Bless the web and the many inspirations you can find for analogue experiments. While browsing online, we stumbled across an article that highlighted Echinacea flowers and their high component of caffeic acid.
A little spark went off in our minds. This is the same component that develops in Caffenol! We knew then that we had to find a recipe to create an alternative developing solution using Echinacea for black and white films. For this experiment we used a roll of Potsdam Kino B&W 120 ISO 100.
First things first, we had to brew the flowers in order to get the most out of the bioactive ingredients. We figured that the best way to extract it would be via infusion. For black and white developing solutions, we can not use any ethanol for extracting the compound as it would alter the chemistry.
We harvested some dry flowers, and collected 12 grams initially. That turned out to be not enough for a film developing solution. So we then bought some more at a local pharmacy and used 30 gr.
To maintain the properties of the flowers, it is best not to boil the water. High water temperature tends to kill many bioactive ingredients. We warmed 350 ml of water and infused the leaves for three days, then proceeded to filter any residue of the flowers from the brew.
In our first attempt, we tried this dosage: 12 gr of Echinacea flowers, 10 gr of washing soda, and 7 of vitamin C. This turned out not to be strong enough, so we went back online to investigate if anyone else had ever developed using this flower.
What a delight it was to find the work of Dagie Brundert. On her informative blog about alternative developing solutions, we could discover a recipe, and this time we successfully developed our film!
- 30 gr of echinacea
- 80 gr of washing soda
- 20 gr of vitamin C
As usual with self-made solutions, it is important that we carefully dissolve the washing soda crystals and the vitamin C. Once they are both added, they will foam. It is best to mix everything in a tall container.
The temperature should be at 20℃, just like for any other black and white developer. Once you have reached the correct temperature, start your process. We developed for 30 minutes. We started with one minute of agitation; then for 7 minutes we agitated for 10 seconds every minute, and after that, we agitated every two minutes for 10 inversions. As usual, 4 minutes fixing, a full minute washing under running water, then hypo cleaning solution. Finally, dry and scan.
The images you can see here are right out of the scanner. This is one of the most alluring alternative developing recipes we could find. The negatives appear to be extremely clean and not fogged compared to other brews that we have tried, which makes it optimal for a good print as well. Considering also that this time we didn't prewash the film before starting, it is a wonderful result.
We will definitely be keeping this recipe as one of our top solutions, and we are glad we came across this plant and its powerful bioactive ingredients.
What is your favorite alternative developer solution? Share your experiences in the comments below.