When you look for film soup recipes here in our magazine, you'll find a wide variety of the strangest concoctions. It's always exciting to see what you come up with because the results always vary. If you're about to try film souping for the first time, remember that it takes trial and error, and different factors (such as temperature, age of film, film type, and the acidity of fruits and other liquids) will influence the look of your photos.
A few reminders: Be careful when handling chemicals, keep your brews away from children and pets, and make sure that your film rolls are completely dry before processing them. If you're sending your rolls to the film lab, kindly inform them that it's been souped.
Here's a selection of film soup recipes that you might want to try.
Lemon and Time by Lars Bauwens
Ingredients: Lemon juice. And a lot of time!
While decluttering, Lars Bauwens a.k.a. @vuori found a roll of Agfa Vista marked with an 'X'. "When I opened it I saw that the film leader looked a bit greasy and dirty but I didn’t really remember what was “wrong” with it or if it was already used before, but I never heard of retracting film from a canister so it couldn’t be like that." Eventually, it occurred to him that he had experimented with this roll—ten years ago—by dunking it in lemon juice. Then, he decided to shoot double-exposures with it using his Canon EOS300. As you can see below, the citric acid left speckles, but you can still clearly see the images. See more details here.
Salt-tea Cola by Elzi Boba
Ingredients: Tea, cola, salt
If you only wish to lightly stain your photos, @elzimoose suggests a brew of tea, cola, and salt. This recipe resulted in subtle, pastel-colored tints, but remember that results may vary. She soaked the film for 6 to 8 hours but recommended an overnight soak for stronger effects. Here is the complete how-to.
Trippy Film Cocktail by Julia Svetlova
Ingredients: hot water, and any liquid that you wish to add (she's tried a variety—from liquid soap to floor polish to apple cider vinegar and soy sauce)
Julia Svetlova (@neja) is so fond of film souping that she published a book about this process. Basically, she submerges the film in hot water for 20 minutes, then adds any type of liquid, and leaves the film to soak for at least 24 hours. "Don’t forget to extract the end of your film from the canister before soaking your film up; it will be nearly impossible to do so after the film gets wet." Read more about her technique here.
Coffee and Tears by Anca Pandrea
Ingredients: Espresso, coarse salt
Anca Pandrea (@ofchanceandchoice) recalls the time she first encountered film souping: "What is that, and why do people risk ruining their films this way?" She tried it anyway and ended up loving it. One of her favorite film brews is called "Coffee and Tears". She explains, "I like thinking about soup recipes as poetry in their own right. I try to find ingredients that tell a story and find an appropriate name for the final concoction." For this recipe, she uses espresso and coarse salt. The results, as you below, are stains, grains, and distortion. You may read more about it here.
Californian Lemonade by Katie Small
Ingredients: Sonoma white wine, lemon juice, detergent
California native Katie Small was inspired to try film soup when she recovered a disposable camera drenched with salt water during a surf session. When she started film souping, film labs refused to accept her rolls, so she learned to develop the film on her own. Now she continues to create analogue magic using her special concoctions, one of which is this mixture of white wine, lemon juice, and detergent. See how it's done here!
Have you ever tried film soup? What's your favorite recipe? Share them in the comments!