After a break of a couple of years I decided to get back into analogue photography last autumn.

I was going on a trip to Belarus and wanted some instant photos to stick into my journal so picked up a second-hand Fuji instant camera and a couple of packs of instant film. I liked the results but not the price of the film. So, I went back online and got a Canon Ixus APS camera and some old film. The photos were amazing so I sold on the Fuji and kept the Canon.

I gave away my Praktika TL1000 a few years ago but had a hankering to go back to the pre-digital SLR age. A Pentax SFXn came my way for a few pounds so I stocked up with batteries and old Fomapan B & W film. I have since added a no brand plastic camera and several throwaway cameras to the analogue armoury. Each camera and each film is unique so I get some interesting results.

The downside of the analogue resurgence is the cost of developing film. It is a trek to find the developing shop which can do my APS and the B & W has to be sent away. The solution is the Caffenol Developing Process.

As is the way of things, all three sets of digital scales in my cupboard are malfunctioning and the thermometer cracked when placed in water.  I consulted the web and found a process using spoons on Look up “recipes.”

Two stage developer

  • 240ml Water, 7 rounded Teaspoons of Instant Coffee (I used M&S)
  • 100ml Water, 4 Teaspoons of Washing Soda (I used DP washing soda)
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vitamin C (got the powder off the internet)

Equipment needed:

  • A dark room changing bag
  • A developing tank with spiral wheel
  • A pair of scissors
  • A can opener
  • A couple of spoons
  • A couple of jugs or bottles
  • A timer
  • Squeegee
  • A used film


First, put everything you need into the changing bag and close it up. Put your arms through the holes and spend some time fiddling about trying to get the cap off the film.. When you have done that get the film out. Snip off the shaped end bit which feeds into the camera spool. Attach newly shorn end into the niches on the reel. Spool entire film on. Snip off end bit attached to the cannister spool. All film should be nicely attached. If not, then the developing mix cannot really get to all parts and not all the film is developed. Place the reel onto the centre column and lock into developing tank with funnel lid firmly placed.

Put the Coffee mix into the developing tank, agitate once per second for the first minute. Leave it for another 2 minutes, agitate for 10 seconds every minute.

Pour out 100ml of Water and add the Washing Soda mix.

Agitate once per second for the first minute. Agitate for 10 seconds every minute for 9 minutes. Stand development for another 4 minutes.

Now wash out thoroughly several times. This gets rid of the coffee stuff.

When that is done you need to fix the image onto the film. You can use a salt solution or chemical fixer. Agitate several times and then pour out. Wash the film in water.

Unpack the film and get all the water off with a squeegee. Hang the film up to dry before scanning or printing.

Full information on the process is also to be found on:

I had a bash and the results were better than the first time…..

I failed to get the film onto the reel properly because I forgot to stick the scissors in the bag! And I could probably have done with timing the process better.

Here are my results:



Curiously Analogue, Part Two

Developing films at home

Film photography is back!

Kodak have even announced that they are going to restart producing some of their old films again and are looking at new films they could produce.This is good news for analogue photographers like myself.

When the Impossible Project began in 2008 by rescuing the last remaining Polaroid film factory and equipment it ensured that instant film photography would continue. Indeed, it has even gained a new life in the form of refurbished old Polaroid cameras, the Fuji Instax camera range and the Lomography instant camera range. There is still nothing like the excitement of watching a photograph develop before your eyes and the new interest in instant photography has made it possible for new generations to experience that excitement.

I have had an interest in film photography since I was a teenager and lived for many years in the company of an Olympus Trip and a Praktica TL1000. For a long time my film cameras lived side by side with a Nikon wide angle digital camera and a Sony DSLR. Eventually though finding films and then getting them developed in the UK proved to be too difficult. I sold on my analogue cameras and moved into purely digital photography.

Then, a few years ago, I came across a Lomography Sampler at the Science Museum and had a great time taking multishot images. I passed on the Lomo about the same time as I acquired a box of old 35mm film cameras from a charity shop. I created a mini museum in my flat to film photography but had to sell them all when I moved into a houseshare. It was a sad moment.

Now, life has settled down a little bit and I have more time (and money) to indulge in photography. A few months ago I purchased an old Fuji Instax 10 0n eBay and had a great time taking instant photos. The quality was none too brilliant as the camera was very basic but I had fun for a while. I sold it on a few weeks ago with the intention of buying a newer model but then …

I rediscovered 35mm film at the Photographer’s Gallery in London. Boom! I went online and acquired a Canon Ixus (which takes weird compact films) and a Pentax SLR. Old style 35mm film is not particularly expensive thanks to the Lomography company from Vienna and Foma in the Czech Republic. The cost of development is pretty hard on the pocket though. I took a film from my Ixus to be developed and got a bill for £11.99. That hurt and I realised that if I was to continue experimenting with analogue film I would need to learn how to develop my own films.

This is where I am now at.

There is a lot of interest on old style photography and film developing at the moment so I was outbid on eBay quite a few times before securing a Paterson developing tank. The tank is now sitting on the dining table ready to be used. The tanks is what films are developed in. It consists of a black plastic tank, two reels onto which you wind the film, a stirrer, a funnel and a lid to prevent the liquids seeping out. The hard bit about the developing process seems to be winding the film onto a spool in the dark.

The plan is to have a go at home developing using common household products such as instant coffee, vitamin C powder, washing soda, white vinegar and salt water. The process is called Caffenol and there is a wonderful YouTube video on it: Caffenol Photo Processing. This is also a good film on the process: HD Caffenol Processing. A group in Leicester had a go a year ago: Leicester Photography Walk with happy results.

I can’t wait to get going.





Curiously Analogue

Rediscovering Analogue Photography

I first started taking photographs with a Kodak Land Camera which was a large flat looking beast into which you asserted a film cartridge with a gel pouch at the bottom. The camera was a very basic point and shoot with the added fun that a photograph popped out of the machine. After waving it about and blowing on it for a few second the image would appear piece by piece. This was great fun and almost instant. The results were rarely great but it was the immediacy which was the fun part.

My parents had owned a Kodak Brownie before that but it had only come out on special occasions and recorded events in black and white. I still have a few of those shots to remind of obsolete traditions such as the town parade where we all dressed up and walked around the town. I was smitten with photography and at College I bought a Praktica TL1000 35mm manual Single Lens Reflex camera. In the mid1990s I supplemented it with  a Vivitar pocket camera which produced decent enough snaps with Fomapan film. I acquired a crate of processed 35mm slide and negative film which went in my mother’s loft for a few years.

In 2002 I bought a Nikon Coolpix 4300 (which I still use) for around £400 and became a total digital convert. I even gave away my Praktica. During the early part of the 21st century 35mm film became scarcer and more difficult to develop. Increasingly developing shops concentrated on digital prints. The last big outing for my Praktica was a trip to America in 2004. On that trip I used both analogue and digital cameras but the digital was winning since I could see the results instantly and not having to wait for 24 hour service. On my return, I went fully digital with a Sony DSLR.

But I still had a hankering for old film. I picked up several classic models at charity shops and online but had problems finding films. For a time I owned my own Polaroid Land Camera. The Impossible Project had rescued one of the Polaroid machines used to make the instant film cartridges but it was difficult and expensive to get the films. I eventually sold the camera on but endlessly lamented the loss.

lomo_20170114_130544  Old negative.

I rescued the box of old films and photos from my mother’s loft and spend many winters scanning them on to a PC using an Epson scanner. It was a laborious process and I got fed up of it. I purchases several specialist scanners before selling them on barely used as the results were not worth the time taken up.

I did go back to analogue briefly about 2007 when I bought a Lomography Sampler at the Science Museum in London. It was fun for a while but I had no real interest in multiple images of the same thing taken microseconds apart. I used it a while and sold it on.

church-somewhere A church. Chester Cathedral?

And then last year I paid a visit to the London Photographer’s Gallery. True I had been before but on that day I wandered down into the basement and saw all the goodies they had: Fomapan film, Kodak film, Fuji Film, Lomo film, specialist film, everyday film, throwaway cameras, instant film and camera, lots of cameras. I had an upcoming trip to Belarus and wanted to take some artistic photographs of my trip. I was sold back on analogue.

lomo_20170106_214341 Cricklewood North London.

Ebay provided me with an old Fuji Instant Camera and a couple of boxes of film, a Pentax 35mm auto SLR and batteries (it is not easy to get hold of some of these old batteries) and a Canon Ixus APX  (both around 20 years old) and I was off. The Fuji had a few outings in London but was too unpredictable for my liking and expensive to boot. It is now about to go to a new home. The Pentax is my pride and joy. I take it off to Regents Park for photo shoots. The Canon went to Belarus and the result was some excellent photographs. Now I take it everywhere.

lomo_20170114_171726 Somewhere near Prague in 1995.

I have just acquired a Lomography film scanner and my old 35mm films are coming back to life. What a  record of my travels they are! I am still getting the hang of it but already I am retrieving my past.

apartment-buildings-usti-nad-labem Apartment blocks in Usti nad Labem, CZ

It is now quite expensive to have films developed and printed so when I take my old cameras out I think about the shot rather than taking lots of shots. With this new careful consideration has come a renewed appreciation of the art of photography and I am loving it. I am hooked all over again just like I was at 19.