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The Silver Eye : Jacques Revon : The ecological alternative developer with black tea


Jacques Revon explores in this chapter the use of an ecological alternative developer made with black tea.

“Film photography is initially authentic because the negative remains, even if one day it is scanned and therefore becomes digital at the risk, as we know, of being later manipulated.” JR


Alternative developer made with black tea.

300 to 500 ml depending on your tank type are generally necessary to develop a 24X36 / 36 view format film (1.70 meters long) and 600 ml for a 120 / 6X6 film.

I first wanted to start my tests with green tea (test 1) under the same conditions as the parameters indicated below for making a developer with black tea. (tests 2,3,4 5 6.).

I quickly realized that the results with green tea were not conclusive to my taste (quite yellow negative and unsatisfactory development). So I then decided to develop with black tea and this tea is visibly richer in polyphenols.

I therefore advise you to choose black tea as an alternative developer. The results obtained at different temperatures and development times are much better. But I will continue my research with green tea, it will probably be necessary to modify certain parameters…


Two operations are therefore necessary to obtain 500 ml of black tea developer.

A Infusion of black tea.

B Dilution of the three products in order.


1 Infusion of 25 grams of black tea.

Pour the 500 ml of water which has boiled at 90° over the black tea already placed in the teapot. Leave to infuse for 6 to 7 minutes, then pour the 500 ml of infused black tea obtained into a utensil filled with cold water to lower the temperature, if possible to around 24°. Let it rest for the time necessary to reach this temperature.


2 Second operation:

Dissolve in black tea, gently and correctly this time at around 22°, the necessary products indicated below for making your alternative developer, in order, one after the other:

– 40 grams of sodium carbonate / temperature to dissolve products from 20° to 23°.

– 8 grams of vitamin C

– 4 grams of iodized salt

– At the end of this operation, always and each time, remember to filter the obtained mixture using a paper filter, such as a coffee filter, so as not to leave fine particles which could harm  your development, if necessary filter several times. Then add two drops of Photo-Flo solution or a wetting agent to your developer, to promote its action on the entire emulsion.


3 Caution: before developing, always pre-wet your film or film in temperate water for approximately five minutes in order to start the action of your developer, then empty the tank of water and move to the development itself.


4 Test 1 development film 6X6 DAIX HORTENSIA development with green tea 22° / 13 mins

Test 2 development film 6X6 DAIX HIBISCUS development with black tea 24°.5 / 16 min.

Test 3 development film 6×6 MESSANGES development with black tea 24°.5 / 17 mins

Test 4 development film 24X36 DAIX CARRELEUR development with black tea at 26° / 25 mins

Test 5 development film 24X36 DAIX CADOLE development with black tea 24°/ 21 min

Test 6 development film 6X6 DAIX DEAD LEAVES development with black tea 24° / 25 mins


5 Fixing for 3 minutes here in HYPAM Ilford 1+4 at 20° then a classic wash for 10 minutes, emptying the contents of the tank every 2 minutes.


Better yet, to save water when washing your film, which is increasingly necessary today, I suggest the method recommended by Jost. j. Marchesi in the book ILFORD PROCÉDÉ NEGATIVE published in 1980 by Editions Jean Spinatsch in Geneva, on the condition that you have fixed your film with the HYPAM fixer. –

-1 Empty the tank well to wash and rinse the spiral which contains your film.

– 2 Fill the tank with water then slowly slosh it  around 5 times.

– 3 Empty the tank again, then fill it, and this time slosh it 10 times.

– 4 Empty the tank again then fill it a third time and slosh it  20 times.

– 5 If you want your film to be kept as long as possible, then carry out the fourth operation twice more.


6 Before being hung and weighted to dry in the open air, the film  is soaked in a wetting agent for 30 seconds or in demineralized water for one minute, in order to avoid a risk of limescale stains, these stains could form and appear during drying.


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