I take my coffee black and white.
April 20, 2006 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Developing black and white film at home just got much cheaper. It's possible to develop film using tea, coffee, or even vitamin C. To avoid being called a fustian photography nerd, call it caffenol (or caffeinol, but not that caffeinol).
posted by nomad (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Tres cool. I am just now rebuilding my BW darkroom. One of the problems I have been dealing with is the shelf life of expensive chemistry, as I am sure I will only be developing every once in a while it would suck eggs to have to buy new rodinol every time.
posted by Gungho at 7:44 AM on April 20, 2006

Have you tried diafine? It's only two chemicals, and can be almost indefinitely reclaimed. You just have to push or pull depending on what kind of film you're developing.
posted by splatta at 7:51 AM on April 20, 2006

oops sorry: diafine
posted by splatta at 7:52 AM on April 20, 2006

Oh neat!
posted by klangklangston at 7:54 AM on April 20, 2006

Rodinal lasts a zillion years. My uncle used to have a bunch of glass marbles in a jar in his darkroom. After each roll he developed, he'd drop one marble into the Rodinal bottle, bringing the level of liquid back up to the top.
posted by 327.ca at 8:03 AM on April 20, 2006

I was talking to a friend of mine about digital cameras and b/w developing. The two of us together, we have about 70 exposed rolls of Tri-X and even (gasp) FP4 in the fridge, simply because we can't be arsed anymore

and this is a sad thing
posted by matteo at 8:10 AM on April 20, 2006

matteo: "The two of us together, we have about 70 exposed rolls of Tri-X and even (gasp) FP4 in the fridge, simply because we can't be arsed anymore"

For one fleeting moment, I thought you said that you had 70 unexposed rolls, and I was about to email you my mailing address. Then I read it correctly.
posted by Plutor at 8:24 AM on April 20, 2006

This is great. And you can use a slide projector as an enlarger, if you're very quick with the switch.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2006

Coffee produces very murky results; my findings are here.
posted by scruss at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2006

Just a quick warning to the curious: Rodinal is a really rotten substitute for coffee.
posted by 327.ca at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2006 [2 favorites]

matteo: and I thought my five or six rolls sitting in my fridge undeveloped was bad!

I know what you mean though, on top of developing, scanning them and post processing the images, it's all a big hassle.
posted by splatta at 8:37 AM on April 20, 2006

I've had very non-murky results after trying this a few times, and I don't see any murk in the shots from the chromogenic article. It is possible to get normal looking photos using this technique.
posted by nomad at 8:38 AM on April 20, 2006

This arcane knowledge has been around for some time. It is kind of neat to develop with coffee (I've never tried it and might give it a spin) but much prefer using proper chemicals for photos that I care about.

And it's not like a bag of D76 or a bottle of Edwal concentrate (what I've been using lately) is particularly expensive.

I suppose it's a bit of a hassle to develop film, but I find that I really enjoy the process. I put some music on an invert my tank to the rhythm. It's sort of meditative, in a way. Of course, were I a professional with 70 rolls to process I'd probably think of it in very different terms.
posted by aladfar at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2006

matteo:develop those rolls of film as soon as you can, because they are a wonderland of surprises and great stuff.

There is nothing more fascinating than developing a forgotten but recently re-discovered roll of film. They are like a time machine - suddenly you are faced with images of long-forgotten situations, places, people. Pictures you totally forgot you made are suddenly great treasures.
posted by Nicholas West at 9:58 AM on April 20, 2006

I think "washing soda" usually refers to sodium carbonate.
posted by 327.ca at 10:42 AM on April 20, 2006

I didn't think developing B&W film was that expensive. Making prints, OTOH...
posted by smackfu at 12:20 PM on April 20, 2006

This is cool and seems more enviro-friendly than standard photo chemicals.

odinsdream: Washing soda is different than baking soda. More concentrated I guess. I think you can find Arm & Hammer washing soda in the cleaning products aisle.
posted by StarForce5 at 2:05 PM on April 20, 2006

Washing soda is sodium carbonate Na2CO3, which will give you a fairly high pH at the concentrations in these recipes. Baking soda is sodium hydrogen carbonate, NaHCO3, which will give you a pH much closer to neutral. You can think of baking soda as washing soda that's had half of its basicity neutralized.

Different reducing agents have differing requirements for the strength of the activator--I think there are some really hot developers that will work with bicarb, but plain soda is more common, and some developers even require lye (sodium hydroxide, NaOH, caustic and nasty, but you can get the pH up to 14 with it if you really want :).
posted by oats at 7:06 PM on April 20, 2006

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