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The Silver Eye : Jacques Revon : The ecological alternative developer with different aromatic herbs


Jacques Revon explores in this chapter the use of an ecological alternative developer made with different aromatic herbs.

“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 different aromatic herbs.

Your choice of a developer with a single or several associated aromatic herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary, mint and cloves.

400 ml to 700 ml depending on your type of tank are generally necessary to develop in a small tank a 24X36 / 36 views format film (1.70 meters long) or a 120 / 6X6 film (width 6 cm length 80 cm).

In our garden, I have been lucky to have had aromatic herbs for a long time: sage, rosemary, mint and thyme.

I would add that you can, if you wish, buy commercially available cloves also rich in polyphenols, which you can add, if you wish, to one of your decoction compositions. (however more difficult to master in terms of proportions).


Phase A. To prepare an alternative developer with aromatic herbs, you will first need to weigh each picked herb that you have decided to use to make your alternative developer. It is advisable to only keep the leaves of your herb and preferably dried.

We can therefore make an alternative developer with a single herb as well as with a more subtle mixture of several different aromatic herbs.

For my part, I tried several formulas: first a single herb then, several mixed herbs.

I remind you here that the manufacture of an alternative developer is in some ways a very personal adventure and that the tests and research in this area are, in my opinion, almost endless. The results obtained are diverse and most often depend on the contrasts you wish to obtain from your negatives.

For any developer that you wish to make, you will first need to prepare, in this case, a decoction of the leaves of one or several aromatic herbs together.

During my numerous development tests, I have not yet noted any notable differences in weight in grams to take into account for this or that quantity of dried or fresh herb. However, nothing is certain here, so I am continuing my approaches in this area.

To weigh your leaves on a gram scale, place them in a small container, having first taken care to “weigh” your container. I also advise you to first crush your herbs in a mortar, using a pestle, to allow the herb to release all of its active ingredients during the decoction.


Phase B. Then, put the leaves for three minutes in a saucepan of cold water, preferably 700 ml, to take into account evaporation during the decoction.
Bring the water to a boil then let rest for around fifteen minutes, to release and thus benefit from all the active ingredients of your aromatic herbs. During the decoction, stir your herbs in the pot from time to time.


Phase C. Once this decoction operation is completed, let the new liquid cool slowly, then filter it using a paper filter such as a coffee filter, in order to remove all remaining particles. If you consider it necessary, filter a second time so as not to leave fine particles which could later cause small spots during the development of your film.


Phase D. It will constitute, as in the previous types of developers manufactured, to dissolve well and in order, of the three products necessary for the manufacture of your alternative developer: namely: sodium carbonate, vitamin C and salt iodine.


Reminder. In my first article published during the presentation of alternative developments, I indicated the chemical role of each of these three products which are each included in the composition of such a developer. (see article).


Phase E. Before developing a film or film, always pre-wet your film or film already placed in the tank, with water tempered at around 20° for five minutes, then empty the water then only after, start pouring your new developer and develop.

Soon I will offer you the recipe card for a developer made using one of my aromatic herbs, a recipe made with a development using sage rich in polyphenols.

Today, I already invite you to discover different examples of scanned negatives, from my development tests and from which you will be able to discover gradually, the sheets / recipes of the different alternative developers made with certain aromatic herbs.

Jacques Revon
Honorary journalist, author, photographer.

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