Tag Archives: caffenol

Caffenol Stand Development

Stand development, or developing film without agitation by just letting it “stand” is generally considered a foolproof (and lazy) way to fully develop film without worring too much about blowing highlights. Caffenol works well for stand development and is one of my favourites.  Below is the recipe I use.

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Caffenol Stand – makes 50oml

  1. 500 ml fresh water (I use filtered tap water)
  2. 8g washing soda
  3. 5g Vitamin C powder
  4. 0.5g Kbr (Pot. Bromide) to restrict fogging, too much will restrict development as well..
  5. 20g instant coffee

Equipment needed: A thermometer, a scale, and a mixing container (don’t use your significant other’s ice coffee/tea pitcher).

Add in the order listed mixing well at each addition and let coffee bubbles settle before adding to film tank.  Presoak film for 5 minutes. 10 gentle turns to start then 60 minutes stand @20 degrees C for any film shot at box speed (I dont worry about the temperature too much after I start unless it is mid summer and it might rise more than a couple degrees over the course of the development).

Pushing and pulling, toing and froing..

You can push film one stop by simply increasing the development time out to 70 minutes and maybe adding another 10 sec agitation the second minute. Another stop increase the time a bit more and add a couple turns agitation as follows: 1 min, 2 min, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 (this is called Semi Stand).  I might reduce time to around 45-50 minutes for Kentmere or Acros shot at 80 or less.. Experiment to find out what works best for you. The interesting thing is in my unscientific opinion I don’t think there is anything gained really by pulling the film when you are using Caffenol in terms of grain at least.

I have really gotten a lot of enjoyment out of Caffenol.  It works well for push processing so I like to use it with Acros shot at 200 or 400 since Tri-x is so expensive over here in Japan.

The above recipe is from Rhinehold’s site one of the innovators and responsible for a lot of great research given free to all of us- fantastic resource!  Also check out the Caffenol Cookbook for some inspiration!

 

morning plant

Just before dawn, Tri-x ei1600 / Caffenol semi stand 85 minutes

This frame captured the early morning peace and solitude I felt when I awoke early and finished off the roll so I could start developing.  A handheld snap really, possible due to the iso of 1600.  Sometimes the discounted frames taken towards the end of the roll hold something when you happen to look at them a few months later.

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The Heart Sees Deeper Than The Eye

What do you call those little bits of paper that they attach to teabags so that you can easily grab onto the string or wrap the string around the finger handle of your teacup?  The paper doohickey?  Yes that’s the one.  Well, I have one (from Yogi Tea) that has been on my refrigerator now for around 8 or 9 years that says, “The heart sees deeper than the eye”.  That is a keeper.  All that wisdom for only around 20 cents:-)

I think this relates to photography in that we shouldn’t get too hung up on rules and should let our heart tell us what and how we photograph. In other situations, take advertising or a con artist for example, we can be distracted by flashy talk and promises, yet if you give your heart a chance it can tell you when something is not right.

Angel

Angel, Yokohama Japan.  M3 / Summaron 35 f2.8 / Tri-x (ei 1600) / Caffenol semi stand 85min@20c.

Coming home late from a function one night I almost walked past this angel standing in the cold in front of an izakaya (Japanese old style family restaurant).  The old black and white photographs of ships behind her add an interesting element, along with someone’s bag draped over her head, and the whole thing looked very peaceful to me. Well.. I only had had a couple drinks (I said as I held up 3 fingers)..

In comparison to some HP5+ I had shot also at 1600 and developed at the same time in the identical caffenol stand recipe I thought I noticed what I thought to be a bit more grain in the HP5+, however after looking a bit more closely they seem pretty similar.

Below is a frame I took with some HP5+ at 1600.

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Morning bullet train, somewhere between Yokohama and Nagoya. M3 / Summaron 35 f2.8 / HP5+ (ei 1600) / Caffenol semi stand 85min@20c.

These are full size crops of the scans of each (at 2400). Not much in it.  Both are good considering the two stop push and the type of film I think. I would have to scan at a higher resolution to get a definitive answer.. Technically I suppose I would have to ensure both were the same exposure and the area compared of similar density but I don’t intend to get that technical about this stuff.

Best!

Jordi

Perspective

YK Cemetary

Ilford HP5+ (ei1600) / Caffenol stand developed / Summaron f2.8 35mm / Leica M3

This shot was taken as the sun was going down over Yokohama.  Perhaps I should have saved this for Halloween, but I took it only a month or so ago so decided not to wait.  I like the similarity of the structures in this scene as well as its symbolic contrast.

My M3 had been languishing due to my preference for the smaller, lighter and simpler screw mount lllf, however I don’t have a 35mm for the screw mount and really like that focal length so have been using the M3 a bit more recently.

I guess it doesn’t need to be said, but the M3 really is a great camera in every way.  I think the large, bright view finder is its best attribute.  Like all older Leicas it is built so well and looks so nice that you just feel good using it.  Call it Leica therapy.  They may be a bit expensive but are still a lot cheaper than a therapist:-)  The M3 is so nice you could carry it around just to hold and show people (and some people do just that..).

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Perspectives on Death

The West has such a dark and dismal approach to death- cold and lonely for all eternity, the worms nibbling at our flesh, etc.  While I enjoy the gothic Edgar Allen Poe flavour of it in stories, Halloween and whatnot, I don’t subscribe to it at all in my personal philosophy.

We cling to life and fear death, which is referred to as attachment in Zen, but as I understand it they compliment each other a bit like night and day. Without night you do not have day and vice versa, like yin and yang or the tides of the ocean.  If we are not attached to living so much I think we can enjoy it more.

In the last few months 3 people in my family have passed on.  My daughter was also in the hospital for a week with bad bronchitis and asthma.  This has caused me to reflect perhaps a bit more deeply about life recently.

 

“The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither colour nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.”

~ Tokushou Bassui (1327-1387) in a letter to a dying disciple

 

 

 

Straw Sandals / 藁草履 (warazori) – A sustainable alternative to modern footwear?

There is a crisis happening today all around us. It is called modern footwear.  Every time I walk past a “shoe mart” I can’t help stifling a yawn.  If by modern we mean, cheap, unsustainable, and boring, then yes, “modern”.  There hasn’t been anything really modern happening with today’s shoes since Nike’s waffle iron tread in 1974.  That’s 41 years folks!  41 years of rehashing the same tired theme with the same old nylon, polyester, and plastic fantastic.  41 years of filling up the landfills and lakes, rivers and oceans, backyards and basements, with non biodegradable, petroleum derivatives. Does it matter that they are made in Indonesia, Vietnam, China, or Bangladesh in working and pay conditions that were outlawed in the United States around 100 years ago? Nope, just give me cheap and lots of it.

The solution is Waraji and Warazori.  Warawhatyousay?

Waraji and warazori are straw sandals that were commonly used in Japan from about 2,000 years ago up through the Meiji Period, or around 100 years ago, though in some rural areas people continued wearing them much later. I understand some buddhist monks continue to wear them even today.

The difference between waraji and warazori is the former has bindings securing the sandal up to the ankle/lower leg making them suitable for everyday work and travel, whereas the latter are just like flip flops, or beach sandals so are better for more casual use.

Here are a couple pictures of some wara (straw) and warazori (straw sandals), taken with the Agfa Isolette lll, Acros (at ei400), and semi stand developed in Caffenol.

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There is a pair of 500kg (1,200 lb), 4.5 meter long Owaraji (O meaning big) hanging at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. How big would the giant that wore those be?!

Now for the upsides and downsides..

The down sides:

  • they don’t last as long as today’s plastic fantastic shoes
  • your feet will get wet when it rains
  • goats might like them and follow you around

The upsides:

  • They don’t last as long as today’s plastic fantastic shoes.  Everything is biodegradable – you won’t find them still in the soil or floating around in the Pacific Trash Vortex in 100 years time
  • They are made from 100% sustainable materials
  • Tried and tested- they have been used for nearly 2,000 years
  • They look cool

Ok, looks like the upsides win, let’s get out there and start wearing waraji!  Well, I haven’t tried them for any length of time yet so cannot hand on heart recommend them to you yet, but I will be on the lookout for some so that I can do some proper testing and report back to you:-)

You can see some being made on youtube here.  Pretty cool I think.

Best!

Jordi

PS. Anyone interested in a very good look at our use of 3rd world labour should watch this documentary by legendary journalist John Pilger.

60+ years and still going strong

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This camera works so well in every way, it is hard to imagine that its original design by Oskar Barnack is more than 80 years old.  It is solid, well made, and feels good in the hand.  When you press the shutter button a beautiful sound resonates, not too loud, not too quiet, full of self assured confidence, as if to say, “This is going to be a damn fine photo.” My camera was made in the early 50’s so it has been around 60 years or so,  however I think it will easily be taking photos for someone in another 60 years.

I don’t think there is much in the camera world that came since that can beat it for what it was designed to do. Later Leica’s and slr’s were all larger.  Smaller cameras pretty well scrimped in some way or were not offered in full manual.  Oskar Barnack was apparently an outdoors enthusiast, but also an asthmatic, so he wanted to design something compact and light enough to easily carry on hikes, but with lens quality sufficient to handle enlargements to a decent size (at that time large format cameras were the standard, and a medium format size was considered a minimum requirement for quality photographs).  

If it is good enough for Henri..  This camera was a favorite of Henri Cartier-Bresson. When talking photos of people on the street, he would walk cupping it hidden in his hand so as not to bring attention to himself, bringing it up for a photo at just the right moment. The “decisive moment”.  He also used the M series Leicas later, but in one interview I saw he said he preferred he older barrack because of its perfect size.

Yeah, you have to focus, figure the exposure, wind with a knob, use a separate viewfinder for lenses other than 50mm.  Loading film does take an extra minute.  In other words you have to be a photographer. Luckily it becomes second nature with just a bit of practice.

The other day I was was enjoying a stroll through a popular park and I saw someone walking through with his “deji kame” (digital camera in Japanese) firing bursts of around 20 frames at each “subject” as he walked through, barely stopping for the time that it took to do that and a good portion of that time was looking at the screen afterwards (maybe 5 seconds?). He must have had thousands of near identical frames of “stuff” on that camera.   I could rant about this kind of person, but hey, to each their own. Well, the “Leica Barnack” (as they call them in Japan) is not for doing that kind of thing, obviously:-)

I have only 3 lenses for it, a f2.0/50 Summitar, an Elmar 4/90 and a 4/135.  Leitz glass is all you need to say. They are all great lenses, however I mainly just use the Summitar, which is collapsable making the camera more pocketable. 

Looking through what I’ve taken in the last couple years I can see that I have used this camera more than my others.

Here are a couple I took with it last weekend walking in the early morning near my house in Yokohama.  These are with Acros at ei400, semi stand developed with Caffenol (75min/20c) in my kitchen sink.

Best!

Jordi

Izu Road Trip- or now better known as, the “How much longer?”, and “Not yet??” Trip

We recently took a road trip down to the Izu Peninsula, which is a beautiful place about 180km from Yokohama in Shizuoka Prefecture.  It took about 4 hours by car but for the kids it must have felt like 4 days I imagine since all I heard from them was “when are we gonna get there?”, and “how much longer?”…”Not yet??”. It reminded me of that scene in that Shrek movie with Donkey, Shrek and the Princess on the journey to Never Never Land.  No Donkey!  NO!!  Well, it didn’t help I suppose that I stopped a couple times to take photos along the way.  Ok, it was a couple dozen times.. Izu has a lot of old wood houses and shrines, and I can’t seem to go past them without taking a picture.

Japan has some fantastically beautiful places, sometimes right in the ordinary.

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Shrine near Shimoda. Nikko 24mm / HP5+

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Old farmstead, Izu.  Olympus 35sp / Acros

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The beach, finally! Macro Nikkor 55mm / HP5+

farm implement

Farm Implement, Shimoda. Macro Nikkor 55mm / HP5+

How do you like dem unyuns?!

How do you like dem onions? Pool table at Ernest House, inn near Shimoda. 35SP / Superia converted to BW.

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Photographer trap, Izu. Rolleicord V / Fomapan 100

bus stop izu

Bus Stop, Izu. Rolleicord V / Fomapan 100

How a Kentmere whim, Abenomics, dismay and fear ultimately led to bulk film goodness

I like this film.

The first time I tried it I had bought it on a whim. It was a bit cheaper than Delta or FP4 so thought why not? I made a few snaps here and there, developed it in d-76 and really liked the look of it. Nice tonality I thought.  Then a few months later I tried it again and developed it in Caffenol and I thought it came out even better.  Bonus! Could be the placebo effect I suppose….Whatever the reason I’ll still take it.

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Old school mechanic- Blue Groove Kamakura . Leica lllf / Summitar 5cm f2.0 / Kentmere 100 / D-76 IMG_20150207_0008 Edge of bamboo thicket (竹林), Chiba-ken. Leica lllf / Elmar 9cm f3.5 / Kentmere / Caffenol C-CL 70m20c IMG_20150207_0028 Tunnel, near Honmoku. Leica lllf / Summitar 5cm f2.0 / Kentmere / Caffenol C-CL 70m20c IMG_20150207_0030 Volkswagen with “character”, Yamate. Leica lllf / Summitar 5cm f2.0 / Kentmere / Caffenol C-CL 70m20c IMG_20150207_0025 Abandoned house, Yamate. Leica lllf / Summitar 5cm f2.0 / Kentmere / Caffenol C-CL 70m20c The negs were a slightly thicker than I like so I think I could reduce development time to 60min. Well, I was a bit dismayed when last week I went into Yodobashi Camera to stock up on film again only to discover everything except Fuji had doubled in price. What used to cost ¥520/roll is now over ¥1,000! A large part I imagine due to the devalued yen vs USD and GBP.  Thank you Abenomics.  I then resigned myself to months of using Acros, and Acros is a fine film which I like very well, but it would be a bit like eating spaghetti, or perhaps more aptly Ramen, everyday for months or years until the yen comes back. That thought spurred me onto the net where I purchased some bulk rolls of Kentmere, Arista Edu Ultra, and HP5+ from the US.  Slightly more effort but I estimate it will cut costs by 70%. Back in the game! Jordi