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Let's 'Cook' the Film: The Recipe of Film Soup!

The idea of film soup, is to allow the film to have chemical interaction with the 'soup', and produce the unexpectedly extraordinary effect for your Lomographs. Since the first film soup ever been 'served', every Lomographer has eagerly recorded down their own recipe and review. In this article, I would like to share my experience with my own secret recipe!

What’s in your mind when you look at the Lomograph above? Flashy! Dreamy! Disgusting! Dazzling! Or “Is my screen dead?!” I believe there is different opinions out there. (Haha) But, no matter how you feel about this Lomograph, it surely conveys a different kind of vision impact. This was the cross processed result of the slide film after being ‘stewed’ in the film soup. There was no post-editing after it was digitalized! This time round, I have experienced the ‘film soup’ myself, and would like to share my secret recipe to all of you.

Warning: The following recipe accompanied unexpected risk, please take your own risk while stewing your film, and thereafter.

Taking Lomographs
It is purely personal preference whether you want your film exposed before or after the ‘stewing’ it in your film soup. Personally, I would stew it after I have finished the roll, that is partly because of the uneven film surface after being boiled in the soup. Therefore, it might reduce some of the trouble while exposing the film. The film is of your own choice, negative film, slide film, etc. As for exposure, try to avoid under exposure, as chemical reactions tend to enhance the negative effect of the film. Talking about my experience, a slightly over exposure yielded a very good result. After finishing your roll, keep the film all the way into the cartridge and into the box.

Ingredients and Materials

  • Darkroom (closet, or very dim and dark room for alternatives)
  • Neutral detergent (household detergent)
  • Clips (to hold the film in the darkroom)
  • Stove (for heating the film)
  • Pot (for heating and stewing the film)
  • Hairdryer (for drying the film)
  • Towel, tissue or newspaper (For cleaning)
  • Support and understanding from your family (the room will smell like the detergent afterwards) :D

Preparing detergent solution
1. Dissolve the detergent in hot water.
2. Control the ratio of detergent to water according to your preference. I personally mix 1:1 portion. Then, keep it stirring until it is fully dissolved.

Mix the hot water with detergent

Working in the darkroom
1.Pull the film all they way out of the canister. Careful! Do not tear the film off the canister.
2. Use the clip to fix the film onto the wall, with the emulsion surface facing upwards.(please refer to the photo)

Film fixed onto the wall

3. Apply the prepared detergent solution onto the film with your finger, dabbing the solution on top of the emulsion. The right strength is the key! Of course, it might be difficult for you to do it in a darkroom, but please be calm and be patient! (Refer to the photo)

Applying detergent solution

4. Following the previous step, leave alone the film for 2-3 minutes. Within this period, the chemical reaction has started doing its work. Rewind the film back into the canister, and leave your darkroom.

Working in the kitchen
1. Pour water with height approximately 4 to 5 cm of water into the pot.
2. Heat it on a stove. After 5 minutes (the results varies with the fire intensity), turn the stove off when the water is boiling. Now, put the film into the boiled water for a minute. Stir the film while stewing it, to release the air in the canister. (Stir it like stirring a real soup!)
※Warning: Not to overheat it, the surface of the film will be wrinkled. (Refer to the photo)
3. Then cool it in cold water for a minute.

Heating water
The result of overheating (developed film)

Working in the darkroom, again
1. In the darkroom, pull the film all out from the canister.
2. Throw your film inside a pot containing water, gently rinse the chemical off from the surface. Do not exert too much strength on the emulsion side.
3. Dry the film with hairdryer, as if it is not done so, the film will stick together adjacently after being rewound into the canister. Alternatively, you could leave it dry in a non-transparent bag for drying if you do not own a hairdryer.
4. Rewind the film when the film is fully dry.

Drying the film

For the processing procedure, just do it as usual. But before leaving the lab, please keep in mind of the objective of film soup. Dependent on your way of cooking, remember to clean up the film and process afterwards. (Remember to do regular quality checking on your scanner and processing chemicals)

Above is the full set procedure in making a film soup!

The results may present differently even the procedure are ultimately the same. The photos may differ slightly each and every time. The results may also be influenced by different factors, such as different emulsion, exposure balance and exposed object etc. According to my experience, cross-processed slide film did not fail to produce dreamy effects. And of course, it is another saying while you are using different kind of cameras. Do not forget this is my personal favorite recipe, I would not claim myself as a pro, so why not try it yourself with different kind of ‘ingredients’ to spice up your Lomographs!? It maybe a failure, but it may also turn with extraordinarily fantastic results that your ever could have! Let’s take this as an enjoyable ‘cooking session’ and try it yourself!
Enjoy your cooking life!

written by hodachrome and translated by an_lai_drew


  1. buckshot


    Your cooking looks really tasty ;-) Would like to try this too, but isn't there a risk that the detergent will pollute the lab's chemicals? I wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining the films of customers who came afterwards. I guess if you rinse the film extremely well, there's less risk. Any thoughts on this before I try it? Thanks for the great article.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  2. mafiosa


    Thank you for a very detailed description :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  3. hodachrome


    Thanks for the likes and the comments!
    Yes, we will have to pay the biggest attention to the part of rinse. I always try to rinse as perfect as I can, but still the lab don't know how it's rinsed well or not until it's developed. In my case I hear that the lab (not lomo lab) rinses the souped-film again by themselves to protect from the chemical damage. And lomo lab Tokyo says they are not prepared to receive that kinda films at present. We will have to keep in mind that it is not welcome for them. And before trying we will have to ask the lab we use if they can accept it. I should have written more about it on article.. Maybe I 'll ask some modification or addition soon.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  4. kekskonstrukt


    great article and awesome results! :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  5. luffyblu


    Tricky process but the resulting images are amazing! I have to try it one day. Good work chef! :)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  6. weaver


    is it advised then to send these sorts of films to the lomo lab as opposed to hometown lab?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  7. stories

    If I don't have a darkroom, but rinse the film as best as possible, can I send it off to a lab/drugstore/etc for development?
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  8. ping-junior


    ^______^ woww.....

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  9. valmary


    I have to try this! Thank you!
    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  10. threemoons


    This looks awesome; it makes me want to find an amateur darkroom and start playing!

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  11. eugenionesta



    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  12. coolbober


    So do you expose your film before or after the stewing?

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  13. aguillem


    We could find an agreement with our photographers, if they develop our cooked films just before to change the chemicals.
    But I don't know if they change all the chemicals in the same time, etc.

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  14. saskiaboer



    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  15. hodachrome


    Exposure first, then cook =)

    over 1 year ago · report as spam
  16. jinx77


    How "dim" does the room have to be to ensure the film is not ruined when drying it? Is it okay to hand dry the film in a hallway that is almost pitch black except for the faint moonlight coming through the cracks under the door?
    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  17. ihave2pillows


    love it :)

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  18. stonerfairy


    holy molly! This is crazy!!

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  19. xgitte


    awesome colors!

    about 1 year ago · report as spam
  20. double_exposure


    so doing this!!!
    6 months ago · report as spam
  21. linilein


    Hallo, this might be a stupid question I guess, but I've never worked in a darkroom and now i can use one in university, so the question is: I have to do it in total darkness, I cannot let the greenlight we have switched on can I ?
    4 months ago · report as spam
  22. hodachrome


    Sorry for the late reply. Yes you have to do it in a total darkroom. Need a experience, to get used to do well. I 'm afraid I don't understand the last part.. greenlight?

    3 months ago · report as spam
  23. linilein


    no problem, ok so I'll do it in total darkness... yes in my university we have such green light in the darkroom... :)
    3 months ago · report as spam

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The original version of this article is written in: 日本語. It is also available in: Türkçe, Français, Русский, Deutsch & 中文(繁體版).