converting color to B&W: all analog?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by B-3, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. B-3

    B-3 Member

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    I recently spoke with a film photographer who told me that he shoots all in color, but converts many of his images to B&W in order to make prints for sale. Is it possible to do this as an entirely analog process, without resorting to a digital stage? I ask because he didn't refer to any digital steps, and he is vehemently anti-digital, so I'm assuming he must be doing this "all analog". My personal preference has been to work with b&w film, but I'm curious to know if there might be other options to experiment with. Could I possibly do this too?

    (forgive me if this is a dumb question)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2005
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Bruce,

    Assuming the photographer is using color negative film, it's simple to get B & W prints on Kodak Panalure. I've done this at various times, but I'm not sure if Panalure is still being made. Even if it is, the contrast range is limited; I think that only two different grades were ever produced.

    If the originals are color transparencies, it will be necessary to make a copy negative. That's not too hard, but the resulting prints will probably lack the crispness of prints made from normal B & W negatives, especially if the transparencies are 35mm or on faster film--or both.

    Konical
     
  3. pitchertaker

    pitchertaker Member

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    It's entirely possible he is merely sending his color negs to a lab and requesting a b&w neg in return. If so, they are probably doing it digitally -- a very easy process. As you may know, many, many alternative process print makers use digital negatives. But like Konical said, they way it was done in the past was with Kodak's Panalure. It is possible to print a color neg with a VC paper, but I've never seen a satisfactory print doing it this way.

    pitchertaker
     
  4. B-3

    B-3 Member

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    Thank you, Konical.

    It's been a very long time since I've used transparency film - how does one make a copy negative? Would the results be sharp enough to make small prints - say up to 8x10 or so? Or does it make a potentially pleasing diffusion effect?

    If one wanted to find a current equivalent of Panalure, what would I look for? Is convertability to b&w an "advertised feature" of the film, or any film?

    Thanks for your help.

    Bruce
     
  5. B-3

    B-3 Member

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    Pitchertaker:

    You might be right. I thought about a digital step - personally I'm not opposed to this sort of thing (just another tool in the toolbox), but this fellow foams at the mouth when it comes to anything digital so I wondered if I was missing something. I should have asked him when I had the chance, but didn't think of it at the time. He didn't have any examples of his work with him, so I can't say how well they turned out.

    Bruce
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Panalure is not a film, it's a panchromatic B&W photographic paper with a gelatin silver emulsion, and it can be processed and toned in ordinary B&W chemicals. Because it is panchromatic, of course, it needs to be handled in total darkness. I believe it is still being manufactured, but only in RC. I don't think there are any other panchromatic B&W papers around.

    A B&W dupe from a color transparency can be as good as your technique and equipment. It's best to dupe to a larger format than the original if possible. It can be done with an enlarger or a camera on a copy stand with a light box.
     
  7. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    The simplest analog method of converting a color negative to a B&W print, as suggested above, is a panchro paper. Panalure has been out of production for some time, but I recently saw some at a local photo store (which is now out of business, and the Panalure long gone); Seagull used to sell a panchro paper as well, and it also is out of production; I don't know that there is such an animal still available.

    The second simplest is to contact print the color negative to panchromatic film and develop a reversal positive (which becomes a grayscale copy of the color negative, of course), or use a slide/film duplicator to do the same job (you could also make an enlarged copy negative for contact printing the same way, but this, IMO, more complicated than duplicating the negative at original film size). This avoids the contrast gain of a two-step copy by eliminating the interpositive, though it is dependent on a reliable B&W reversal process -- commercial processing at .dr5 is one possibility, but Kodak and Foma sell reversal kits that work well with any film (a couple test rolls or sheets are surely in order); cross-processing XP2+ in E-6 might work, also. With a bit of experimentation, it's even possible to do reversal with the addition of only a single chemical to those normally used for B&W: you need a bleach that won't rehalogenate the image silver (plus a clearing bath, usually sodium sulphite, needed to remove the bleach, so really two chemicals).
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Panalure is still listed as in stock in common sheet sizes and available by special order in long rolls at B&H, and it is not listed as discontinued at www.kodak.com.

    There is also a panchromatic Portra B&W paper that can be processed in RA-4 color chemistry.
     
  9. B-3

    B-3 Member

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    Excellent information!

    Donald and David,

    Thank you both for all of the great information. There is more for me to learn and try (= fun!).

    Bruce
     
  10. pitchertaker

    pitchertaker Member

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    Donald:

    It is beyond me why anyone would want to shoot color neg with the intent of printing to B&W....ON PURPOSE. I don't see the reasoning or benefits. We still have good B&W films. I admit to scanning color negs (shot some years ago) and printing them monochromatically via digital means. But I also maintain and use my wet darkroom -- even teach it a a university. And I have a lot of experience teach Zone Workshop (with Oliver Gagliani) in the 80's. So, someone please explain to me why you'd shoot color neg for B&W printing.

    Pitchertaker
     
  11. B-3

    B-3 Member

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    I don't know if he was starting with negs or positives, but I got the impression that he was producing the b&w prints in order to have these available (as an option) for sales at shows and open studio events.
     
  12. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Many still shoot color neg because it gives them the option of getting both if they want or require, it was quite common at the lab that I worked at to have customers request both B&W and color from the same neg.

    By the way, many of the new printing systems will do it through the computer included in the machine as well as print color positives and b&W positives from Color Slides, albeit not the same quality and tonality ranges, but it is a pretty easy process, with machines like the Noritusu 2900 RA-4 Paper processor.

    Dave
     
  13. DKT

    DKT Member

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    it's still around--only made in one grade (medium) now. used to be offered in three. I use it where I work once in a blue moon, but haven't ordered any in a long time. it's funky stuff to use, but is really the only way to go for printing color negs on b/w.
     
  14. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    I often shot and still do shoot a lot of color negative material simply because my customers invariably will call back and ask for a B&W print for news paper reproduction or for some other reason. If I am shooting for myself I normally use b&w film. I still prefer Kodak emulsions over all the others, but may in the near future be forced to make a change.

    I personally have miles of exposed 35mm Ektacolor and Kodacolor negatives that have never been proofed, so I am in the process of going back through these old exposures and selecting frames to print when my Dark Room materializes. I find ocassionaly in my files b&w prints, some on panalure that I have shared with the gallery.

    I did not find that Panalure had a short range of tones, if it was in the negative I generally could get it into the print. Panalure definitely could not be considered my favorite paper. But as long as it exists I will have it on the shelf.
     
  15. bennoj

    bennoj Member

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    In a lith printing class I took a couple of years ago, the teacher said that color negs could make good lith prints, so I decided to experiment. The attached photo is my favorite of the few color negs I experimented with. You may not want to work with lith to make b&w prints from color negs, but I thought I'd mention the possibility.
     

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  16. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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  17. carbromac

    carbromac Member

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    You shoot color neg because the client wants color, you can make good black and white prints if you use a 3 and half filter with VC paper. I shoot color neg because I want the best of both worlds and I get it.
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Personally, I don't usually like the look of color converted to B&W, because I like the spectral response of classic films like Tri-X. On the other hand, if you like the T-max look, you might like color neg on Panalure.
     
  19. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    I believe there is also a way to shoot color print film and develop it in a way as to remove the color dyes from it, leaving a silver negative.

    Anyone? Anyone?
     
  20. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    You can still get Panalure in the US. I have to import it specially into the UK. It is wonderful. You can even use filtration to darken skys etc at the printing stage, but you can't use a safelight with it, so you need to know your dark room well. As to why you should use it rather than B&W film, it's just a useful option to have.

    David.
     
  21. gma

    gma Member

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    As for making a B&W negative from a color slide, it is easy. I have made 4x5 negatives with 100 speed panchromatic film from 35mm Kodachrome slides in the enlarger. If I remember correctly the exposures with my enlarger were around 5 seconds at f/11 or 16. You will need to bracket to get the correct exposure. You need to have a black surface under the film so you do not introduce reflections through the film base.
     
  22. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Somewhat off topic, but which film to make a color internegative to print C prints?

    Paul