4-Tea-C: My Own Tea B&W Film Developer Recipe

4-Tea-C: My Own Tea B&W Film Developer Recipe

I’ve seen a rising interest on my tea b&w film developer post lately and realized that I never did post my recipe here. It has been a while since I actually developed a roll of film with it but this recipe worked when I did use it. Your mileage may vary.

Ingredients (to make 500ml):

  • 2 tea bags of each Red Rose orange pekoe, Tetley’s pure green tea, Tetley’s pure peppermint tea, and Tetley’s pomegranate green tea (8 tea bags in total)
  • 2 teaspoons of washing soda (I used ARM & HAMMER® Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster)
  • 1000mg vitamin C (I used “King of Spice” brand Ascorbic Acid from Bulk Barn)
  • water

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Pinhole Day

Cherry Blossoms

Pinhole Day is only two days away! Well, technically, it’s three days away, but since the last Sunday of April this year is also Easter Sunday, they will accept pinhole photos taken between April 23 and May 1. You don’t get three days a week to come up with a pinhole photo to submit to pinholeday.org every year, I can tell you that much! That’s why I urge you to participate. It’s fun, and you’ll be amazed with the results if it works out. Emphasis on ‘if it works out’ because sometimes it doesn’t, but you know, there’s always next year.

Last week I built myself a pinhole camera out of a smallish cardboard box for the body and stuck to it is a roll film back from a vintage press camera we won in a live auction in Paris (Ontario, not France) years ago. The pinhole is made from my favourite material: pie tin (the thin, disposable kind; easy to puncture). I meant to take it out for a test roll last weekend, but alas, the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. I’ll just have to guesstimate the exposure time this weekend.

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Developing B&W film with Tea

Developing B&W film with Tea

UPDATE: I posted my very own tea developer recipe here!

After searching the web for information on tea-based film developer and not finding much, except for this rather inspiring forum thread, I decided to just bite the bullet and make my own tea developer based on what little information I had. I didn’t have black tea but I did have some orange pekoe, green, peppermint, and pomegranate green teas in my kitchen cupboard so I thought, what the heck, let’s get some water in a saucepan, throw some tea bags into it, boil it, mix it with vitamin C and washing soda, and see what happens!

While the teas were steeping, I shot a roll of Fuji Acros 100 around the house with my long-abandoned Chinese medium format SLR camera, the Great Wall DF. If the tea developer didn’t work, I wouldn’t be too sad because I can always re-shoot the same things all over again some other time if I want to.

While I was busy preparing the film for developing, Troy got home from work and insisted on going grocery shopping. I didn’t really want to wait until we got back home to develop the film. Originally, I thought I’d do a 30 or 45-minute development, agitating every 3 or 5 minutes, but since we had to go, I decided to do a 2-hour semi-stand development. I ended up agitating only 3 times in total. Then I washed and fixed as normal and washed again. And then, the moment of truth: did it work? It did! Yaaay!

I did notice the white spots on the negatives when I was hanging it to dry but didn’t think much about it until I started scanning and saw the many dark spots on the scans. It was kind of disheartening at first but then it grew on me. The dark spots actually give a vintagey feel to the shots which I find rather endearing. I hope that I’ll be able to replicate the effect the next time I decide to develop with tea again, which is going to be soon. I really can’t wait to experiment again with different combinations of tea!

If you’re interested, there’s a couple more pictures from the roll developed in tea (other than the one at the beginning of this post) in this Flickr set.

Live and Learn

Cracked

I love learning to do new things. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I look back. This year I’m hoping to:

  • Learn to draw;
  • Learn to make cute shrinky dinks out of my drawings;
  • Learn to make negatives out of Fuji instant film;
  • Maybe learn to knit.

I said maybe to knitting because I still find it daunting, but I’ve got a couple of friends and my mother-in-law offering to teach me how to knit so we’ll see about it. I do have a big stash of yarn to burn from my venture into the wonderful world of crochet last year.

I just ordered three books to help me teach myself how to draw. They’re all by Sachiko Umoto. I like her drawing style. Troy also says that he has Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake somewhere among the piles of books in the basement that he’ll dig out for me. Quentin Blake is known for his quirky drawings in various Roald Dahl‘s books and I do enjoy his style.

As for shrinky dinks, well, I was first inspired by a blog post and then of course my new favourite TV show, Raising Hope, has to feature shrinky dinks in its fourth episode that I just watched last night. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something, and I’m listening! :)

I started shooting with a vintage Polaroid Land Model 100 last year. Polaroid no longer made the film for it but luckily, Fujifilm does. With the camera, I’ve been shooting Fujifilm FP-100C instant film, which is a peel apart film. I’ve always found the part that you peel off and throw away to be such a waste. But then I found out that you can actually make a negative out of it with a little help from a household bleach product! Of course I have to learn how to do it. Even more so now that I’ve got an instant film back for my Hasselblad. Having a negative to your shots is always a good thing.

Are you still awake? Good. I was worried for a bit there. :) And this is the part in which I don’t know how to end a blog post. I think I’ll just end it with a “Fin” a la French movies. Oh là là!

Fin.

Developing B&W film with Caffenol-C

Caffenol-C Results

I’ve been wanting to try developing film with Caffenol-C for awhile (the fact that it’s environmentally-friendly really appeals to me), and last week, I finally did. The first roll I developed turned out to be a dud since it came from a totally experimental pinhole camera. I had no more exposed roll to try to develop so I took Troy and my Holga camera for a walk downtown and shot a roll of Agfa APX 100 film. The result is what you can see above. It’s grainy, streaky, unevenly developed (the last two are largely my fault) but hey, it really works! Next time I’m going to have to try it on a roll of properly exposed film, as in shot with a SLR camera instead of a toy camera. Over- and underexposed negatives just don’t scan very well.

Anyway, if you’re interested in my Caffenol-C recipe, this one’s for you:

  • 5 tablespoons of Maxwell House Original Roast instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons of Arm & Hammer’s So Clean Super Washing Soda
  • 2 Redoxon Vitamin C Effervescent tablets (I used the lemon-flavoured ones)

Mix with 500ml water, or use two glasses with 250ml of water in each to dissolve the coffee and the washing soda separately. Once the coffee is dissolved, throw in the vitamin C tablets. It will get frothy on top but I’ve found that once you mix it with the washing soda solution, the froth disappears. Develop for 15 minutes, agitate every 60 seconds, and then stop bath and fix as normal. I use tap water for stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fixer for fixing. If you know of a source of sodium thiosulfate (the active ingredient in fixer) that can be found in supermarkets, please do let me know! I’m almost out of fixer.

Another green b&w film developing solution I’d like to try is the one with mint tea and baking soda. It’s supposed to work and smell better than Caffenol. People are complaining about how the Caffenol-C solution smells like death. It’s actually not that bad. It smells like tuna sandwich!

East Meet West

Mango and Pepper

I think I’m going to have to use different kinds of ND filter on my Polaroid SX-70 for different situations, i.e. ND2 for indoor and ND3 for outdoor because using ND3 indoor makes for some underexposed Polaroid shots. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for free filter samplers. If you ever need some ND filters for your Polaroid SX-70, I’d highly recommend getting the Lee Filters Cinematographer’s Edition swatch book that you can order through their contact form for free. It sure beats ordering a tiny piece of overpriced ND filter from Hong Kong, which I wish I could say I hadn’t done before.