November 5, 2011


.... clicks in about 1.5 years. Time for a little celebration and - above all - to give credit to everyone who encouraged and supported me or contributed with her/his knowledge here or elsewhere. Also the film donations I received were extremely helpful, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

White rose shot with 3.5/50 Canon FD macro lens, illuminated with a 40 watt clamp lamp, exposed on long expired Kodak Technical Pan, stand devloped for only 12 minutes in Caffenol-C-L with 0.1 g/l pot. bromide at 20 °C, gentle agitation 1st minute cont., then let stand.

Cheers - Reinhold


Dirk [floyd] Essl said...

Congrats! Well done!

rag said...

Congrats Reinhold, for the clicks and the TP rose (not the easiest film around) Rob K

Darrell said...

Congratulations Reinhold and thank you for generously sharing your passion with us.
It has reinvigorated my love for B&W film photography!

Sabine said...

Hello Reinhold,

I've just made my very first Caffenol dev (three years after the last time I ever developed anything at school), and I'm already quite pleased with the results.

I shot a roll of Ilford HP5+ with an old Voigtländer camera, and let me say I had more trouble figuring out the camera (no rangefinder, no exposure meter, yadda yadda) than doing the thing with coffee!

See picture here (there are two more following this one)

For this I used Caffenol-C-M with 10g/l sea salt (because I couldn't find Kbr anywhere and I only had either table salt with iodide AND fluoride, or sea salt...). Maybe I should refer to it as alt-Caffenol-C-H instead, oh well.

Anyway, the conditions weren't ideal because my scale wasn't very precise, and also, while I tried to keep track of the temperature and the time (15min), I've had some mishaps and there might have been some slight variations (1°C at most). That is to say, I doubt the whole thing was super precise the whole time, but either way, Caffenol must be somewhat forgiving because I had images!

So I'm already happy that I didn't annihilate the negative, although in retrospect it sure is a little denser than the ones I developed at school with regular chem (but not too much, numbers on the side are readable and I could scan it just fine).

Even though I've done some darkroom at school, I'm still very much a newbie, I hope you don't mind if I ask a few questions. To have a better understanding of what I should fine tune next time, I would like to know whether the denser negative is due to fog, in which case I'll try to see if I can find Kbr somewhere, or add more salt (preferably of the iodide kind), or developement time, or other reasons. Do you have any ideas?

Lastly, specifically about the picture of the rose you posted above, how do you go about figuring out the duration of developement? I see that Caffenol C-L usually takes up to one hour with stand developement (reason why I decided to go for C-M, had no patience to wait around for an hour), so I was wondering how come you decided to shorten it to 12min, and how did it come out so neatly? Was it a lucky experiment or is there a way to figure out the duration of developement without risking the whole neg?

I'm sorry if this is long winded, but as I said, it's really the first time I try doing Caffenol, but it sure is fun!


imagesfrugales said...

Hi Sabine,

the link to the pic doesn't work.

Most films in Caffenol-C-M and 15 minutes at 20 °C become quite dense, you can expect a 1- 2 stop push with this development and of course slightly increased fog. For less density just shorten the dev time, maybe 8-10 minutes for boyspeed.

Microfilms like Technical Pan need a very flat development, otherwise the contrast becomes much to huge. So they need very weak and compensating developers at short dev times. 12 minutes in Caffenol-C-L was found by estimation based upon published times for high diluted Rodinal as a starting point

Best - Reinhold.

neil said...

Hi Reinhold,
When developing 4x5 negatives I was taught to just shuffle them in a tray of developer continuously for the entire time. Do you have any advice on how I might need to modify my development times in this case? Most recently I developed a batch of HP5 400 (shot at box speed) in Caffenol C-H with 11g of iodized salt. The negatives seemed to be overly dense compared to previous 35mm films I have done in daylight tanks with periodic agitation. Also, from one of the very early interviews with figital revoloution he advocated one development time across the board for all films and all speeds. Do you still think this is a suitable method?

imagesfrugales said...

Hi Neil,

I have no own experiance with large format photography, but for continuous agitation you will should reduce the dev time, maybe 15 % or so.

HP5+ at boxspeed and C-C-H must become very dense if you used the "standard" 15 minutes dev time. Expose as 800 or 1600 ASA or reduce dev time.

One dev time for everything as Stephen Schaub once claimed? I wouldn't go so far, but for hybrid workflow and a good scanner it may work if you don't mind some postprocessing. But also Stephen later recommends 2 different procedures for regular and push development. And keep in mind he uses a very expensive Imacon scanner. For classic silverprints adjusting times is a must as with any other developer. Overdevelopment will lead to blown highlights. But a scanner can handle big densities quite easy. So it depends....

Also some films behave quite different from the average. Microfilms f.e. need a very weak development, Kentmere/RPX-400 can profit from a really strong development.

Cheers - Reinhold

nhemann said...

Hello again Reinhold,

Thanks for the advice, I'm going to do some exposure/development tests as a result but was wondering if you could pass along a few generalities first. If I expose HP5 at box speed (asa400) what would be a good estimate of development time in that case? Do you consider the massive dev chart to be a reliable reference on what speed to expose the films at?
Thanks again,

imagesfrugales said...

Yes, the data from digitaltruth are mainly taken from the manufacturers data sheets. But at the end of the day it's YOU to decide what is best for your needs.

HP5 at boxspeed in Caffenol-C-L with 1.2 g/l pot. bromide, 20 °C, semi-stand development 40 or 50 minutes will be a good starting point.

Anonymous said...

Hey Reinhold,

wonderful work! One question:

Which fixer do you use for your caffenol experiments? Do you use one single (universal) fixer for all your films or do you use different fixers depending on which film type you process?

A short comment on this would be very helpful for a beginner like me!

Thank you in advance,


epidemiks said...

Hi, I live in Cambodia, and it's impossible to buy b/w chemicals, and troublesome to import/mail order, my current supply brought with me from Australia is fast disappearing, so I'm very interested in trying a Caffenol brew. After weeks of scouring the markets, I'm unable to find pure sodium carbonate, but sodium bicarbonate is readily available. Is there a way to modify the recipe to use sodium bicarbonate instead?
Great photos here, and very informative site. Thanks!

imagesfrugales said...

@ Pete: use any regular fixer, no mystreries here, regard the manufactureres processing info.

@ Epidemiks: bicarbinate is baking soda, can't be used for Caffenol, but can be converted easily to washing soda by heating. Look for "Thermal decomposition" at Wikipedia:

Heat up to 100 - 200 °C, hotter = faster, wait until all bubbles disappeared and you end up with about 60 % (weight) of waterfree carbonate/washing soda.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Reinhold, Can you tell me if you notice significant base fog with your Tech Pan using this development technique?

Thanks. Dan

imagesfrugales said...

Hi Dan,

no, the Tech Pan doesn't make much fog. You can cut the pot. bromide to 0.1 g/l, maybe skip it completely. Too much restrainer will kill shadow details.