Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fujica Half 1.9 - Caffenol - First Scans

As previously announced, the only thing to wait for was the film to dry.

Half frame cameras seem not to be known to today's scanner manufacturers... the scanner software insisted in scanning 135 film full frames.
The following images are results of scanning the negatives with an Epson Perfection V370 Photo.
Resolution 4800 dpi at 16-bit grayscale. The scanner's software does some automatic settings, which I reset in order to have a linear scan.

as output by the scanner - scaled using the GIMP

some adjustments in LR - scaled using the GIMP
Not sure how accurate the first image reflects the scan, since the GIMP converted from 16-bit to 8-bit.
When I look at the actual negatives, they seem perfectly fine for dark room printing, just like the films I developed previously using commercial film developers.

Interesting about half-frame cameras, one tends to pay more attention to portrait shots, which is an interesting experience. Before I obtained this camera, most of my photos were horizonticals, i.e. landscape shots.

Concerning the camera, I would like to point towards this link: "Fujica Half 1.9". The one that I got has a broken light meter, no problem thanks to the full manual control.

In the course of time, I might write some more about the camera. Next plan: shoot a C41 film and have it professionally developed... let's check the chromatic qualities of the f/1.9 lens.

Caffenol-CM(RS) for Jobo 1510 Tanks

That's more a note to myself than any tutorial or recipe. However, the post should contain enough information to just follow what I did, if you want to try it yourself.

My recent acquisition, a Fujica half 1.9 was used to expose a Fomapan 100 b&w-negative film. The film was exposed too ISO 100. The film is currently drying, I will show scan/prints in future posts, stay tuned.

I do actually not claim the following recipe, I adopted Jon Caradies' volumetric version of caffenol (see "The Caffenol Cookbook") to volumes to work with the 240ml Jobo 1510 developing tank.

Something important about volumetric gauges, such as TBSP or TSP. Although TBSP bears the meaning of "table spoon", while TSP would refer to "tea spoon", such measures are actually referring to small hemispherical measuring devices and not to actual table or tea spoons. The actual spoons may vary in volume, so, please don't use those as a reference. For more info, check wikipedia.

The following happened at July room temperature (26°C).

Here it comes, 2 vessels required:
  • dissolves 2 TSP of washing soda in 100ml of water
  • add ¾ (3 quarter) TSP of vitamine-C to the washing soda solution
  • dissolve 2½ (5 half) TSP of (cheap) instant coffee crystals in 140ml of water
  • => wait until dissolved or bubbling stopped
  • pour the coffee solution slowly into the soda/vit-C solution
  • add ¼ TSP of iodized table salt
  • => wait for at least 5min, or activity stopped (no more froth)

  • Soak film in room-temp water for 5 min.  
  • Developing for 13min, 10 inversions during the begin of the first minute, 3 inversions at the begin of every other minute.
  • Stopping by 3× rinsing with room-temp water.
  • Fixing using Ilford Rapid 1+4 for 3min.
  • Washing according to the Ilford scheme:
    • 1 inversion - flush
    • 5 inversions - flush
    • 10 inversions - flush
    • 20 inversions - flush
    • 40 inversions - add some dish-washing agent - rest for some minutes - flush
  • Hang to dry.

I previously developed films in caffenol and was surprised by the quality. However, all previous attempts were using C41 color negative films.
The film that hangs drying has got 82 photos on it, yep, I got 10 more exposures as one would expect from a half-frame camera... and the negatives look amazing!
This was the first time in decades I developed a b&w-negative film. I loved to do this when I was a teenager. It seems I rediscovered this love.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chardonnol - Chardonnay as Developer

What gave me that idea?!
Well, very simple, Dirk posted a very interesting article (and video) about developing photo-sensitive paper with red wine and some other stuff.
Have a look:

This inspired me to research a bit myself, which brought me to this page:
Interesting! It seem that chardonnay actually produces the most caffeic acid. Now you know why this white wine always caused you problems!
Don't drink it! Use it as developer!
Some more interesting reading on the topic can be found here:

Right, let's go to my first ever experiment using chardonnay as developer:


  • 0.5l cheap Chardonnay
  • 3/4 tea spoon ascorbic acid => measured pH 4
  • 2 tea spoons washing soda => measure pH > 11 (maybe 1.5 tea spoons washing soda will be better)
The soup was brown by now.

X-pro development

I developed a regularly exposed Agfa vista plus ISO 200 (C41 color negative film) for 16 minutes in a Jobo Universaltank 160 Mod.4.
Agitation during the initial 30 secs, than every first 10 secs of a minute.
The result was very very faint, somewhat like the experiment I did with Caffenol-STD and a 10 minutes development (see previous post).
Here is a high contrast frame (dust in the darkroom, dust on the scanner, I even seemed to have managed to scratch the film). One image reflects the file that my Epson V370 produced, the other image was a result of playing with curves in the GIMP.

scan as created by the scanning
curves adjusted using the GIMP

Unlike with the under-developed example shown in the previous post, I was unable to recover any color information from the negative. Maybe the development was even too short for this.

I figure, Chardonnol would be a very good developer for stand development, in particular seen the fine grain it produces. Will try 45min with this recipe next.

Here is another example, low contrast now:
as scanned
curves, brightness and contrast adjusted

This time, I operated at the very limits of image reconstruction. I guess, the vertical lines are actually inside the film material, now visible due to the enormous push by the scanning software and my GIMPing.

Printing those frames (by means of an enlarger) could be a challenge. Asks for grade 5 paper, I guess.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Goin' Chemical Again!

Yep, that's write, I am all over with digital (well, sort of) and getting back to photography as I learned it: nasty smells in the darkroom!

Returning from my home-leave, I brought my good old dark-room stuff to my expat-home. Meaning, not only my very own enlarger made the trip, also the developer tank my father used in his youth.

You may ask yourself what is going on! The guy just bought tons of digital gear and now he's talking chemical?!
Right! I caught myself in some sort of nebula myself.

Digital is OK... you take the shot, and process it by means of a software of your liking.
However, were is the soul? The soul of photography, which lives somewhere between the hope of having the shot and the hope of actually getting it (by developing and printing your exposure).

Maybe I am all romantic, dreaming the past... Never the less, having my darkroom stuff around me triggered some experiments.

I bought a couple of disposable cameras. It seems that both came from a "bad" batch, since the base side was badly scratched, as you will see in a sec.

To experiment, I exposed the ISO 400 C41 color films under various situations.  At the end, I developed 1 film for 16min and the other one for 10min.

Cross-processing C41 film in a B&W manner should be done in about 15min, according to the interwebs. My 16min development results is usable negatives (although I have not yet tried to print any of those with my enlarger.
The interesting part comes along with the under-developed C41-film.

This film was developed in Caffenol and later scanned with an Epson V370. From the cross-processed neg, the scanner recovered the color green...

caffenol x-processed color neg
Today I tried to X-develop a film in a mixture of Chardonnay, Vit-C and Soda... One thing is for sure, the negs are not as dark... however, I am not sure if the film developed enough... It's drying now, lets hope for the best,

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Calibrate Your Screen!

Yep, we had that topic before, i.e. using the tools provided by operating system, see post here.
Of course, this is just a start. Despite those methods work pretty well concerning the gamma calibration of your screen, getting the gamut (color space) and white balance right is near impossible.
However, if your are serious about your photography, I actually want to work with a screen that displays colors as good as possible. Right, when doing B&W only, this is probably not of your concern.

Available gadgets
There are a couple of different gadgets on the market, which help you calibrating your screen.  For convenience, i.e. my local photo store, to which I can cycle in just about 10min, had a Datacolor Spyder4Express, which I obtained for a little less than €90. In fact, the Spyder4Express actually does the calibration for me, fully automatically.

Problems may occur!
Sounds all brilliant and easy, but, you will be disappointed at first. You may even consider returning the device claiming warranty for a defective unit. To prevent you from arriving at such considerations, I would like to share a few experiences I had with the device. I will also try to explain a little bit why things happen, when they happen. Although those experiences are based on the Datacolor Spyder4, other devices of similar nature may show similar effects.

Position on the screen
The Spyder4 is supposed to sit snug on you screens surface, so that no light can fall onto its dedicated color sensors. To allow for this position, a counterweight is fit on the USB cord. This weight can be repositioned along the cable.
  • Try to slowly track it into the position which fits your screen best. Apply minimum force possible, after all, you don't want to rip the USB cable apart.
Angle of the screen
In the good old times, monitors were big chunks of roundish glass, making in easy for whatever one dangles in front of it, to make good contact with the bulgy glass surface. However, those days are gone, and so are the rounded surfaces of computer monitors. Today, one owns a very flat bit of (mostly) plastic surface, which sits recessed in a frame of more plastic. Meaning, that in a normal operating position, a device, such as the Spyder4, will not be able to touch the surface in the intended manner.
  • Tilt your screen upwards, as far as needed (or a little more). This allow the color calibration gadget to actually reach the screen's surface.
Stray light
Datacolor, and other probably too, warns about light falling directly onto the screen during calibration. While this is a nice move, it seems to rather pointing back in time, when the display light was actually generated by a beam of electrons hitting a phosphorous layer at the inner surface of the goldfish bowl. We came to the conclusion that those days are over, right?
So, what is wrong with the advice? It is by far insufficient to not point a light source onto the screen during calibration.
Here is why: modern displays employ light guides, to guide white light (from the screen's light source) to individual cells containing liquid crystal materials. Although not intended to, some minimal amount of ambient light may be collected by the monitors surface, to be re-emitted through the screen, interfering with the calibration run. This actually happened to my. Different color if indirect ambient light resulted in different calibrations.
  • Darken the room in which you calibrate your monitor before doing so!
Green cast
This is reported on the interwebs, and it hit me too. I figure, the problem is caused by 2 factors: 1) ambient light interference and 2) angle of view when using the screen.
Concerning the first point, see the stray light problem. Now imagine that you calibrate your screen in your study, normal dim lights around you, e.g. incandescent bulbs... this is warm light, the calibration process pics up traces of that light an corrects for by shifting towards green.  Try the following: set your digital camera to a white balance for incandescent light and take a photo in bright sunlight... it will be green!
Concerning the second point, the calibrated monitor forces you to stare at it at the angle of calibration. Why is that? In the good old days, having your goldfish bowl on your desk, any individual pixel radiated the same color into any direction, nothing was polarized. Today's screens, however, are entirely based on polarized optics. Polarization is a tricky thing to deal with, hence, I will not go any deeper into the whys and what photons do anyway. Instead I wish to invite you to do a quick experiment: create a white surface on your screen, e.g. by starting a text processor, now look at the screen at various angles from above and below. I am using a relatively inexpensive PHILIPS LC-display, on which I can observe a shift from whit to green, when looking at the screen from below, and a shift from white towards blue/violet, when looking from above. BTW: right-left, on my screen at least, creates a red color cast. Back to the color calibration gadgets, those are designed to measure the emissions of the screen exactly perpendicular to the screen's surface thereby defining the angle in which the screen emits the correct colors.
  • Position your screen such that you look at it at an angle of 90˚.
It seems that a slight blue cast is more acceptable than a green cast, at least to me that is. Interestingly enough, all calibrations I have done so far seem to shift away from blue. I guess manufacturers want to avoid costumers to complain about greenish displays and therefore shift their color space towards blue.

All in all, I believe everyone working with visual content should calibrate their displays. Consumer level gadget are really inexpensive, seen what can be achieved... definitely worth their money.