This is the roll number 40 of 2020, and the one for which I break even on my Caffenol investment. At 7$ per roll at the local lab, I am now breaking even on my dark bag, Vitamin C, Soda ash, Fixer and first batch of coffee.
October is a big period for Taoist faith, known as Nine Emperor Gods. I could not see any big ceremony, but its a good time to visit temples I never see before.
Ok I break even but I have finished my Nescafe so I have to get another pack, I will check the cheaper local brand for roughly 8$. Also I screwed up a few rolls (at least 4) so do I have to factor this is my cost as well?
The picture above taken indoors has very nice tones I think. I am now using the Delta recipe and this roll was processed with a new batch, and turned out very fine. Not much dust to clone.
Finally 4 shots done during a stay-cation on the island of Sentosa. The island of fun seems a bit carceral at the moment with the beach being all locked down and some buildings in advances dereliction status.
All shots taken with Leica M6 and Summicron 35mm Asph V2. This is a 24 shots roll of a bulk Ilford HP5 that I handroll myself (I am really money conscious these day)
The National Aerated Water Co Pte Ltd was the actual goal of my walk. I went there with public transport and walk my way back home via Marina Bay. The old factory is going to be part of a new development, but almost two years after my last visit this is still a work in progress.
This is the first time I pass by the Geylang Bahru industrial estate. It looks like a promising area, with small workshops, like here a Rattan Basket factory.
Heading down into town towards Boon Keng MRT, is a very lively areas
I am nearly a full time barista because this is another roll processed in Caffenol. As the Agfa one it turned out very fine with the new Vitamin C. This is a roll of Ilford Delta 400 by the way.
The roll was shot with the Elmar 50 mm F3.5 on the Leica M4.
I took a close up on this little paper flag used for prayers or offerings and I am very pleased on the sharpness and overall rendering.
Opposite Jalan Besar stadium are a few workshops creating tarpaulins. I made many shots over the years but this is one off the best.
The cemetery is home to about 3000 graves, below which urns of ashes are buried. Unlucky for me the place was closed when I reached there after a 40 minutes bus ride. I could still make a few shots, but there seems to be some very interesting views to catch so I will try to go back at a better time.
Today’s pictures where taken on Ilford Pan F 50ISO film with the Hasselblad 500cm and 80mm F2.8. They were processed soon after in Caffenol using the batch I prepared last week, then scanned with the Epson v800. I had 3 shots left when leaving the cemetery, so I head back in town. I made a first stop at Tiong Bahru at QiTian Gong temple. It s the 100’s birthday of the temple this year and it has been renovated, but due to the Covid there are no celebrations this year. You can find pictures of past ceremonies there :
After this I head to the old railway station which is under work (no idea what is suppose to happen to it in the future) and finally to the small Hock Teck See Temple, a small Taoist temple surrounded by construction sites.
I am not sure if we are officially in the rainy season but we are definitely heading for it. After a very wet bike ride Saturday morning, I joined some fellow photographers last Sunday. What started as a very cloudy morning ended being very wet as well.
I went armed with the Leica IIIc now paired with the Elmar 50mmF3.5, and as it was rainy I loaded a roll of Shanghai GP3 400. This is supposed to be a new film, I could not find much information on the web.
We spend quite a while at the Kopitiam close to Circular road waiting for the rain to stop
Finally we set out as the rain stopped and walked around the area.
If you read so far and wonder what happened to the pictures, I will inform you that I am currently in a Caffenol frenzy and my process is currently not working so well after some initial success.
My last roll was a disaster (you can read here ), this one is quite close, I have made steps to improve my process thought:
I have invested in a changing bag
I bought some proper fixer (the images on this post are relatively clean)
I learned to bleach my spirals to help loading the film ( it is a breeze now)
I realized that my recipe was for 1 liter but my bottle was 0.75 so I reduced the doses of chemicals
and I ordered some pure vitamin C to have a more predictable result (but I don’t have it yet)
So the result is crap, but I scan still make a post with it : yeah! Ok there is no information anywhere on this film, left alone about Caffenol processing. I processed 5’50” at 28 degrees. As it’s over cooked I reduce by one minute this morning for my film of this week and … its not developed at all. I am a bit clueless.
As usual there is no lesson, lets do better next time. Maybe go back to 100 ISO films. Or start cooling the developer.
Today’s roll of film has been perfectly ruined, the experience showing that I am not yet the master of Caffenol.
This was a roll of Fuji Across 100, shot with the Leica M6 and a mix of Summicron 50mm and then my “new” Elmar 50.
I processed the roll with my second batch of Caffenol which is now 4 weeks old, and my dodgy Fomapan fix expired for 5 years and used for the 9th roll. A recipie for disaster you call it. The only new variable on the batch of Caffenol was the addition of table salt to act as restrainer for higher ISO films, could this cause the problems seen here? It did not seem to improve the processing of the Ilford Delta 400, so I wont try it again.
I decided not to clean the negs in photoshop, but just to enjoy the artistic look after the usual adjustement. I have a mixed feeling, because the processing looks to be working quite well, the quality of the greys and finesse of the grain below is just great to my taste.
Finally the Elmar is working just fine, focusing and all seems good as you can check below. This is a great addition for my LTM kit, lets check the next roll.
Dont worry I have taken good resoltutions: I binned both the Caffnol and the Fixer and will shop for some new fixer this week. I also ordered some pure ascorbic acid to replace my lemon flavoured vitamine pills.
On this note I whish you a good week, happy shooting and maybe next week a good roll for a change?
The title of today’s post is a trap. It should be called Caffenol week 6, but it starts to be boring. Saturday I finished a roll of Ilford Delta 400, and processed it as soon as I was back home.
This is my second brew that I kept from last week. I have been careful today to limit the time of processing to 5 minutes at 28 degrees, plus 10 seconds for pouring out.
The negatives are still a bit thick but on the better side I would say. I also filtered my fixer before using it. As a result I have very few crap on the film.
Another innovation this week is that I cut the roll in two before processing to squeegee. Less chance to scratch by carrying dust over with my fingers, less residual water at the bottom of the film. Unfortunately I did not count he frames so I ended up with an odd number of strips.
The result : this is my best Caffenol film of these past 6 weeks. I must say it is the best film altogether and choosing a small number of shots from it was difficult.
But back to the processing, there was very little dust on the film, and I did only minimal spot cloning in light-room after processing. I also added 1 more minute to the fixing time, this is the 7th roll with the fixer (It should do 17), it cannot harm.
This is shot again with the Leica IIIc, but with the Summaron 35mmF3.5, which is quite a sharp lens. I measured the light with the handheld Sekonic L-308-s, and used my 35mm Leica finder. The finder shoe was bent during my last move and I think the shot above really shows it.
The first three shots were taken around Chinatown last week, while the next three where taken around Marina Bay, where I met some friends by complete fluke. Friends are great picture subjects, lets remember this.
Saturday morning I met some fellow shutterbugs in Haji Lane. The two frames above were shot in a kind of artsy enclave where a lot of murals can be found.
The area is far less crowed than usual, but its still a busy place in the morning, with deliveries for local businesses, people having coffee or photographers bringing models to shoot with the colorful area as a backdrop.
We hijacked the model above, thanks, thanks, one shot and we move, my camera is so old, anyway.
We have entered the 7th month of the Chinese new year and offerings are appearing outside maybe businesses.
Processing film at home is a funny activity, actually it is a very modern one, inline with instant self rewarding of Instagram and phone-o-graphy.
So after 4 weeks wit the same brew, I decided it was time for fresh coffee. I followed the same recipe but added some table salt, which is supposed to limit the fogging on the negative, specially for high speed film like the Ilford Delta 400.
I prepared the mix Sunday afternoon to be ready for processing in the evening, but actually I could not wait and loaded the finished roll I had in an improvised dark cupboard.
I realized that my expired fixer is now all grey and contains a lot of flocculation. I try not to poor the deposit in the tank, but did not think of filtering. I fixed for the usual 5 minutes. Then I filtered the fixer back in the bottle.
It looked the film was fixed properly but there is some deposit in places. Next time I will filter before pouring and extend the fixing time just to be safe.
So I used the new mix at 28 degrees for a bit more than 5 minutes. The result is OK, but I would say a bit over done. I cannot tell if the table salt had any effect (I put 10g for a litter of Caffenol).
This time I managed to squeegee the water from the film without leaving dust or hair and let dry in the bathroom. The negatives are thick but scanned ok as you can see. There are some marks due to the residuals of the fixer I think.
So this is a roll of Ilford Delta 400, supposed to be a fine grain film (compared to HP5), a bit cheaper than the usual TriX. The film lacks a bit of contrast in my opinion.
This was shot with the Leica IIIC and Voigtländer 21mm F4. With the 21mm the subject is always so far away.
Unless you come very close
In which case you make friends, or at least you have to engage.
I engaged the social distancing ambassadors, as I think they deserve to be remembered for their service to the community and that hopefully one day they will only be memories and we will look back at this picture to make sure this was not just a dream.
The shots around Marina bay were made by a very bright day and some are done at higher speeds for which I suspect the Leica III to be a bit lazy, hence the mild darker right side (or brighter left).
I included a few more shots back to my usual habit of burning film randomly.
I am still not so good at hip shooting, it seems I constantly aim too high. Luckily I realized I am not the only one.
I am a bit better at pre-focusing and aiming from the eye level. Particularly with my VC 21-25mm finder.
I hope you enjoyed the reading. The next roll is not very far away.
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.