August 15, 2012

New recipes

Hi guys, something new after a long time. I had lots of fun with Caffenol-C developers in the past and wanted to try something new for me.

Caffenol-C and it's many variants are not real fine grain developers, although Caffenol-C-L is better than most others in this regard. Many commercial fine grain developers use sodium sulfite as a silver solvent agent, making grain smaller in high concentrations. One of the most famous for sure is D-76, containing 100 g/l sulfite in the stock solution. Lower amounts are used as a preservative. For another purpose it is used in waterbeds, it's sold here sometimes as "bubble ex". And that's how I got it from a waterbed supplier, 400 g for 4,60 Euro, shipping included. Not a big venture ;-)

Another thing was adding Rodinal to a Caffenol-C, using a third developing agent for synergistic work and hopefully better film speed. It already worked, but grain was pretty big. Could sulfite be the solution? And could homebrewed Parodinal from Paracetamol painkiller pills substitute the Rodinal? Will we get the desired film speed? Will we get reasonable fine grain? The target is at least EI 1600 from an ISO 400 film, more is better, and grain should be much smaller than with a Delta 3200 for example. That's a great film, speed and shadow details are splendid in many developers, but very expensive and grain is pretty huge for 35 mm film.

So here's the new Caffenol-C-F recipe, F means fine grain:

washing soda waterfree 17 g/l
Vit-C 4 g/l
sodium sulfite aka "bubble ex" 50 g/l
instant coffee 40 g/l
pot. bromide 1 g/l

Together with Rodinal 20 ml/l = 1:50 it worked perfect, so I brewed Parodinal according to Donald Qualls recipe:

250 ml water
30 tablets @ 500 mg Acetaminophen (Paracetamol, Tylenol)
sodium sulfite, anhydrous, 50 g
sodium hydroxide 20 g

Again the sulfite was the "bubble ex" and the hydroxide was "drain free" or "Rohrfrei" in german. If there should be small aluminium chips in there, remove them with a plier.

Use protective gloves and glasses. Never pour water over the hydroxide, give small amounts of hydroxide into the water at the time. Cool the mug in cool water while diluting the hydroxide. Be careful! Stay away if any doubts!!!

I let stand the fresh Parodinal for 3 days, then I use it. See how it worked.

The Cardinal developer - Caffenol-C-F with Parodinal 20 ml/l 

This is a completely homebrewed developer.

The first one is HP5+ as 35 mm film at EI 3200 in Caffenol-C-F with Parodinal 20 ml/l developer, I call it the Cardinal developer.

So the grain is razor sharp and small, scanned with a high resolving Minolta Scan Dual II. Some brightening was necessary in postprocessing, but nothing too dramatic.

Now I tried the TMax 400, 35 mm film, in Cardinal developer. The film was a delicate candidate in Caffenol so far, lots of fog and quite ugly grain at high speed. So again the TMax400 was exposed at EI 3200, developed 15 minutes @ 22 °C in Cardinal, agitation first minute constantly, then 3x every 2 minutes.

Shot in bright sunlight with a Minolta Dynax (Maxxum) 700si with battery grip shutter speed of 1/4000 and a stopped down tele lens, the neg is really contrasty and reminds of a transparency. How I love the look! The 35 mm film was scanned with the reliable Canoscan 8800F, needing some unsharp masking in postprocessing but with better tones and I love the result. The Tmax400 shows almost no fog, very, very small grain for EI 3200 and - of course - a bit compressed tones. For better shadow detail and easier silver prints you should restrict the exposure to EI 1600 and are rewarded with splendid tones, very fine grain and exquisite sharpness at EI 1600 - I'm glowing! Let's hope that Kodak will survive.

Finally I have to give credits - huge credits:

- Dr. Scott A. Williams and his 1995 technical photography class at the R.I.T. - the Caffenol pioneers!
- Donald Qualls and his omnipresence in the universe of homebrewed developers
- Steve Anchell for his great "darkroom cookbook"
- all the guys at "The new Caffenol home" group at flickr for their constant help, encouragement and inspiration
- and the many mostly unnamed friends in the www like Rob, Mike "the englishman in France", Larry, Henrique, Dirk, another Dirk, Gerald, Jon, Khoa, Adrian, Volker, Micha, Berthold ..... just to name a very few by their first names, they will know.......

Thank you very much!

Best - Reinhold