I looked at camera who had not went to the field.
The Kiev IV is one of them, and I felt the next trip to Dakota was a good opportunity to take it for a spin. I loaded a roll of Tri-X and pocketed (so to speak) the body, the 50F2 and the 35F2.8.
My Kiev now has a new skin (no more mummy look), and no more light leaks (fingers crossed). So it does not look to shabby anymore and is quite a usable device.
The light-meter on mine is dead, or maybe is it too complicated to use. I find the speed control very difficult to use, and difficult to read with my poor eyesight at close range. The rangefinder with its lighting window below the shutter is not great as I always have a tendency to obscure it with a finger or the other.
I always like the images that the Kiev produces, my two lenses are very sharp, the rangefinder when not blocked, is very accurate. The speeds on my copy are quite on as well. But this fellow stays in the cupboard (actually a giant Tupperware) because of its not so friendly controls (speed change, shutter button, lens change, winding, loading of film). I think it even compares negatively to the Leica III.
This says I love the pics, I may get rid of my set this year, it may be a cheap entry level rangefinder for someone else, who knows.
About Dakota Crescent estate, you can read more on other posts, around mid-December the place is quite empty now.
This is a roll shot with the Kiev IV Camera, Jupiter 35 or 50 lens on Kodak TRI-X.
So what happened since the March Photowalk? No pictures ? Well a bit of the contrary, I have been in a film frenzy and I now average 2 rolls a week, but then this takes a lot of time to process and there is little time left to put this us in a post. Also of course has there’s been a bit of travelling, but that will be for other posts…
So at the week after the March photowalk, on a Wednesday morning, was the celebration of Panguni.
Panguni is a Hindu celebration similar to Thaipusam (you can see my post for this year here). In Singapore it is held two lunar months after Thaipusam, in the Yishun area, at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple.
Like Thaipusam it involves body piercing, carrying Kavadis, music, friends and family support.
It is always amazing from the outside to see people going through this ritual. But you can also find some laughter there.
Panguni is a lot smmaller celebration that Thaipusam and it is less crowded. A lot less photographers and onlokers as well. Some of the people I spoke to pput the emphasis on the local dimension of the ceremony.
Pictures are done with Leica M4 and M6, with Summaron 35F2.8 and Summilux 50F1.4v2, using Kodak Tri-X. I also shot some colours pics but they did not make it through the selection.
Ok actually this is more over the sea than under. Part of the “big tour of the south pacific” holidays camera pack, I carried along the Heineken Toy Camera and its waterproof case. I had a great time and some interesting shots when I brought in on a company week end out in Phuket two years ago, so I thought it would be a nice complement to the DSLR and the Agfa.
To make things a bit more funny, I loaded it with Black and White Tri-X film. I think the colors generally sucks with such cameras and black and white will make a bit more special images. I think at 400ISO the Tri-X is a bit over exposed even given the F9, 1/60th of a second fixed exposure of the camera. The 100ISO shots at Phuket where a bit better.
Oh and the fixed lens is a 28mm.
Below is my aquatic family, mini me and wifey
And your servitor, shot by Noé the aquatic photographer.
Shots from our hotel in Tahiti, with the island of Moorea in the background.
Finaly a real underwater shot with fish included.
All of this is good fun. I missed having a digital submarine camera though, I must say the few underwater shots would have been nice. But not regret, i’ll do this again.