March 19, 2010

Interview with Stephen Schaub

R.: Dear Stephen, I'm very proud to have on my blog one of the very few professional photographers in the word who is developing film with Caffenol-C. You are the leader of the figital revolution (, you combine analogue, film based photography and digital editing and printing.

There are many great working commercial developers outside, does the world really need another, an experimental B/W-film developer?

S.: Caffenol and Caffenol C have several advantages from economic to environmental and depending on the film it can have a wonderful ability to help control tonality for scanning purposes. I have tried many, many different developers over the last 20+ years and Caffenol C as I use it has been one of the most rewarding.

R.: Do you use both, Caffenol and Caffenol-C and what makes the difference?

S.: I have tested both and in the end settled on Caffenol C for two reasons:

1. The processing times are much shorter... in the range of 10-20 minutes whereas Caffenol is more like 20-40 minutes depending on the film.

2. Caffenol C negatives do not have as much of a brown stain as Caffenol negatives do, in fact some films have no stain at all... I found no real advantage to this stain unlike the stain from a developer like PMK Pyro and as such it just made my negatives more dense and harder to scan.

R.: One of the most discussed themes about Caffenol and Caffenol-C is fog. With medium speed films it is not a big thing, even when they are pushed, as far as I can say. But with higher speed films, 400 ASA and above, my trials were more or less disappointing because of too much fogging and a poor usable speed. What is your experience?

S.: About the same. Caffenol and Caffenol C in my opinion work best with slower speed films. My favorite films are Tmax 100 and Fuji Acros... both are fantastic in Caffenol C and both scan quite well.

R.: Are there any other drawbacks?

S.: Not really... the smell is easy to get used to and I sorta like it now. It is not perfect for all films as mentioned before and I don't know how it would be for wet darkroom work but for the films I use day in and day out it is now my go to developer.

R.: You shoot EI 25 to 1600 with 1 film, 1 developer and 1 processing time. The images look top-notch. That sounds too crazy. Are you kidding?

S.: Some films with Caffenol C have a tremendous latitude for scanning. This of course depends on the quality of your scanner, I use an Imacon- and it also depends on the range of the scene. I have found that films like Fuji Acros can indeed have a usable EI from 25-1600. I have now tweaked my process for two different times for this film.... one time for 25-400 and then a second time for 400-1600... it just makes the scanning a bit easier and will make it possible for users who don't have a scanner like an Imacon to fit the range of the film within the range of their scanner. But in a pinch as the test images show, yes one film, one processing time and EI 25-1600 is very possible. It does sound crazy but fantastic as well.

R.: Stephen, thank you very much for this interview. I highly recommend your website and for more details. Is there anything you still want to tell my readers? And all the best for your ongoing caffenol and future projects.

S.: Always remember why you got into photography in the first place... because it was fun! and Caffenol is not only fun but also amazing for the hybrid workflow... what more could you ask for.

Viva la Revolution!


Anonymous said...

As a tea drinker and a fan of b&w analogue photography I wholeheartedly support the caffenol process. After all, it puts coffee to some practical use AND yields very aesthetic results (together with the initial photo of course). Once the analogue camera I just bought arrives and the first trials have been run I will give it a go myself. Thank you for the inspiration.

imagesfrugales said...

Thank you Anonymous, I love also drinking coffee, but - never instant coffee. Good luck for your new toy - Reinhold

runlevel0 said...

First of all I need to say that I am really amazed and that this Caffenol thing will really mark an before and after in my "career" as film photog.

I just tried to find out what the issue is with the 1600ASA examples. I don't see anything that I would say is wrong.
I think that I will give it a try with these speeds. (maybe not this month as it's Queen's Day here in the Netherlands and it will be rather busy.

I normally shoot 125 (FP4+, because I both like it and it's the easiest to find), but I have at least a dozen of 1600 ASA rolls waiting for being developed.

Thanks for the great blog and thanks for sharing the knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Is there a recipe somewhere that a 400 iso has been pushed to 1600 Iso? I usually use HP5 400 but I shoot it @ 1600. Has anyone tried this?

imagesfrugales said...

Hi Anonymous,

if you can read you will find...
hint: look under "labels"