Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coffee Plus X-Rays Equals Art!

I recently began photographing with an 110 year old 8x10 camera. Its a lovely heavy beast which requires rather expensive sheet film. I really enjoy using it and have been actively seeking economical ways to make this camera usable on a weekly basis.  One thing that Large Format photographers have been using instead of costly film is X-Ray film. It comes in most sizes, even more commonly 8x10. So here is a readymade orthochromatic film that can be used cheaply! The problem is there are no specifications toward using it as a photographic film. So a good bit of experimentation is required.

8x10 X-Ray Film image by Holden Richards

The main problem is developer/development time. Which developer gets the best results. I tried several with the outcome usually being that the negative was uneven or blotched in some way. After a few near-hits I stumbled across a Flickr user who was experimenting with Caffenol (an instant coffee and vitamin c based homebrew film developer) and it seemed to yield a smooth perfect negative. So now when I develop X-Ray film I'm in the darkroom mixing kitchen safe materials into film developer. The recipes for caffenol can be found at 


Michale said...

Thanks for the marvelous posting! i love this image

Bartholomew said...

I love this image i like very Holden

Michael said...

Your photos of the trees are great. Would you tell more about the xray film you use for the photos. What type and have you found a good place to buy it from. I have been making paper negatives with my homemade 8x10 camera and want to move up to film.