March 16, 2011


Coffee and vitamin C. Good for a burst of energy and good health. But who knew that these two ingredients could also be used to develop film? It may sound a bit like science fiction, but surprisingly enough, it really works.

Developing film in a coffee mixture called caffenol can be done right at home. And it actually wasn't too complicated. A daylight developing tank, a roll of film, the coffee and vitamin C, plus some water, sodium carbonate, and dish soap is all it took. It's cheaper than having film developed, and it's more rewarding, too.

Not to mention completely thrilling. I felt a bit like an alchemist, and my good friend/film-developing partner in crime and I couldn't wait to check the film once all the solutions had been run through the tank and the film was rinsed.

We opened the developing tanks and felt like kids on Christmas morning - there were images on the film. Yess!

Most of my photos look best and brightest along the edges, where they're also a pleasant shade of coffee brown. The middle of many images is darker and a bit more blue-grayish, I'm guessing because the developing solution didn't flow over those areas as freely. I'll have to experiment with how much I agitate the tank while developing.

I'm hooked on developing film with caffenol — I didn't think I would have that much fun with it, but I really enjoyed it!

I used my Olympus Stylus camera to take these photos. I found the camera in a box at Christmas, together with photos and various college mementos. I haven't thought much about the camera in the past 10 years, but now that I've rediscovered it, I plan on using it much more.

Lynnhaven Marina

This was round 1 with caffenol. I'm sure there will be more to come!

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