Printing Colour negs in B&W

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by MamiyaJen, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. MamiyaJen

    MamiyaJen Member

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    Has anyone ever taken some colour negs and then printed them into B&W in the darkroom? If so, what were the effects? Just curious btw...
     
  2. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    I haven't tried true color negs, but I've printed onto B&W paper from chromogenic B&W C-41 film -- Kodak BW400CN -- and it did extremely well, with no contrast adjustment necessary.
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Much of potential problem comes when you use variable contrast paper which 'recognizes' colors as contrast indicators. Also, the overall contrast tends to be less with color negatives than B&W ones; I have found color paper to be an actual grade 3. - David Lyga
     
  4. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    Up until 2004 when Kodak last made B&W paper, Kodak made Panalure panchromatic B&W enlarging paper. This was a B&W paper specifically designed for making prints from color negatives and made enlargements that had realistic tonal values in B&W.

    There are several problems in trying to print B&W from color negatives. The biggest problem is the orange color printing mask built into color negatives. Its color shares some of the color found in safelight filters. This significantly increases printing time and results in unpleasant tonal relations in B&W prints from color negatives on standard B&W enlarging papers.

    In the Kodak book, Creative Darkroom Techniques, the use of Panalure is illustrated with two B&W photos. One was done on a fixed grade paper that gave the best results possible on conventional paper. This would be more difficult with variable-contrast paper due to its variable contrast response to the color of the printing mask. Fixed grade paper has some hope of success.

    The print shown in the Kodak book on fixed grade paper had odd tonal relationships. The print from the same negative enlarged on Panalure paper looked like what we’d expect from a well executed B&W print. Unfortunately Panalure is no longer made.

    If you want to try this, you’ll get the best results from fixed grade paper.
     
  5. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Not just that, also think of the orange mask. B&W paper is sensitive to green and blue light but only barely to red light, and orange won't give you much blue light.

    The issue B&W prints from color negs has been discussed in many threads both here on APUG and elsewhere.
     
  6. Molli

    Molli Subscriber

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    I've done it a few times and not had any particular problems with it. Mind you, I take fairly rubbish photos, so winding up with mediocre prints isn't surprising :smile: I just dug up one of the negatives that I had two goes at on two different enlargers. On my old Meopta Axomat 1a the time was f/8 for 18 seconds when it would normally be around 8 seconds for a 5x7 print, and the second was on a Durst enlarger which I hadn't used until that point. The time was f/8 for 65 seconds!

    I've also developed quite a bit of colour film in black and white chemicals and printed some of those also.
     
  7. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Rudeofus (and his followers): Yeah, this orange mask must be done away with. Actually, if you process color neg film in regular B&W dev you will get a rather respectable image, albeit monochrome. NOTE: color neg requires much B&W development, probably 50% more than you would give for Tri-X. Perhaps this is due to the (?) reduced amount of halides because the couplers are there to render adequate density when color chems are used. With ONLY B&W developer being used, the developer has to 'work' harder to achieve adequate contrast. (If that assessment is incorrect please correct me.)

    What I (WE?) would be interested in knowing is whether this orange mask (which is NOT a coupler but always there even with B&W development) can be either eliminated (probably not) or at least neutralized to render an annoying but 'doable' medium grey. Outside of normal photo chemicals perhaps there is a solution that the processed film can be dunked into to provide a 'solution' to this dilemma. This would, then, allow normal printmaking (with C-41 film) in monochrome without any use of color chemicals. I know that this query is rather esoteric and even 'useless' for some to even ponder but I do respect darkroom brainstorming in that it can open new doors to heretofore 'unsolvable' problems.

    In some respects Nikola Tesla was 'as good' as Thomas Edison. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2012
  8. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I've done it MANY years ago. I believe I was using graded paper, not VC. Sorry, it was probably 30+ years ago when I did that....

    I think it looked ok except it had much more grain than ones with typical B&W films would.

    There is a page or two in a booklet Ilford (Simon Galley) sends out to us Ilford fans on this topic. It says to start with filtration grade 3 or 4 to counter-act the orange mask.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I was asked by a local library to make some B&W prints from their color negatives a couple of years ago. I used MG and grade 4 or so filtration and that worked out OK. It wasn't great art, but great art wasn't what they wanted anyway. They were happy with the result.

    A lot depends on the negs and what you're looking to achieve. In my case, the subject was their library, and it is a white painted frame building, so color rendition wasn't much of a factor.
     
  10. misok

    misok Member

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    i've done it just once and came up beautifully. indoor nude with natural light, slr with kodak gold 100 lab processed, printed on fomatone 132 with filter grade 3 (? ..surely not more). nice smooth tones, very fine grain.
     
  11. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    Panchromatic B&W paper is still being made by Harman. RC version is called Ilfospeed RC Digital and FB bears the name Harman Galerie FB Digital, both only in rolls. If someone knows how to get hold of the latter in Europe, please let me know!
     
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I'd love to see an example of a b&w print from a color negative; anyone got one handy?

    David, about the orange mask, as far as I know you can't easily get rid of it. It's present in the film just like the couplers, only it's destroyed image-wise during processing, leaving deposits of masking dye inversely proportional to negative density. Rollei digibase c-41 film doesn't have this mask however..

    Working on Ilfospeed RC digital would be fantastic, assuming its fixed grade character was suited to your negatives. Moreso if it works well with carbro... alas, it's hard to get a hold of in small quantities and so no one(?) has been able to do the necessary testing.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    holmburgers

    it looks like a orthochromatic image often times.
    the reds convert to blacks ( red brick wall, red lipstick appears black ),
    and other times you can't even tell the difference and think the negative was a b/w one.
    there are ways to achieve this look with panchro film .. i think it is an orangy-yellow filter
    or you could use a paper negative, and there won't be excessive development, or mask to deal with.
    i used to always print color negative film on black and white paper ... and often times i would project a chrome
    and make a paper negative ( internegative ) and then contact print that ..

    have fun !

    john
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    One idea would be just to make an enlarged interpositive on panchromatic b&w film and then off you go. You can play color filter games in that step, which could be interesting.

    Otherwise you may want to use an in-camera filter to shift the tones to something that will be appropriate for the contrast you want.

    Don't forget the mask. If I were trying this, I would go for the maskless rollei digibase.
     
  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Orthochromatic film is fantastic for subjects in shadow, portraits of course and landscapes with strong structural features. That might be a good criteria from which to choose C-41 negs..

    cheers!
     
  16. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I've made a few B&W prints from Portra - 160 (120) on to Ilford MG IV FB using an Aristo VCL4500 light source. They required a rather contrasty light setting and some burning especially the highlights but it worked well and had very good tonal range. I wouldn't make a habit of it but they were of grandchildren and those particular images went well with other B&W's I had of some of the others.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  17. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I think this might be the best approach. Either enlarge on to LF film to make an interpositive, then contact print that to make a negative, then contact print that on to paper. Isnt that how the process goes? I've never done it, but seems the best way to get the contrast control you would need/want.


    That's a possibility, too, but wouldnt the reds in the film cause problems with printing, or would it effectivly look like an orthochromatic film print?
     
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well, at least the (negative) colours wouldn't be coupled with the mask, so I guess you could more easily filter in whatever way pushes all the info into tones that can be properly rendered by your b&w film or paper.