Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another approach to Dignan's 2-bath developer for C-41

What seduced me with Dignan's divided developer was the absence of time and temperature control when doing C-41 at home, without expensive equipment.

I am using the method for quite a while now, but I still have some in-satisfaction about colour shifts, grain, shelf life, etc..

I already tried to solve colour shifts using different recipes for bath B, decreasing or increasing pH. The grain has been always there, no matter how I agitate or not. Shelf life was 1 month for bath A and pictures were becaming weaker and weaker.

Let me remind you of the composition of bath A:

1 g of Sodium Bisulfite
9 g of Sodium Sulfite
11 g CD4
Water to - 1 liter

I couldn't get Sodium Bisulfite, but I read somewhere that Metabisulfite in 1:1 proportion would do the same. So I used 1g/l of Potassium Metabisulfite.

I tried to use more Potassium Metabisulfite, 2g/l, to prolong the shelf live and indeed, it worked. I could use the same batch of bath A during 6 months with little changes that I compensated with longer bath B until 1 hour.

The use of more Potassium Metabisulfite seems to require longer bath B anyway.

The last insight I had about the divided C-41 developer was this one: Why not helping the second bath with a little of bath A in it? This could have as result a better overall development and, who knows, better negatives?

In fact, I started using 20ml/l of bath A in bath B and then increasing to 50ml/l. Yes, better colours and better density of the negatives. And with constant agitation I had much less grain than before.

But, and this could cut to zero the advantages of Dignan 2-bath developer, if we need 50 ml of bath A for each film, after 20 films we spent 1000 ml that would also have developed 20 films without split development.

But no, bath B with 50ml/l of bath A may develop 2, 3 or more films, so making the process very attractive.

Monday, May 23, 2016

New findings on C-41

I have been using split development for color films with some success but sometimes it fails too. I like very much the idea that we just use a small amount of CD4 in the first bath and get more films developed than one could achieve with a one-bath developer.

Some causes of failure are:
  • The first bath looses strength and leads to underdevelopment
  • Different films need different second baths, different pH
    (Fuji tends for instance to give greenish negatives)
  • Grainy pictures (also because agitation is manual and sometimes we don't agitate enough)
 I am working in an alternative but I still have to test it with at least 2 other films, Kodacolor and Fujicolor normally available today.

By now, I am getting good results with Fujicolor-Eterna-250D, besides a very tolerant film that can even be developed with hair dye as I already showed here while other films give very bad results.

These pictures have a very good color in just automatic scanner settings and a fine grain.
So, as soon as I have more confidence with the alternative to the split developer, I will make a new post. By now, pacience is needed, but the idea is to include in the second bath a certain amount of the first.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

For a long time I didn't post because I had no time for further experiments but soon I will return with more funny things, I hope!

Today is the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, so I want to show you an interesting experiment I made. Normally in a pinhole film photograph you will almost never see moving objects. To get a sharp photo you have to use a small hole but a small hole means less light and for the most films you need to expose for seconds. And every movement will produce blurred images or only fogged areas or nothing if the object moves very fast.

One could think how to overcome this problem by using very fast films and pushing the development. This is what I made using an old Agfa Synchro Box without lens. In its place I putted a pinhole of 0.5mm, giving a f number of more than 270. The camera has a speed of about 1:50 in instant setting. I used a 3200 ISO film to take some instant pinhole photos and developed in parodinal developer in dilution 1:50 for one hour, stand. Yes, there appeared some images. The film was very dark (fogged by a so long development) but all 8 pictures, taken in a sunny day with some clouds could be scanned and gave usable photos.

In a near future, however, I will try to repeat this experiment with a much smaller camera format like 35 mm or less, using a very small focal for the pinhole. So, instead of a f number of 270, I can use about 100. For instances, using a 0.2 mm hole, I calculate a 24 mm focal length, giving a f number of 120. This f number allows speeds of 1/50 for 3200 ISO and pushing to 6400 or more, even 1/100 in a sunny day.

We will see!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tiny first result with hair dye and modern C-41 film

The negative of the picture above was made on a Fujicolor 200 film and developed for 1 hour with the same developer that gave in just 15 minutes a much dense image using Fuji Eterna 250D, a movie film long expired. I already posted that image, but here is it again:

I think that modern films just need a higher pH, so I will be trying that as next.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hair dye and C-41 again

In the first post about this matter, I also said:

The film I used was a movie film, Fujicolor Eterna 250D, and I first soaked for 30 minutes in just Soda to remove the remjet and then washed and developed. I then fixed to see the silver image but the film was already transparent like bleached. But I used then a Blix bath to be sure that only dyes are on film.

A friend suggested that maybe the first bath of just soda was helping too. I may agree now, after having tried to develop a normal modern C-41 film without the first soda bath. It didn't produce decent images and no color at all. On the other hand it seems that the resulting dyes are easely damaged by handling, this is also true for Fujicolor Eterna 250, which is much more stable than the modern emulsion I used. This one could be pealed by passing a finger on it, the other only gets marks.

Yesterday, after the disaster with normal C-41 film, I repeated the test with Fuji Eterna just to see whether the developer was to blame; I used the same batch I prepared on Thursday. Well, maybe a little different, less quality, but still working.

And below is one of the pictures I made with a modern C-41 film, whose brand I can't say because it was in a Fuji cartridge but loaded from another. I often divide a 36 exp. film in 4 parts for tests. It was probably a Fuji or a Kodak.

So, the work must go on! The good results so far were just a consequence of a lucky junction between Fujicolor Eterna 250D and the developer.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Colors developed with Hair dye

On the right side a palette of colors, the so called MacBeth chart, picked up at internet. On the left side a photo of the same chart developed with hair dye developer, version 3, HD3 baptized. This version uses:

50ml hair dye with PPD
5g Sodium Hydroxide
10g Sodium Bicarbonate
5g soluble coffee
2g Potassium Metabisulfite

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Color from scratch?

To make a B&W developer from scratch is today very easy. You may use coffee, tea, potatos, wine and so on, all of them can develop silver. But color is very difficult because you need a substance that developing silver produces the right stuff that combined with the dye couplers on the film will generate the dyes. For C-41, the right stuff is CD4 (a complex derivative of PPD, paraphenylenediamine). Ok, other derivatives like CD1, CD2, CD3, will also develope and also PPD alone does it like a friend of this blog did some time ago and shared with us. He offered me to send some PPD but I didn't take the chance because it is also a special stuff and my goal is to use a common stuff like coffee is used for B&W.

Unfortunately there aren't common substances with those potential color developers, one of the only ones are some hair dyes containing PPD. Some people have already tried it, but only a few had some success. I have been trying this for a long time but I couldn't realy get an acceptable result, until today. I also tried para-aminophenol, aka paracetamol, reported also as a weak color developer with tenuous results.

Still a dream
Today, because the wether is bad for walking, I decided to try again with hair dye, following partly the experience of Robert (neelin) . I loaded a piece of film in a camera and from my balcony I made some 6 shots to several directions.

Then I prepared a «soup» containing hair dye and developed the piece of film for 1 hour at more or less 37ºC (100ºF) in my kitchen sink. OK, not only a time, it was the third attempt. I first used 15 min. at room temperature, then 30 minutes at room temperature and finally full one hour at 37ºC.

And my recipe was this one:

50 ml hair dye containing PPD
0,05 g phenidone
1 g sodium sulfite
5 g sodium hydroxide
10 g sodium bicarbonate
5 g potassium bromide
Water to make 500ml

The film looked like a B&W one but at scanning I saturated the colors and also with software afterwoods.

The film I used was a movie film, Fujicolor Eterna 250D, and I first soaked for 30 minutes in just Soda to remove the remjet and then washed and developed. I then fixed to see the silver image but the film was already transparent like bleached. But I used then a Blix bath to be sure that only dyes are on film.

Note: The only special stuff I used was Phenidone like suggested here, and I still don't know if it goes without it. I will try it later because it is important that the developer is realy made from scratch.
Update: I did another modification, without phenidone and without Potassium Bromide. Yes, it works too, I will be publishing the results very soon. So, the recipe is now as follows:

50ml hair dye containing PPD
5g Sodium Hydroxide
10g Sodium Bicarbonate
2g Potassium Metabisulfite
Water to make 500ml


I first dissolved the hair dye in some 100 ml water and Sodium Hydroxide also in some 100 ml warm water. I mixed both and stir a lot and let it react for 3 hours. I did this because hair dye is oily and reacting with Sodium Hydroxide will change a part of it to soap. During this three hours I stired sometimes too. But maybe the PPD also reacts with Sodium Hydroxide, I don't know. Then, after three hours I added Sodium Bicarbonate that will also react with Sodium Hydroxide giving Sodium Carbonate. This will lower pH a lot. Finally I added water to make 500 ml and Metabisulfite as preservative.

It works much faster, I only needed 20 minutes to develop. I think this is because it has no Potassium Bromide which is a restrainer. But I couldn't see differences until now. Maybe with KBr you get sharper images but this is not a problem for who just want to use common substances and KBr is, somehow special. Maybe salt, Sodium Chloride may be used instead.

I used a squeezer but it produced horizontal lines.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Temperature Myth and C-41

Like many other B&W developers, C-41 developing time of the developer bath is highly dependent on temperature. In fact, it may be used at room temperature but, perhaps for economic reasons only, it is normally done at 100 or 102ºF (37.8 or 38.8ºC), taking about 3 minutes and 30 or 15 seconds respectively.

Is the temperature really necessary? Some colour developer brands suggest also other possible temperatures, the so called slower procedure at 86ºF (30ºC) and the express procedure at 113ºF (45ºC). This is a sign that it is not absolutely necessary to respect a given temperature. It is obvious that a very high temperature will spoil the film and a very low temperature is maybe time consuming and therefore not suitable for film labs, where time is money. That is maybe the reason why a standard  temperature/time combination was chosen at about 100ºF/3'30''. 100ºF is safe for the film and it turns possible a very short time to make the process cheaper.

Film labs use automatic film processors and it is very easy to respect exact temperature and development time. For manual use in a development tank, that is quite impossible, imho. Filling and emptying the tank take time and the temperature will drop when you take the tank out of the warm water bath to agitate each 30 seconds. Using warmer water above 40ºC to compensate may burn your hands and the time you save to develop in just 3 and half minutes is spoiled with warm bath preparation and so on.

When I decided to write about this subject, I first heard the opinion of a friend and colleague of these labors, Reinhold G., the author of the nice blog Caffenol. In a earlier discussion with him, we both agreed that for manual processing, one should use room temperature and not external heated tanks. Besides, some time ago he published a graphic he prepared with temperature vs. time for C-41 development, according to manufacturer's data, and extrapolated to as low as 20ºC (68ºF). With his consent, here I reproduce the graphic:

Click to enlarge
From this graphic we can see that for 20ºC we should develop for 20 minutes. And this time is not so critical, 1 minute less or more will not change the result, so filling and emptying will not introduce noise in the result.

Are there other reasons not to use room temperature and go the hard and exact procedure defended by some C-41 fundamentalists? It is said that the 100ºF procedure is responsible for exact colours but neither my experience or Reinhold's support this. Films I developed at room temperature present all three layers (blue, green and red) well developed and a good indicator for a succeeded development is mainly the red layer, the deepest one, where the developer must penetrate more. If you have vivid reds, that is a good sign. Colour shifts, according to my several failures, are mainly a pH problem, varying from magenta shift for low pH to hell yellow/green for high pH. To get good colours, you only need to adjust pH, instead of rising the temperature. Besides the pH of liquids decrease with temperature.

I recommend strongly this post of Reinhold at the site As he says, developing C-41 is somehow easier because all C-41 films will be developed with the same developer (all brands are equivalent) and in the same time, be sure to have the correct pH which is said to be 10 but feel free to adjust for better colour reproduction. When processing B&W you have dozens of developers and each combination has a certain time and depends on temperature: see Massive Development Chart at digitaltruth photo.

Another final recommendation I can make is to prolong the bleach bath more than the standard time because it is normal that at a lower temperature reactions go slower. You may use the same acid fixer for B&W and the same times used for B&W film. To check whether a film is well bleached and fixed, scan it using IR scanning. If it is not well bleached and fixed, some large square pictures like big pixels will show here and there.

To end this already long post, I would like to thank to Reinhold G. for his support and opinions, which we share together.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

DIY photographic B&W chemicals for film, using common substances

There might be be several choices, I am just proposing one, the most simple of all, IMMO:

1. Soluble coffee, any kind of it
2. Sodium Carbonate, of any kind, even Sodium Bicarbonate may be used instead.
3. Sea salt, cooking salt or table sea salt
4. Sodium Hypochloride, aka, household bleach

As developer you may use my black caffenol, which recipe is as follows:

20 g/l soluble coffee
6 g/l Sodium Carbonate anhydrous or equivalente (7 monohidrate or 16.2 decahidrate)
4g/ l table salt or cooking sea salt

Usage: develop for 90 minutes at 20ºC

As fixer you may use a very concentrated solution of just salt, cooking or table sea salt, i.e.:

300 g/l sea salt, filtered with coffee filter to avoid recrystallization
3 ml/l of Sodium Hypochloride

Usage: fix for some hours, open the tank after one hour and control how long it takes to clear and double the time for complete fixing.

If you don't have any sodium carbonate, use 10 g of Sodium Bicarbonate but first put it in a oven at a temperature above 200ºC for some minutes, until it weights about 6 g. Use this 6 g/l, it is Sodium Carbonate anhydrous.

Procedure: Development is almost stand, just some inversions each 10-15 minutes. All baths are one shot, so you may rinse between developer and fixer but it is not necessary. Final wash is advisable for archival longevity.