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  1. #1

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    Printing Colour negs in B&W

    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. #2
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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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. #3
    David Lyga's Avatar
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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

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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. #5
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Lyga View Post
    Much of potential problem comes when you use variable contrast paper which 'recognizes' colors as contrast indicators.
    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.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  6. #6
    Molli's Avatar
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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 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. #7
    David Lyga's Avatar
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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 David Lyga; 01-28-2012 at 08:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #8

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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.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  9. #9

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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. #10

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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.

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