Thursday, March 10, 2005

MacGyver Book Sample 1 -- Develop Film with Orange Juice

How to Develop Film with Orange Juice

As Seen in Episode: 070 - The Survivors. MacGyver and Pete find a crashed DEA plane while on a rugged wilderness survival test and have to flee from the drug smugglers responsible for downing the plane.

What You Need

  • Orange Juice Battery Acid (diluted)
  • Ammonia Tongs or gloves
  • Drug smugglers who have left incriminating film behind.

What You Do

  1. Find your neighborhood dark room (or turn off the lights in your closet, genius).
  2. Soak the film in orange juice for about ten minutes.
  3. Put the film out of the orange juice.
  4. Rinse film with ammonia.
  5. Post any pictures with naked women on the Internet.

Why It Works

The film in your camera records the visible light reflected from the objects in the camera's field of view. Chemicals are then used to extract that image, either by you in a darkroom or by the pimply 18-year-old teenager at the Photomat.

MacGyver's film, like all film, consists of an emulsion painted onto clear plastic or glass. An emulsion is gelatin solution containing a group of tiny crystals known as silver halides. These silver halides are extremely sensitive to light. When you click your camera shutter you open a lens, allowing reflected light off of the subject of your photo to be captured by those amazing silver halide crystals. The result is called a latent image.

Chemicals, called developers, are then used to make the latent image visible. When developing film, the goal is to convert the silver halides into metallic silver, using a series of complex and offsetting reactions with acids and bases. Bases are bitter-tasting substances like soap while acids are corrosive, sour tasting substances like lemon juice. It's a somewhat complex chemical process to go through just to get a photograph of someone's eyes closed! Oh, and did we mention this must all be done in complete darkness?

MacGyver used the orange juice as a developer. As everyone knows, orange juice contains a lot of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is actually an acid, ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a very good developer if combined with an alkaline, baking soda for instance. MacGyver skipped this step. Some commercial developer chemicals use a form of ascorbic acid as their primary ingredient. So MacGyver is on the right track.

After the developer has taken effect, and it might be a while just using orange juice, the chemical conversion process must be stopped. The step is called the stop bath. Rinsing the film with water should be sufficient to stop the process.

Next, a fixer is used to dissolve the undeveloped silver halides. If one does not dissolve the undeveloped halides then when your film is exposed to light, it will go entirely black! As a fixer, MacGyver used ammonia, which is a very strong base.

Here's the chemical formula:

Developer + Fixer = Film Orange Juice (C2H4O2) + Ammonia (NH4) = Film

Hey, we left out the battery acid! And MacGyver should have, too. It was unnecessary. Battery acid, also known as sulfuric acid is sometimes used a part of a bleaching agent to reduce the contrast in the developed film to achieve an artistic effect. If you ask us, the last thing you want to be doing is being artsy with sulfuric acid.

And for all you caffeine addicts, feel free to substitute coffee for orange juice. The caffeic acid, we couldn't believe either, makes an excellent developer. Just remember to stir in a spoonful of baking soda before you dip the undeveloped film.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never watched MacGyver but, I saw a mythbusters where they tried this and failed but, I never knew and I'm glad you've explained it all here. I guess it's just one of those things art school won't teach you.

12:57 PM  

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