Greetings from merry England, folks!
You know, I get many, many emails from readers complaining that they either can’t get the right chemicals for processing their own films, or chemicals are too expensive, or more commonly, they just cannot buy any in their particular country.
That’s a sad state of affairs. I know lots of my readers live in what we all euphemistically call the 3rd world…places like Africa, some places in India, Mongolia etc…you get the idea.
And therein lies the conundrum….it’s from places like those that our staunchest followers come from, as they not only prefer film, but more to the point, they just cannot afford to go digital.
Without these guys, film usage could drop to an all-time low. Furthermore, it’s really frustrating that some countries don’t allow photographic chemicals to be shipped in the postal system, for obvious reasons. As a supplier, that creates headaches for me too…I often ship darkroom chemicals to far away places…Morroco, New Zealand, Fiji are some that I have shipped to….but either by some quirk of the postal systems or by sheer chance, those products have gotten through and delivered ok!
On some occasions, delivery has been refused. So it’s a catch-22 situation really, with the end-user caught out as a result. Must admit though, that the number of non-deliveries is fairly low…I’d say out of 10 shipments, 1 or 2 get impounded.
So anyways, I’ve been talking to my friend here in England (he of the subminiature 16mm cameras!), and he explained an easy system of processing monochrome films at home, without darkroom chemicals…no, I’m not pulling your leg, mate..as they say here!
In short, he uses just 2 items, which are in your kitchen right now most probably…..coffee and washing soda!
That’s all he uses! He explained it all in layman’s terms…with film processing, there are 2 main essentials you need to carry it out…what he describes as a developing agent and an activator…in our case, the developing agent will be coffee and the activator will be washing soda.
If you’re still with me and want to try, here’s the complete recipe for you:
To make around 250ml of developing liquid, you will need:
230ml (8oz) of water
4 teaspoons full of coffee granules (proper coffee, not decaff)
2 teaspoons of washing soda
Mix the measured products together thoroughly
Load your film into your developing tank
Pour the mixture into the tank; develop for 25 mins, agitating every 30 secs or so
After the 25 mins developing time, pour in clean water 4 or 5 times….the process is done…easy as 123!
The mixture above is good for 1 roll of 35mm or 120 film…beacuse it is rather an unstable concoction, it will degrade quite quickly, so not really worth storing it…it’s dirt cheap to make anyway.
However, please don’t all rush out and mix up your solutions to dunk your precious films into…there is a certain amount of experimenting involved too, as you have to try to determine yourself, the exact amount and mix of the chemicals and development time required for our particular film..did I say it was as easy as 123?
The mix above has been tested with Ilford HP5 film shot at ISO 100.
There we go, folks! If you just cannot get your hands on the proper chemicals, use this method…rather this than just sit and cry your eyes out, eh?
for ease of reference, this article has also been posted under the Very Useful Links tab on the main front page of this blog….