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The Silver Eye : Jacques Revon : Significantly expired negative color film and film developed in standard black and white developers and in alternative ecological developers


Today I invite you to return to the beginning of my tests and research into alternative developers. In fact, a year ago, I carried out my first processings in this type of developer. I started by using old expired black and white and color film. I had carefully inherited them from my photographer father, telling me that these emulsions could perhaps be useful to me later.

Forty years have passed, and in the summer of 2023 in the middle of a heatwave, I decided, out of curiosity, to use them to begin my experiments in alternative developers. Here, temperatures were commonly around 35 degrees. What’s better than taking refuge in your little lab and developing to keep cool?

The photographs that I attach in this article are therefore taken from my first research on the subject: expired color negative films and in “cross development” both in classic black and white developers and in some of my own alternative ecological developers.

In this article I have chosen to share with you some results obtained in known black and white developers, such as the ID11 and the Microphen, but also in two alternative developers, one in coffee and the other in wine made from the Baco grape variety. I dare say here that the results are astonishing, you will judge for yourselves.

Having worked for several years as a photographer for a major manufacturer of photographic films and papers, Ilford to name it, I honestly would never have dared this experience. It was impossible at that time to imagine it possible to correctly develop black and white and color emulsions, which had been out of date for a long time, and what’s more in natural alternative mixes. I had always been told that films had a short shelf life of around three years or less, and that it was enough to respect the expiring date printed on the packaging.

As you will see in an image, my surprise was even greater when I discovered in a box, an old expired Agfacolor film in 6X6 format taken by my father. It was mentioned: “exposed”. The emulsion had been dormant for 44 years.

I therefore decided, with some apprehension, to wisely develop this film in a classic black and white developer, while also asking myself a multitude of questions. What was I going to discern on the really old negatives… maybe nothing?

Imagine how big my surprise to discover in one of the 12 images in this film, the presence of a 3 or 4 year old child! A child I knew very well (photo).

Film photography has always been truly magical, and I hope it will stay that way. Let us hope, of course, that the few remaining specialized companies are willing to continue manufacturing.

In this area, we are hearing more and more often about stock shortages. So, will this beautiful magic disappear one day too?

Let’s hope as late as possible, because new generations, and more or less young people curious about previous technologies, are becoming more and more interested in them.

To continue dreaming a little, here are some images. If you feel like giving your opinion on this film adventure, do not hesitate.

Jacques Revon
Honorary journalist, author, photographer.

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