Not Our Usual Film Soup – Experimentation With Mold

We know from our many film soups experiments that if film emulsion comes into contact with a compound capable of altering its nature, it will leave some mark on the negatives. This time, instead of souping our Lomography Color Negative 35 mm ISO 400, we decided to bury it under a thick layer of molding rice.

This was a long process, but let's proceed step by step. Buckle up because this will be a fun ride.

Photos by Elisa Parrino

The Mold:

First we let the rice stand in some hot water and soaked it until the mold grew. It took about a month.

During this process of cultivating mold take some precautions for your health and the people living with you. We recommend that you keep the container outside your home. If you can, leave it in a garden, terrace, a balcony, or at least near a window. Besides that fact that it's not safe to be in contact with mold, the smell is also very unpleasant.

Be especially careful when opening the jar to take the film from the mold. Do not breathe deeply as the spores can be toxic.

Time Frame:

  • Mold start: 31/8/22
  • Film In 29/09/2022
  • Out 7/10/2022
  • Dried for: 20/10/22

The Film:

We shot the film before we laid it under the mold. Once inside, we let it soak for one week. From the moment you rinse the canister, it takes another two / three weeks before the film is dry and ready to be developed.

(We also tested two other rolls of film in different molds. Those rolls were submerged in the mold before being used and unfortunately the acidity of the molds was so intense that it completely destroyed the emulsion. Whatever was left was so damaged that it didn't register the light.)

Photo 1 - rice mold after four weeks. Photo 2 - film lead after one week soaking

The high acidity of the mold corroded the lead of our film as shown in the picture above. During the drying process, the velcro at the point where the film comes out also stiffened and became stuck to the leader. We then had to open it and tape the film to a new canister.

While doing so, we found that the emulsion had melted. So we had to open the whole film and let it dry in a darkroom or changing box for three days until it was dry enough to rewind in a new container.


This film could not be developed by any lab, so we needed to do it ourselves. Liquids were kept at 38℃. We pre-soaked the film for 1 minute, followed by 3.15 minutes of development, then 4 minutes of bleach and fix, and lastly 4 minutes of washing. After that, we had a 1 minute stabilizer and rinsed.

Photos by Elisa Parrino

Usually, we would spend more time rinsing, but the nature of this experiment resulted in a sensitive emulsion that kept flaking. In order to not lose more patterns and layers, we only rinsed for one minute and extracted the film to hang and dry.

In some frames the images no longer remained on the emulsion, so it was more interesting to see the patterns and colors it created.

It completely shifted the colors of the negative to intense blue and purple hues. The images were almost ghosts between the patterns of the dissolved emulsion and the mold crystals. What a beautiful synergy between the food depicted and the chemical disruptions that the acidity of the mold created. They do, come from the same natural realm, and their chemical composition shows this in unison.

Photos by Elisa Parrino

Overall this was an exciting experiment and something we embarked on to have some fun without knowing what the outcome would be like. Our curiosity pushed us to see if it was possible to get a result out of something so strange. Films are known to be sensitive but they are often more resistant than we give them credit for.

The process we subjected this roll to was quite intense. The transformation was intriguing and the images we got are highly rewarding. Everyone here at Lomography was amazed that we managed to obtain anything at all. We want to encourage you to find some experiments that excite you and let you have as much fun as we had with this one!

How far have you gone with your photographic experiments? Share your adventures in the comments below.

written by eparrino on 2022-12-01 #tutorials #film #experimental #self-development #mold #alternative-film-soup

Lomography Color Negative 400 (35mm)

You'll love the vibrant colors and stunning sharpness that the Lomography Color Negative 400 35mm film can give you.

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