Category Archives: lab talk

my first experiments with the sabatier effect


When I scanned the roll of fomapan 400 I shot at cannon beach in oregon, I thought about trying something different in the dark room: the sabatier technique. the process calls for an additional exposure to a constant light source half through the development and finishing the development afterwards. It’s best to stop the development process in water, dry to paper and put it back under the enlarger using a grey filter to expose the frame equally. the effect doesn’t have much impact on the dark parts of the print  but darkens the lighter parts significantly. a halo around the edges of light and shadow should be visible as well as a result of chemical exhaustion caused by the darker parts of the image. therefore the image is not to be agitated during the second half of the development. working with a high contrast paper will give stronger effects.

Man Ray was a master of this technique in the early twentieth century. He used the effect by producing paper negatives for doing another print reversing the lighter halo to a dark edge around the subjects.


I chose a different approach. I only wanted the effect applied to parts of the photograph and also avoid the mess with putting the wet print back into the paper holder. Since my developing time is two minutes, I took the prints out after about eighty seconds into the first development. doing it earlier didn’t result to any effect while doing it earlier left me with a dark mess. I also forgot not to agitate during the second stage of development.

After eighty seconds I stopped the development in water and applied some local exposure with my mobile phone. Yes, it’s right. I used the screen of my phone as light source counting to four and circling around in about twenty centimeter above the image. afterwards I developed the print for the remaining forty seconds. all together I printed four version and the original that night. Each of the versions is unique and is very different in expression. The two images posted in the blog are my favorites.

Even though I didn’t follow the sabatier technique religiously and tried my own version of it, I succeeded in getting a unique effect changing the look of a rather common imagine into something different. The two images show that I was able to produce a bit of halo around the dark areas as well as a reversal effect in the brighter parts. My next steps with the technique is to go a step backwards again and practice a more controlled approach.

The original photo can be found here. the prints were done on bergger prestige fiber paper.



First look: Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus

Going on a trip always means seeing new things, meeting different people, eating less known food but also taking lots of new films with you and trying to figure out how to develop them to achieve the wanted look. Of course there is a risk to it: it might not come out the way you imaged it or it could be totally messed up. People tend to do these kind of experiments with shots somewhere around home and easily accessible. But isn’t that kind of boring looking at motives you’ve seen and taken pictures of for so many times? And what’s the worst case scenario messing up completely? You got to go back. Is that really that bad?

On my last trip, I took three films to develop it in the new Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus which is marketed a a fine grain developer for t-grain and conventional films with slow and average speed. Here are the films:

  1. Kodak TriX which I usually don’t like for it’s high contrast which needs to be tamed.
  2. Fomapan 400 which I like especially developed in Caffenol, Kodak HC110 and Spuersinn HCDnew.
  3. Fomapan 100 which is a bit flat and not really sharp.

The Ultrafin T-Plus (datasheet here) comes in 500ml bottles and costs 15€ here in Germany. According to the datasheet, thirty 135 or 120 films can be developed with one bottle which makes the developer quite economical with 0.50€ per film. The opened bottle can be stored for about six month and the working solution is good for about 2 month. Ultrafin T-Plus is not a one shot developer.

The list of films and the corresponding development times published by Tetenal is rather short and I didn’t find any recipes on or the Massive Dev Chart.

Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200, developed for 5:30min


The working solution. First I prepared the working solution by using one part developer and four parts water. 200ml developer and 800ml are needed for 1l solution which can be used to develop 12 rolls of film. The temperature should be around 20°C.

Watering the film. I know there is some people having arguments that pre-soaking the film isn’t really necessary. However, I usually do it anyway since it doesn’t seem to hurt.

Developing the film. Sometimes it needs to be a little bit of calculation to get the correct developing time. I like to push or pull films to get the best out of the situation.

  1. Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200: 8:15min – 20% for pulling 1 stop – 1min for developer 22°C = 5:30min
  2. Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200: 7:30min – 15% for pulling 1 stop – 30sec for developer at 21°C = 6min
  3. Fompan 100 rated at ISO 100: 4:30min

The tank needs to be agitated for the first 30sec and afterwards 2x every 30sec.

Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200, developed for 6min


Stop bath and fixing. I usually just stop with water. Sometimes, when the developing time is short, I also use stop bath. I don’t think it really matters. The fixer I use is standard and I usually give it 5min with 30sec agitation right at the beginning and 10x after 2:30min.

Watering. I agitated 10x, 20x and finally 30x in fresh water. Afterwards I used a washing aid diluted 1+500 for 5min and hang the film up for drying afterwards.

Fomapan 100 developed for 4:30min.


The result. I think all three films deliver good results. The TriX and the Fomapan 400 are excellent. They show good contrast, sharpness and a nice grain. The TriX was used in difficult light right into the lens and film/developer did a great job. The Fomapan 400 is super sharp and the grain is perfect for a 400 speed film. Both films are pretty good to be pulled and I’m going to use the combination of films and developer again. The Fomapan 100 shows a lot of little white spots in the brighter areas of the film. Contrast and sharpness are extremely good for a 100 ISO film. However, the white spots are annoying.

The next steps. I will post the results of a Fomapan 100 I used with a red filter and I shot an Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 200 which I plan to develop in Ultrafin T-Plus as well.



A good night out

It’s been a long time since i posted anything on my blog. Many things go through my head but the time’s always running out.

So, I got this new toy recently, a Mamiya 645Pro with a 45mm/2.8 lens, and I went to try it out. I loaded some Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO 1250 with the plan to shoot at a outdoor concert in the evening. Last but not least, I wanted to try the new Spur Ultraspeed Vario which sounds promising for pushing and pulling film as well.

Not yet totally dark I started shooting trying out the fast shutter speed of the Mamiya 645Pro.



When KaLi a pretty cool rock band based in Regensburg came on to the stage, the real fun started and the audience finally had a chance to warm up. And yes, focusing was still OK.



Afterwards Sahara hit the stage. I wanted to see them since Nick Woodlands is part of the band. I’ve seen him before and liked his Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers style. It turned out that Sahara played a very different tune and I didn’t like it very much. I ended up taking some more images having difficulties focusing in the dark and walking off before they even finished playing. The audience, mostly old folk who’s been following Sahara for the past 40 years, seemed to enjoy it, though.



The Mamiya 645Pro is fun to use. I’ve used other 645 format cameras but like this one the most, by far. A Pentax 645N with autofocus and all the goodies died on me and I don’t want to pay for revitalizing measures. I also got a Fuji GS645 but don’t really enjoy the handling. The Mamiya 645Pro gives me the right feeling and releasing the shutter feels good. It’s not easy to focus when it’s dark. maybe I can find a different screen for more focusing convenience.

Maybe some words about the Spur Ultraspeed Vario. It seems to do its job for pushing Delta 400 to 1250. I’m not totally sure how to meter a scene like this. It’s certainly dark and some details in the shadows can be sacrificed. Yet, I find it quite confusing, taking the readings, setting the camera and taking the picture.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro

Lens: Mamiya 45mm/2.8

Film: Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO1250

Developer: Spur Ultraspeed Vario (two component developer, datasheet)


Expired and exposed ORWO NP27 – The expired film page

Here is another ebay purchase: Seventeen old films made by ORWO. I looked through the films and found a NP27 (ISO400) that was exposed and expired in July 1981. I developed it in Kodak  HC110 1+100 for 2h. The film showed strong fogging but some images could be saved.

On the pictures I found a woman in the kitchen and a dog. I contacted the ebay seller and got the information that the guy who owned the films just passed away in his nineties in Grimma, Saxonia. Since the film expired in 1981, I guess it was shot in the seventies in East Germany. Apparently, the guy was an engineer. However, there is no more information.






Caffenol workshop wrap-up

Here is the complete album of images taken during the Caffenol workshop weekend in Salzburg. I shot 3 films with my Praktica MTL5b. Unfortunately the camera had some issues with film transport. I guess I got to try and check what’s wrong with it

Anyway i had a fun weekend, met nice people and shot some cool frames. I know it’s a bit nerdy to test three films. I haven’t really found my favorite combinations yet. You might think I have a structured approach. Believe me, I don’t … I use whatever film is in the fridge and whatever I feel like.


Here again the links to the organizers: Dirk Essl and Marco Spalluto with lots of images and info about developing film in coffee. Many thanks to Lisa from the Leica Galerie Salzburg as well. They do have an Elliott Erwitt exhibition which is worthwhile a visit until the 12th of October.

About the results: I like the Fomapan 400 for the smooth grain. I guess it only works for motives that have not much fine and sharp detail and open up into some blur. Contrast isn’t really high but pleasant in my opinion. I know people who say it’s a bit flat but maybe our eyes are trained to see digital photos. The Kodak TMAX 100 is quite the opposite: strong in contrast, no visible grain and still enough sharpness in the details. However, lots of the tonality in the middle of the gray scale is lost. The Delta 400 is somewhere in between: nice grain, good sharpness and good contrast.

Ilford Delta 400:

Kodak TMAX 100:

Fomapan 400: