lomo lovers tipster: Film Soup

nicO (flickr) is fast becoming an expert in creating fantastic photography using film soups. With the help of Nic and inspiring film photography site coolgirlsshootfilm.tumblr.com, here’s some tips to experiment with.

Film Soups are a way of distressing your film so that you get unpredictable effects. There are many ways to distress film, here is one using silica gel, water and washing powder.

Materials you need:

1 x large bowl

A tablespoon full of hand washing powder

A cup full of silica gel

A cup full of cold, boiled water

You can buy silica gel from Amazon or from some larger craft stores. In these volumes it’s often used for drying flowers for pressing. I bought 500g which is enough for a lot of film soup.

step 1: Make the soup!

Grab a suitable container for your Film Soup bath. I use a glass mixing bowl. Add one cup of silica gel and one cup of boiled water to the bowl. Add a heaped tablespoon full of hand washing powder and stir really well.

Step 2: Add the films
At this point you want to dunk some films into the mixture and leave them there for a while. You can choose any kinds of film and you’ll get different results depending on the film you choose.
Place the films into the mixture and make sure they’re completely immersed in the soup.
Cover the bowl so your pets/children/friends don’t drink it by accident!

Step 3: Take the films out

After two or three days, take the films out of the soup. Don’t leave the films in for too long, they might get too distressed!

Step 4: Dry the films
Leave the films in a warm place for a day or so. Then use a hair dryer and a dark room (or your bathroom with bin bags taped over the window…) to pull the film out and dry it off thoroughly. You might find some of the films don’t spool very well after they’ve been in the soup. Just unspool and respell them until they are running free and easily.

Step 5: Load and shoot!

You can shoot these as normal. I usually shoot multiple exposures but experiment and see what happens!

Step 6: Develop, and be prepared

Once you’ve shot a roll, drop it in the lab and see what you get back. Be prepared for failure – these are experiments, after all! If they’re too blistered or damaged then reduce the potency of your mixture, leave the films in for less time. If there’s not enough warping and weirdness for your taste, try something else, or leave it in the soup for a little longer.

Step 7: Try other soup

You can make a film soup out of nearly anything – see the amazing Cool Girls Shoot Film blog for some more ideas:


All photography by nic0 (flickr) (these are all silica gel ones) showing varying amounts of soupiness


4 thoughts on “lomo lovers tipster: Film Soup

  1. Very very interesting! Just a bit hard to get the dark place to dry them in.
    Step 2 and 3, do you leave the film in the film cannister? Just take it out during the drying process with the hairdryer?
    I’ve seen pictures from films washed in a dishwasher machine too, also great reults, but I always stumble upon these issues above, how to do this most practically.
    Thank you for sharing this, most interesting!

    • You’ll have to climb under your duvet in a dark room at night 😉

      yep, keep them in the canisters when you have them in the soup. You can leave them to dry naturally, but doesn’t always work as well.

  2. Pingback: film soup – tried and tested | lomolovers

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