Monday, July 30, 2012

Is hair dye just a myth?

I have never seen good color photos developed with hair dye, but I still believe there may be a way to develop color film with hair dye in a decent look. I am still experimenting on this. But one thing is clear for me now, you may develop B&W filme with hair dye. Just shoot a normal B&W film and develop it in the following solution:

5 ml of professional hair dye containing p-phenilenediamine derivative
3 g of Sodium Hydroxide
water to make 500 ml
Develop at room temperature for 30 minutes. The first time you use it you will get a film looking underdeveloped but scannable. And, with some tweaking in software, I use Photoscape and sometimes GIMP 2.6, you may get acceptable pictures like this one, fine grain, but not very rich in contrast, already enhanced in the picture.

A house in the prairie
I suppose that next time you use the developer it will give a better result with B&W film. I read somewhere that hair dye needs to be aged in order to give good results, also with color. So, I decided to use this with color film and see. Maybe the good results I had before were just because the hair dye was naturally aged at the shelf. So, with this same developer used once to develop a B&W film, I tried with a piece of color film. I am approaching the expected result but still very thin. It does develop image that you can see by reflexion as positive but not very good scannable. Here is a direct scan, as it comes, no tweaks in software:

Color film developed with hair dye used once
I expect that next time I will get better results because the developer is becaming older now. This may be the key to success.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hair dye as developer II

After some disasters with hair dye and a recipe I was experimenting, I putted the hair dye in stand-by. Recently I decide to make further experiments and the first thing I did was to test if hair dye is a B&W developer. The answer was clear, I could develop a B&W film with it adding Sodium Hydroxide to the hair dye and water of course.

After that, I started with color film! The first results were very strange, I was getting a positive image instead of negative. People listening and assisting to my posts in Flickr suggest the fixer may be exhausted and that can give solarization and semi-reversal and what I am getting is just a bad developed C-41 film. So, the next I will prepare a new fixer and use it to see, maybe tomorrow. This fixer I am using is not that old but it is for sure contaminated because between developer and fixer I just rinse 3 times but some developer is still on film.

The entire 36 exp. film in one scan reflexive
First from left in the lowest row

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hair dye as a B&W developer!

People who read my blog, knows that I already tried to develop color negative film with hair dye. For some reason I couldn't stablish a well proven recipe that works always the same way. After some success and failures, I could develop film with some vestiges of color but not realy, look here.

Now, I am trying to restart experimenting with hair dye because there is a lot of developers in the ingredients. If you have derivatives of p-Aminophenol or p-Phenilenediamine then it must work. Because color developers are also silver developers, I had the idea of experimenting only hair dye and an alkali and see if it works for B&W negative film. In fact, it does, the result was weak but I am sure now that hair dye is a potential candidate to film color development, it contains realy substances that develop silver and perhaps color.

Camera: Canon TLB; Film: Fomapan 100 ISO; Developer: Hair dye+alkali; Fixer: Ammonium Thiosulfate;  Scanner: Epson V500; Software: Photoscape

Camera: Canon TLB; Film: Agfa Plus 100 ISO; Developer: Hair dye+alkali; Fixer: Ammonium Thiosulfate;  Scanner: Epson V500; Software: Photoscape

The second picture was scanned reflexive!!! In fact, I made bleach by-pass and so it was impossible to scan at transparency, and the image was positive (!!!) but mirrored. So, it was scannable with a normal scanner. This picture has vestiges of the right colors, allthough it was not inverted but direct scanned. On the left is a pH meter that is yellow, in the middle, the bottle is magenta in reality and if you observe the flowers in the wall, enlarged, you may percieve colors.


The same photo as above, scanned reflexive too but tweaked in order to put more color in evidence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


In Mathematics, if following inequation is true, for every x an y of a certain domain,

f(x+y) \geq f(x)+f(y)\,.

we speak about superadditivity.


How to translate this in Photography? Well, normally superadditivity is said when the combination of two developers is stronger than each of them alone. Yes,but it is still difficult to say when there is superadditivity of two developers. Sure, if you develop with X g/l of, say, Parodinal, you have more developing time than with 2X g/l. But one developer is not said to be superadditive with itself. It is just stronger. Suppose that  we want to stablish if Caffenol and Parodinal are superadditive. What experience must be done? If you have X g/l of Parodinal and Y g/l of coffee mixed (other parameters constant like pH and so on) in a solution, then we speak about a stronger equivalent concentration of just Parodinal. In this case, if the development takes less, is faster, no wonder. But if we have tow separate solutions, one of X g/l of Parodinal and other with Y g/l coffee, each of them has a developing speed. In this case the sum of the two is to develop in Parodinal and then in Caffenol.

We have, for example, a Parodinal solution that develops in half an hour and a Caffenol in 45 minutes. We develop 15 minutes in Parodinal (for instance) and 22,5 minutes in Caffenol, one after the other (neglecting the effect of mix). This means that theoretically we need 37,5 minutes for the development. Well, then let us make F(Xg/l+Yg/l) by mixing equal parts of the developers. One should expect the same time as above. Well if this time is then shorter, for any X and Y combinations then, and only then, we may have superadditivity, I think.

Recently I thought I found superadditivity between Caffenol and Parodinal but I am not sure now, I have to undertake new experiments. I only can say that if you add Parodinal to any Caffenol you have a faster 'Caffenol' because more Coffee doesn't bring more speed, Caffenol is allways slow. But when you add Caffenol to Parodinal, it is slower than putting more Parodinal to the existent, so the Caffenol slows Parodinal for an equivalent only parodinal concentration. Because Parodinal is faster when its concentration is rised.

On the other hand, what kind of developer do we reach adding these two? A better Caffenol but a worst Parodinal. More grain, unless you want it, finer than just Caffenol. I would say, not tried yet, that Coffee works better with Vitamine C, than with Parodinal.

Caffenol plus Parodinal

Parodinal 1:250

Friday, July 13, 2012

All about Caffenol developers for black and white?

Searching the internet you have mainly three sources of caffenol recipes:

Donald Qualls pages, Reinhold blog and recipes.

Trying to get an overview, I putted all of them in a table and looked for some rule in these recipes. All of them use coffee and Sodium Carbonate as alkali, aka Washing Soda. Almost all the developers also use Ascorbic Acid, aka Vitamine C, but one uses only coffee, pure Caffenol. In this recipe the amount of coffee is twice the amont of soda and, depending on dilution, you get more or less time for it to work. It seems that the more coffee in proportion to soda, the more contrast you get. But pure caffenol will tend to give low contrast, grain and coffee spots. So, people give up soon developing only with caffenol and they try the other recipes with Vit. C that seems to work much better.

In all we can say that for one liter Caffenol, the recipes have following range of use, having all recipes in account:

Coffee - from 10 to 80 g
Ascorbic Acid - from 0 to 40 g
Sodium Carbonate - from 16 to 120 g
 Below you can see two examples where in the first I used a developer based on just coffee as developing agent, in the second I combined coffee with another B&W developer, but not the usual Vit. C, but Acetaminophen, aka Paracetamol.

To make a better use of coffee in color developers, first I need to understand how it works in black and white photography. With this example it is clear that when you combne coffee with another well choosen developing agent, it works better, less fog and stains and not so grainy as only coffee. The amount of the other developing agent is minimal.

Example 1

Example 2

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


When you do experiments with different possibilies in the treatment of your negatives, you are sometimes surprised with the results you didn't plan. This was the case with a coffee developer I was trying for B&W films. The idea was to use a weak developer during more time with a restrainer in order to get better results than with simple caffenol.

I used 20 g of coffee with 10 g sodium sulfite in 1 liter solution and added only 1 g Sodium Hydroxide as alkali. I also used 0,2 g of Potassium Bromide and developed for 90 minutes at room temperature. The black and white pictures that resulted are very poor, but if you scann them as color negatives and adjust in software afterwoods, you may have a big surprise. The film must be very well washed after fixing to remove coffee stains but it remains yellowish, similar to color negatives.

A poor Black and White picture

The same picture scanned in color mode

From the same black and white roll

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Developing color film is not difficult

I already heard from many people doing B&W photography that they don't trust themselves doing color because it is a very difficult issue, you have to keep temperature constant and the durations of the baths are critical and so on.

For a long time I was one of these people too. But I never lost the idea of trying it some day. And this day is already passed and now I know that it is all not so difficult. And I also know that you neither need temperature nor fixed time durations, if you use Dignans recipe of split developer.

So, if you want to start developing color, try the Dignan method. First of all, dissolve 4,5 g Sodium Sulfite in 500 ml water and add 5 g CD-4, the color developer. This is the bath A and it takes at least 3 minutes, make it 5. Pour back in the bottle. The bath B is just a basic solution that will activate the CD-4 transported from bath A (no rinsing between these baths). The development will take some 6 minutes at pH=11,6 to 11,8. I am using a few perls of sodium hydroxide and I add sodium carbonate until I reach the pH between those values. To this, and according to the original recipe, I add 0,5 g Potassium Bromide, better said, 25 ml of a 2% solution of Potassium Bromide.

As I already said here in a post, bleach bath influences the color you get, the best one I tried is ferric EDTA that can be used together with the fixer, in a so called Blix Bath. But after the second developing bath, use a stop bath of acetic or citric acid and then bleach+fixer. This may take longer than it takes at the recommended 38ºC, just leave it for some 15 minutes and then wash very well. As final bath you may use a 27% solution of formaldeyde with a drop of Photo Flo. Well, I use just a drop of wash disher, no formaldeyde.

And you may appreciate some results of this development, using an Adox Golf camera, Lomography 400 ISO film, scanned with Epson V500 and treated with the software Photoscape.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 3

Example 5

Monday, July 2, 2012

Photos and Art

What do I have in mind with all these experiments? Developing color with coffee, using different bleach baths and even the fixer sometimes, although since Herschel nobody knows that common salt can fix photos.

In fact, all these experiments have a purpose, to make photos with a different look, an artistic look. Yesterday I went for a walk in my neighborhood and took an Agfa Solina (35 mm) with me and took all 36 photos of an Agfa Plus 100 ISO film.

Once at home, I was wondering what to do with the roll. Well, since I tried Dignans method, witch doesn't need temperature to work, you may develop at room temperature, I think all other methods are obsolet. So, instead of going the classic C-41, I undertook development after Dignan. The same first bath that I already used several times and will use and use again. The second with a few grams of Sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate until pH=11,7. 0,5 g of Potassium Bromide for 500 ml and that is all. The Potassium Bromide I already made a 2% solution of it, and from this I took 25ml.

The last time I used Franz Dietrich's bleach bath, I realised that the film was not all equal. This and the fact that I have not been using ferric EDTA for a long time, gave me the impulse to use this instead of Dietrich's.

On the other hand, it was the first try with this camera Agfa Solina and one adventure is enough each time. OK, I shut up but I only want to tell you that the camera is fantastic. The photos came up with a very nice color, here and there some transversal spots (I think I didn't stir the bleach enough) but in all a very ppositive result. Some of the photos served as original for more artistic work with the software PhotoScape.  example. One of the photos with transversal spots
The same photo in aquarela style with Photoscape

2.nd example. This is ok!

Another aquarela with Photoscape

3.rd example

Aquarela from above with Photoscape example.

Aquarela from above

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shall we manipulate digitally film pictures?

In the last time, I have not been so active here in the blog. Time was spent in other professional activities. My hobby was left behind. But, for health reasons I have to walk and in one of these walks I took an Adox Golf with a 120 Lomography 400 ISO with me and took some pictures, most of them at the maximum speed 1/200 and minimum aperture, f: 22. I developed this film as I have been doing lately, Dignans method and Franz Dietrich bleach bath. I use this bleach to obtain a different look, more artistic, in the photos.

After some digitizing with Epson V500 and white automatic exposure and color enhancement, the photo was loaded in the program Photoscape, free software, and some corrections were undertaken to give this:
Original after digital correction
The program Photoshop allows a lot of transformations, some are automatic and some are adjustable. One of the transformations consented is the color layers disadjustment to give a look of serigraphy. A nice effect:

Serigraphic look
Another possibility, witch appears in other software programs, is the reflexion that when applied to the first version, gives this:
Photo with water reflexion
Another facility of the program is the zoom effect that can be applied in different graduation, from minimum effect to maximum. I choosed degree 7, witch gave the picture below:

Zoom effect with Photoscape
Another facility is to apply a doble glas to the picture, like showed below. This was combined with the zoom effect, that is to say, it was applied to the picture above.

Doble glas over zoom
Using the zoom facility, stretched to the maximum effect, degree 60, we may transform the original version of the picture to this:

Maximum zoom effect
My appreciation:

Yes, I think it is worth to tweak digitally the photos. From durst removal to the artistic effects, they are intended to help us make the better and more from otherwise very common or spoiled pictures. Some will want to keep only what could be done without the digital possibilities but it is difficult to say what is possible or not. Doble glass or glas with structure is possible physicaly, zoom too when photographing or enlarging, color balance and color separation too, etc.. The digital is made by copying physical processes, so every transformation is, in principle, possible. The smooth grade variation maybe not, but the digital replaces a lot of artifacts and make it easier to do things that for time reasons and costs we wouldn't do.

I love both, film and digital possibilities!