04: The Triumph of Chemistry [2 February 2013]

Yesterday, with the help of Marcy Held (who has stopped by to hang out a number of times while she's visiting campus on a semester-long class project) and one of the students in my experimental photographic chemistry class, I developed my first piece of film without the benefit of a darkroom or any commercially-produced developers. After some attempts to brush up on my chemistry knowledge by reading a few research papers and a lot of Wikipedia, I have a little bit of understanding of why Caffenol works at least as well as D-76 for developing film; as it turns out, molecules that resemble each other perform similar actions.

My next task is to find a fixer replacement that I can get without having to go through a chemistry lab or a specialty photography supplier. Meanwhile, I'm amusing myself by taking over one of the fume hoods in the lab here; in addition to all the compounds they supplied me, there is now a bottle of vitamin supplements, a jar of the finest Folger's rotgut, and some laundry supplies. The woman who did the purchasing for me looked like she really wanted to ask me a lot of questions but decided it was probably best not to.

picture from 04