Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Dispatch: How to Make Film Developer Out of Coffee and Vitamin C

After an Independence Day weekend infused with both ribs and burgers, I was filled with can-do American spirit and spent a few hours on the website of Make magazine. There I learned that a dedicated group of photographers who still shoot film actually make their own developer out of coffee, vitamin C, and some other household items. It sounds geeky, and it is--but it's also cool. Here's a video explaining it all:

Making home-brew developer isn't for everyone, obviously. But why not? What else are you going to do with that box of Arm & Hammer soda ash (washing soda) you have lying around? Once upon a time a large part of the thrill of photography--for many dedicated amateurs and professionals--was the hands-on nature of the process, the quiet, creative time spent in darkrooms, inhaling the heady chemical aromas of developers and fixers. There may be a crying human need to recreate that quality experience--if you look through the Make magazine site you'll see that there is almost no digital gizmo that can't be amended into something satisfyingly analog in nature. (Example: "Learn to construct a basic long necktie with stripes to represent your favorite value of resistor – fashion inspired by the electronics bench!")

At the very least, this Steampump version of photography shows how arcane the idea of film photography has actually become.

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