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

4-Tea-C: My Own Tea B<span class="amp">&</span>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<span class="amp">&</span>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


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!


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.