Friday, April 3, 2009

Coffee + Photography

Last week Amy found this article describing caffenol, a photographic film/paper developer made from groceries. Specifically, it is water, instant coffee, washing soda, and vitamin C. Apparently the caffeic acid in the coffee reacts with the silver halides to develop the black and white image. I think this is great, because there is nothing particularly toxic in the mixture, meaning that it can be disposed of down the sink. And it's also cheap, especially in NZ, where 500 mL of developer costs $25.

Amy, Sarah and I went out last weekend to do some tests. The first shot at the right is an awesome photo Amy took with an old Pentax camera loaded with el-cheapo Fomapan 100 film (still $7 per roll), developed with caffenol C and digitized with my digital camera.

We also shot a resolution test chart. Check out the original resolution image. You'll see that the resolution of the developed film is better than my 8 megapixel digital camera's.

Thanks to kind donation of some very expired litho film (from the 1960s) by Dr Bold, I was also able to shoot some large-ish format pinhole photos. These were made with a pinhole camera made out of black foam-core board with a pinhole poked in a piece of aluminum from a drink can. What you see here is an inverted digital photo of the developed film. I haven't quite perfected the development, so there are some streaks.

The final image is a pinhole photo using the 35 mm Fomapan film. Both pinhole films where also developed using caffenol C.

There are lots of more photos at Amy's and my flickr pages.