The return of Caffenol (and Caffenol Plus)

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by silent1, May 12, 2004.

  1. I finally finished scanning my second roll of Tri-X in Caffenol, developed last weekend. This time, I used Caffenol Plus, same original ingredients (4 slightly rounded teaspoons of coffee crystals and 2 level teaspoons of washing soda per 8 fl. oz. water), with the addition of one level teaspoon of iodized table salt -- the intention was to find if a) salt would decrease grain in the absence of high concentrations of sulfite (a la original Microdol), and b) whether the tiny level of iodide might act as an antifoggant. I can't say for certain on antifoggant properties, but I can say I probably won't repeat the Caffenol Plus again soon. I can also say that, as far as I'm able to measure with uncalibrated densitometry on my scanner, there is no imagewise staining in Caffenol Plus (still haven't had time to revisit my first Caffenol negatives to see if the ones without salt do or don't); while the blue shows consistently higher density than green, which is denser than red, there is no change at all in the shape of the curves, and what I see is (I think) consistent with the color of the general stain from tannins in the coffee. In addition, the background stain was uneven this time, despite identical agitation and a time that varied only by a correction for lower temperature (35 minutes at 68 F instead of the original 30 minutes at 72 F), this roll shows a soft-edged band of reduced stain, lengthwise along the roll, oriented toward what I believe to have been tank top (I'm not certain, because I had the negatives dried and cut before I noticed it -- it's subtle enough to be hard to see naked eye, but shows clearly in scans). There is also no apparent reduction in grain with the addition of salt, though in all honesty, my 2400 ppi maximum scan resolution is probably not fine enough to show a real difference even on old TX. Overall tonality and sharpness seem identical -- meaning there's no apparent advantage to adding salt to Caffenol, and some reason (uneven staining) not to. I also noted a very, very odd phenomenon. I had to scan the negatives as color and extract the red color channel in order to filter out the uneven staining on the worst of the negatives -- and in the process, I saw, over and over, images that looked almost like perfectly ordinary color photos. This seems to be due to the different densities in the three color channels, combined with the color correction in the scanner software to take out the orange base in genuine color negatives; in any case, depending on lighting, I saw a number of images (before separating colors) that seemed quite natural. The effect must be more akin to a hand colored photograph -- an appearance of natural color gradation fostered by color overlaying a gray scale image. Still, in a couple cases it was uncanny...
  2. Curious. Looks like you've discovered your own "handmade" look. It's got potential.
  3. Looks really really good.
    Did you just invert the negative?
    changed any of the channels?
  4. Pablo, I just put the negative in the 35 mm strip holder in my scanner, set the scanner for "color negative" and registered a film type from a piece of developed but unexposed leader (I did that after seeing the curves, thinking it would smooth out the differences between red, green, blue channels), then scanned. For most of the roll, I then decomposed/separated the resulted positive (inverted by the scanner software) and chose the color channel that didn't show the light band from the area of thinner stain, and/or the one with the correct exposure/contrast (it was harder to select the right settings because the software doesn't let me control the three channels individually in negative mode, though I could have done if scanning as a slide), to be saved as a grayscale file. In a couple cases, though, the effect was so striking I went ahead and saved the "color" file as well as the separated color channel.

    The full frame from which I cropped the attachment was probably the best -- texture and color that, given the light, would have been quite unremarkable in a Portra 160 NC scan, even to a blue blanket showing as blue while skin tone showed the proper shades and gradations of peach. The other shots on that roll with skin tones aren't as good; underexposure tends to turn the shot green to cyan with this setup, while overexposures go yellow to pink.

    Sure would be nice to try a nice studio nude shoot with this, though, perhaps in medium format -- unfortunately, a) I can't afford a model, and b) my wife would throw a fit (and generally won't pose for me herself).
  5. Cool!
    Looks like a lith print in warmtone paper......

    As I said I developed 120 in caffenol/plus and can't scan it so I'll shoot/develop some 35 this weekend (I'm going to Williamsburg VA)
  6. Williamsburg, VA you say? If you see any of the musicians, ask if they remember Pat Gainer, the crazy oboe player who also took pictures. I played in the Candle Light Concerts at the Governor's Palace from time to time and also at Bruton Parish Church.
  7. Yes sire,
    Williamsburg VA was my destination this weekend.

    I took a couple of rolls of Silvertone400 (Old APX400) but had my 18month old baby running circles around me, so couldn;t talk to the musicians.

    Anyway, Caffenol seems to do a great job with the old APX400, will scan negs sometime this week.
  8. I had a bad experience last night.
    I prepared my caffenol using hot water (about 40C - 100F) and developed with the hot liquid.

    The negatives came out THIN adn the stain is very very strong
    I can barely see any image with my eyes. Will scan later today to see if the scanner can see something.

    I used: 12 oz water, 5 tsp coffe, 3 heap tsp wash soda
    Developed @40C for about 25 minutes
  9. Moreover, I tried scanning the negs to see any details, there are some, but it is so dim that my scanner can;t figure anything but shadows.

    I guess APX400 (35mm) is not good firends with caffenol
  10. I had a bad experience last night. I prepared my caffenol using hot water (about 40C - 100F) and developed with the hot liquid.
    The negatives came out THIN adn the stain is very very strong I can barely see any image with my eyes. Will scan later today to see if the scanner can see something.
    I used: 12 oz water, 5 tsp coffe, 3 heap tsp wash soda Developed @40C for about 25 minutes.

    First thing I see is that you used less coffee, proportionally, and more soda; expanding the original recipe to 12 ounces of water would give 6 slightly rounded tsp. of coffee, and 3 level tsp. of soda; the result is more or less what I'd expect from reducing the developing agent and increasing the alkali -- a low contrast negative. You still had enough coffee to produce a strong general stain, it sounds like, but not enough to produce a normal contrast range with common film.
    I'd be inclined to try the APX 400 again with the original proportions in the developer, mixed at room temperature. I can't help thinking that the high temperature made things worse in some ways (though it should have been like developing for 40 minutes at room temperature). It also seems to me that APX films normally require longer development than Tri-X, though I don't have times in front of me at the moment -- I'd check times for APX 400 against Tri-X in a couple developers; if it's 50% longer in D-76, it'll probably be 50% longer in Caffenol even with the correct amount of coffee.
  11. good point Don, I'll finish a roll this weekend and test again.

    My guess is that at high temps the tannins staing the gelatin more than the silver itself
    I know APX is slower in developing, that's why I used 25 min @40C, which should be equal to 1h @ 20C
  12. I tested APX400 again (Silvertone) just a few pics devloped in
    12 oz water, 6 tsp coffee, 3 tsp wash soda
    Room temp (70F) for 45 minutes agitating every minute

    Same results, thin pictures with no definition and a lot of stain.... I won;t try this on APX again.

    I finally ordered a 100' roll of 400 so I;ll test again when i get that forte film

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