Sunday, September 30, 2012


Aluminum mask
I am very happy that I had the idea of making a mask in the dimensions 24x36 mm for my Holga 120 GN. Some posts ago I showed a paper mask but it was so successful that I decided to make an aluminum mask, something more solid. This mask replaces completely the masks used in Holga, it is another format and for me it has many advantages:

  1. The first advantage is that you expose 27 or 28 photos instead of the maximum of 16 provided by the 45 x 60 mm mask. So, it is cheaper.
  2. The photos are more sharp over the whole image because this is more in the center, cutting the less sharp parts of the image.
  3. The film has a margin where you may hold it without gloves and insert in the scanner or enlarger.
There are also some disadvantages, for instance:
  1. The lens will be used as a tele and not as the normal 60 mm. This disadvantage may be overcome using a wide angle. I am waiting for one I ordered to test. This wide angle will probably bring the image to its normal view.
  2. The image has no vignette at all. If you like the vignetting, you may put it with a free image software  like Photoscape.
  3. The counter of the pictures already exposed is more difficult because the needed correct numbers are not there. You may start counting 15 clicks spacement for the first 4 pictures, 14 for the next 4, 13 for the next 4 and so on, 12 for the next 4 and 11 for the rest.
The first roll exposed with this new mask suffered some scratches because the mask was not polished prior to first use. But it is already polished and the second roll is drying after exposure, today. I may post some photos tomorrow.


Arboretum vignetted with Photoscape
These two pictures have horizontal lines, scratched by the sharp edges of the mask, the problem is already fixed. In the second image I include a soft vignette with Photoscape tools.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Holga and Lomography

Like almost everyday, I took a camera, this time the same Holga I have been using for some days, I loaded it with a color film from Lomography and took some 25 pictures with a mask sized 24x36 mm. The weather was clear but it was late, the sun was going down quickly. Most of the pictures were made in shadow but none was lost.

I used again the Dignan's 2-bath developer, the same bath A I have been using and that already developed some ten or more films, it works like new. The second bath is only 5% soda and 0,1% KBr, Potassium Bromide. Classical C-41 process does not include KBr, and it is not recommended either. Only using this 2-bath allows to use KBr without spoiling the film.

Together with some very «lomographic» pictures I have got some good ones and both are shown bellow. So, I am now quite satisfied with Dignan's process which is very tolerant with times and temperature and works at room temperature. Well, but I am still looking for a homemade color developer. The issue with hair dye didn't convince me because it is unpredictable. But there may be a way to put it working.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sprocket holes and light leaks with a Holga

Two lomographic effects in one series of photos made with a Holga GN. The sprocket holes were intended but not the light leak in the middle. This effect is the result of a not covering conveniently the numbers window.

I used the adapter shown in the last post, it worked perfectly, I counted 28 clicks between photos, in the beginning it was ok, but then I could have reduced to 25 clicks in order to have more photos. They were 16 at all, with the 4,5x6 mask of Holga using a 24 exp. roll made in Japan for Schlecker supermarkets. It was a rainy dark day, the film is underexposed and was not compensated at the development, using Dignan's 2-bath method at room temperature. Color films are very tolerant to under and overexposures; with the help of the software Photoscape it was possible to extract some images.

Here are some examples:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

35 mm adaptor for 120 cameras

First I tried with wood, but it was too weak and I decided for iron. The piece you see below took about 2 hours to fabricate. The hard part is the slot for the film transporter, the rest was made of tubes and washers. Without a lathe, just with a small drill, an iron saw and a file it is not so easy but you need to keep cool and work hard.

Adaptor for 35 mm film in a 120 camera

The adaptor fits any 120 camera, this is the Holga GN

Loading the film with tape

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Holgagraphy - 1

I am a fan of the camera Holga. Holga is a very cheap plastic camera that has many good predicates, but is mostly known for its weaknesses like distortion, light leaks, blurs and vignetting. In fact, if you use the camera in order to get good pictures it is sometimes difficult to say that it was made with a Holga. But if you have another camera and it is used without care, you may produce holgographies too. I appreciate these typical Holga photos but personaly I prefere to produce normal pictures with a Holga, it is more challenging, I think Of course, not using all the lomographic 10 rules.

Let as start with the optical distortions. Holga has, ordinary, a plastic single lens. This lens produce funny pictures were colors are decomposed at the edges of the objects photographed. Besides, straight lines are curved, any spheric simple lens produce this effect too. How to make photos without these problems. Holga offers a version with glas lens. These lens don't decompose the light like the plastic ones. On the other hand if we only use the portion of the image in the center of the frame, spherical aberration is much smaller. This is only convenient if the image is big enough, so I advise you to use a 120 version of Holga, the Holga GN that may be new as cheap as 26 dollars. It is the price worth. OK, if you are going to use only the central part of the image, you may reduce the size of the frame like this, for instance:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A 2-bath B&W developer?

I have been involved recently in a discussion about Caffenol as a 2-bath developer. Mike posted the idea and I accepted the challenge and started doing with him. Did not work with me like I thought but I discovered then the Caffenol Strong which recipe I must change in order to make it safer. In fact I added a lot of sulfite to the bath A and this was an error, I'll never use sulfite with acid developers like coffee and Vitamine C, because sulfite decomposes in the gas SO2, that certainly kills bacteria but may also cause the container to blow up with the pressure increase.

Sulfite, used as preservative is mainly an Oxygene scavenger, have I learned then. The ammount of Oxygene in water is always very small,  sulfite should be added, I think, like it is done for wine, one gramm is more than enough and should be added first to the water alone where a parte of it will oxidize to sulfate and then we can add coffee and Vit. C in this water previously de-oxygenated with sulfite. And we may also boil the water for some 10 minutes to free the air in it. I have done this and the content is now in a closed bottle that I will control for gas formation, if any. I don't think so.

But then, another fellow in Flickr suggested too that, instead of Caffenol we should try with Parodinal because it is a developer that is active in very small ammounts. Coffee and Vit C too, like my developer Caffenol Strong shows. Only 1 g/l of coffee + 1 g/l Vit. C can produce developement in just 15 minutes. But I accepted the challenge too, of experimenting the recipe suggested by Giorgio. I introduced some changes in the original suggestion:

Bath A: Parodinal 20cc + vit.C 6g (in 1 lt. water)
Bath B: metaborate (don't know how much - 10g/l?)
Instead, and after having tried the suggestion without good results, I doubled the quantities in bath A and used Sodium Carbonate 5% as second bath with 1g/l Potassium Bromide. This worked very well, like a 2-bath should work. I soaked the film during 30 minutes in Bath A to ensure that the film absorbs enough developing agents. Modern B&W films have a thin layer that does not work very well with 2-bath developers. The film I used was a Ilford FP4 125 ISO and I shot very nice photos with a Holga GN 120 adapted with a mask to shoot 28 photos in size 24x36mm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Drinking developer!

Drinkable developer

I almost had an accident with one of my 250 ml bottles of Caffenol Strong. I made one liter of Caffenol Strong, 200 g coffee, 200 g Vit.C and 100 g sulfite but I didn´t count on the formation of SO2 gas from sulfite in an acid medium like coffee plus Vit. C. In fact, I should have read about this prior to the experiment (always learning). In this Caffenol version sulfite was intended as a preservative, like used for wines. I based the ammount on developers that use sulfite as an alkali, so the amount is excessive and it will produce at room temperature, after some time, a lot of gas. Fortunately I controlled the bottle, oppening slowly and lots of gas came out. From the other 3 bottles in refrigerator, in fact, no gas came out, maybe some is present but dissolved in the solution. The colder the solution the more gas it can store. It was a good idea to store the develçopers in the refrigerator.

I don't think this version of Caffenol will last (we will see) for months without changes. The ammount of sulfite as Oxyden scavenger is measured in parts per million and not 100g/liter like I did. The next version will have just a small ammount of sulfite, very few gramms, maybe one gramm is enough.

But I discovered how to use this 'developer'. I am preparing a beverage with only 5ml/liter of Caffenol Strong in just water. The total amount of sulfite in this drink will be about 500 ppm, like in some wines. Some people have allergic reactions to sulfite, but it is present in all wines. In the USA if a wine has more than 10 ppm of sulfite that must be written on the label.

Cheers! It is a very good beverage, and healty, 1g of the anti-oxidant Vit. C in one liter.

PS - Add some sugar or honney if you like it sweet!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Just another Caffenol

In this post I will try to describe how I came to the idea of ​​a Caffenol that can in principle be stored in concentrated solution for use when needed.

The idea of ​​using sodium sulfite in caffenol baths came from Reinhold, author of the excellent blog Caffenol, to reduce the grain of caffenol, making use of the solvent properties of sulfite. But sulfite is also a preservative and, in some developers, it is used as alkali to activate the developer agents. This means that it can be used for other purposes.

Then, Mike, a fellow in Flickr, that also has a fine blog (already added to my list) , had also the idea of a Caffenol 2-bath developer. I entered the discussion and started working in the same direction. But due to a bad choice, I was led to another result that may also be useful: a concentrated caffenol. Mike, the author of the topic about 2-bath caffenol, succeeded with a recipe using more Vit. C than coffee, with very good results.

My recipe consisted first in a 5% bath of sodium carbonate, washing soda, with just 5 ml/L of the concentrate developer agents. The concentrate is made of 200g/L coffee, 200g/L Vit. C and 100g/L sodium sulfite. 5 ml contains only 1g/L of coffee and 1g/L Vit C and 0,5g/L sodium sulfite. Below is a photo developed with 5ml/L of the concentrate in a 5% solution of just soda. The film is strong fogged, but the pictures are very acceptable. It took only 15 minutes to develop, like regular caffenol baths.

A Slice of house

Then I saw that Potassium Bromide should be added to bath B, in order to get less fog. I did it and exposed a second roll but I had to make some adjustments now. Using just 1g/L of Bromide is enough to slow very much the development. So I replaced 5ml of bath A with 10ml and I have prolonged the 15 minutes time to 30 minutes. So, the new recipe means: 2g/L coffee 2g/L Vit. C 1g/L Sodium Sulfite 1g/L Potassium Bromide 50g/L Sodium Carbonate.  This time I took some pictures without leaving home, from the windows to outside, with the new Holga GN. After development, no fog at all, but poor focus of the camera and grain as usual in Caffenol but not bad.

View from the front window

This test showed me clearly that I could shoot another roll with the better camera Adox Golf, the same I used with the first roll. I don't have a better camera, but I think I need a medium format camera with a better lens for these 'good developers'. This reminds me of my cheap bicycle where I installed a powerfull electric motor and the bycicle is now broken because it is to weak for the motor.

And here are two examples of the last of three rolls developed with the concentrated caffenol solution, just another caffenol but maybe cheaper than the others or somehow practical.

Across the river

About the stadium in Leiria

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Like I promised in the last post, I exposed a cheap color film with a new recharged disposable camera, an Agfa Le Box with a 35 mm roll 24 exp. made in Japan for Schleker, Germany. I used a process based on Dignan's 2-bath developing method but where the first bath is just CD-4 (11g/l) and Sodium Sulfite (9g/l), 10 minutes at room temperature. Then I used as second bath a 'caffenol' with 40g/l soda and 20g/l cheap soluble coffee from LIDL supermarkts, 15 minutes at room temperature. To bleach the film I used povidone iodine 10% (Betadyne), 1 hour at room temperature and finally the fixer was just common table salt (300g/l), more than 5 hours at 30ºC. To mantain the temperature of the salt bath at about 30ºC, I putted a bulb lamp in a cookies box and the developer tank on the box. The film is not totally fixed, but already transparent and scannable, I will fix it later on leting it on a salt solution for some hours more.

But in this experiment, except CD-4, all other chemicals are available for other uses. Let us see: sodium sulfite is the same used for swimming pools as chlorine neutralizer; potash or sodium carbonate is available at drugstores as cleaning agent; coffee at supermarkets; Betadyne at a Pharmacy and salt at supermarkets too. The only thing special you need to develop C-41 the way I did, is CD-4, the rest is easy to get. Another point, the ammount of coffee will determine the color you get, fewer coffee leads to more color and no coffee at all you get these very bright colors of Dignan's method tending to magenta.

Now, some photos f the Agfa Le Box:

Man and nature

Corn field

River Lena from the pedestrian bridge

Water of the river Lena

The house behind the road

Aerial trafo station

While walking

The last pic

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tavira, a nice place to live

In my recent vacations in Algarve, I made some photos with my film camera Canon TLB. This camera has a light leak but I couldn't fix it yet. I can't find where it is and why it only lets light come in sometimes and not always. I am getting used to this leak and maybe it is not so bad to have some pictures with spots like people like nowadays with the lomographic fashion.

These pictures are from the same roll of the last posts. Also developed with Dignan's 2-bath developer and Blix bath of ferric ammonium EDTA plus amonnium Thiosulfate. I am about using another bleach and fixing process next time I develop color pictures. I am going to use povidone-iodine, an over-the-counter drug used to clean wounds or in hospitals to prepare patients skin prior to surgery. Betadyne is a commercial brand of this substance. As fixer I will use common salt, as already tested with black and white film.
This means that the only special chemical I will use in color C-41 process will be CD-4. All my efforts to replace it with another product failled until now. If you have any suggestion it is welcome.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cheap and fine

I discovered a shop that sells a package of 3x24exp. color C-41 films for just 2,99 euro, that is to say, 1 euro per roll. It was so cheap that I decided to give it a try. I was realy surprised with the quality. These films are produced in Japan for Anton Schlecker in Germany. They expire in July 2014, which means they are still valid. The next, I am buying a complete stock for years, if I find them again.

I exposed the film with a Konica point and shoot camera, Z-up 80 and developed using Dignan's 2-bath C-41 process. The film was scanned with an Epson V500 and treated with the free software Photoscape.

Example I

Example II

Example III

Example IV

Example V

Example VI