Coffee and Photographs
The incessant, frequently furtive search for ever-more fascinating and inspirational material to dish up here sometimes leads one in unpredictable and absurd directions. More often than not, those unforeseen forks in the road prove to be far more interesting than the road one was, in one’s ignorance, happily following.
I enjoy a cup of coffee every now and again - who doesn’t? - yet I’d never really considered coffee an ingredient in my pursuit of the elusive “perfect picture”, aside of course from those cherished times when one can sit down and partake of a cup by way of a welcome diversion from looking for things to photograph.
Turns out that a couple of teaspoons of instant coffee form the major ingredient of a (how could I have possibly known?) popular and respected home-brew film developer known as Caffenol.
Home brew? Sounds dangerous, I hear you whisper, albeit slightly tremulously. Not so in this case. The other ingredients are common household things like washing soda and citric acid. And water. Most important that you add water. Mix it up until it’s a browny-black colour a bit like a cup of black coffee (strangely enough) then plunk your film in it et voila! you soon have a roll of beautifully developed film hanging from the vent in your bathroom.
Supplementary benefits of this wonder developer include that it is non-toxic (unlike a lot of other developers) and it is CHEAP, relatively speaking. Perhaps most of all though, mixing up from scratch and using Caffenol gives one a rather pleasing sense of accomplishment.
Ponder, if you will, the look of the photographs above, taken from a roll of HP5+ that I shot yesterday using the Mamiya 7 in order to test out the first batch of Caffenol that James and I mixed up during the week.
All things considered, not bad. Not bad at all.