The smell may not be your early morning cup or your middle of the day wake up call but instead it’s a mixture of ingredients sitting in the photo lab of Hege Cox. The experiment, called
Caffenol, was first introduced to the photography students at Guilford in Spring of 2012. You’re probably curious as to what Caffenol exactly is and how it is beneficial to photography students. The developer is not only environmentally friendly but it is cheap for students to buy instead of depending on toxic chemicals. At first glance, the process seems interesting but more like a bump in the road rather than a way to move forward in the darkroom. Many photography students have lost rolls of film due to deficient recipes or inaccurate measurements; the process definitely requires patience and a grasp on the notion that one may simply fail for quite some time.
Currently, the photo lab has completely turned into a caffenol lab and most remnants of traditional developers have disappeared into the corners and cabinets of the darkroom
- The cheapest instant coffee you can find
- Washing Soda
- Vitamin C (powder)
Each website has a different opinion on how to mix the ingredients, dissolve the coffee and washing soda, how to set the temperature, the agitation time, etc. The photography students of Hege Cox have had to use trial and error while also learning alongside Maia Dery to fully experiment with caffenol; large amounts of film have been sacrificed for the knowledge of the developer along with the sanity of several students, including myself. The use of caffenol compared to traditional developer creates room for impreciseness and exploration where normally, precision and exactness were the main point of control. Each photography student uses a different method from the next–agitation times vary, recipes can be completely different and various other ingredients can be added or taken out. Because of this, the variety within the photo department adds great creative differences and ideas are easily passed from one another. I think caffenol has been a great addition to the photo department and has allowed us to explore not only with our cameras but with our film and the printing process in the darkroom as well.