What’s in your mind when you look at the Lomograph below? Flashy, dreamy, disgusting, dazzling? Or “Is my screen dead?!” I believe there are different opinions out there. But, no matter how you feel about this Lomograph, it surely conveys a different kind of visual 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, I have experienced cooking the film soup myself and would like to share my secret recipe to all of you.
Caution: The following recipe accompanied unexpected risk, please take your own risk while stewing your film, and thereafter.
Step 1: Take Pictures
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 underexposure, as chemical reactions tend to enhance the negative effect of the film. Talking about my experience, a slight overexposure yielded a very good result. After finishing your roll, keep the film all the way into the cartridge and into the box.
Step 2: Collect the Ingredients and Materials
Here’s a list of what you’ll be needing for this film soup:
- 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 afterward)
Step 3: Prepare the Detergent Solution
Dissolve the detergent in hot water. Control the ratio of detergent to water according to your preference. I personally mix with a 1:1 ratio. Then, keep it stirring until it is fully dissolved.
Step 4: Apply the Detergent Solution
Pull the film all the way out of the canister. Careful! Do not tear the film off of the canister. Use the clip to fix the film onto the wall, with the emulsion surface facing upwards. Check out the photo below for reference:
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 below:
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.
Step 5: Stewing the Film Roll
Pour water with a height of approximately 4 to 5 cm of water into the pot. 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!
Take caution! Do not overheat it, the surface of the film will be wrinkled. Refer to the photo below: Then cool it in cold water for a minute.
Step 6: Dry Out the Film
In the darkroom, pull the film all out from the canister. 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. 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. Rewind the film when the film is fully dry.
Step 7: Process 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 afterward. 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 a 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 may be a failure, but it may also turn with extraordinarily fantastic results that you ever could have! Let’s take this as an enjoyable ‘cooking session’ and try it yourself! Here are some of my film soup results with a redscale film:
Enjoy your cooking life! Here are other film soup recipes you can try:
- Film Experiments: A Roll of Film Soaked in Red Wine
- Film Manipulation: Mixing Bleach, Detergent and Negatives
- Doused in Rainbow: A Film Soup Experiment by Wendy Laurel