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  1. #1

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    How can I boost the contrast in colour processing?

    I recently took a shot with some neg film where the subject needs a contrast boost. Its a picture of some graffiti which if scanned and the black blackened on the PC, it looks fantastic. But I dont want to do it on the PC, so what can I do? Just after some ideas in general in both the time of shooting, the type of film, and the printing process. At the mo the only way I can boost this is to use a film such as Kodak Provia 400VC and print it on Ilfocolor, which wont be enough. Any ideas, such as pushing, pulling, snatching? Seems to me to be one of the shortfalls of colour is controling contrast.

  2. #2
    L Gebhardt's Avatar
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    You can control contrast in color the same as you can in black and white, though I don't know if to the same extent. Simply develop the film for longer, and maybe shoot it at a slightly faster speed (I wouldn't go above box speed for a 20% time increase).

    Also, you can make a contrast increasing mask, which I haven't tried. Ctein describes the process in "Post Exposure".

  3. #3

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    Dear LAMitchell,

    In addition to the above: You don't say if you've tried printing on Kodak Ultra Endura paper. Consider using slide film and Ilfochrome. You can choose a high saturation film such as Velvia or E100VS.

    Neal Wydra

  4. #4

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    I recall hearing about a procedure to increase contrast and/or color saturation when making color prints, but unfortunately I can't find a reference to it. The procedure involved, from memory, dunking a (partially?) processed print in some extra chemistry and then repeating the development. Sorry I can't be of more help. I'm just posting this so you can try looking for more information. Maybe a Web search on keywords like "increasing color contrast film" would turn up more information.

  5. #5

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    The extended dev might do the trick on the film side, I dont think its as resopnsive as &W though. I have some Kodak Ultra which I will give a try. Ilfachrome is a route but smelly and expensive. I'll Google around too.

  6. #6

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    There are several ways to boost contrast as well as saturation in printing color negatives. I should state that I have NOT tried all of these personally I will start at the beginning:
    1) Film Choice A). Use a film that is designed for high saturation
    B) Use a transparency film and develop in C41. This will require some testing for film speed and for the ability of the film to provide good color with cross processing.

    2). Lighting A) Taking photos just after..or during rain.. will have the dust out of the air and can give quite a boost to saturation
    B) Choose high contrast lighting situations which will increase contrast more than saturation.
    3) Use a polariser on the camera lens. If your are working with close ups you can also alter the light by having the light shine thru a polarising foil..either artificial or natural.
    4) Push your film by increasing your development time to 5 minutes
    5) Use the Anderson method of bleaching and redeveloping your negative. Each cycle will increase contrast and to an extent saturation.
    6) Choose a more contrasty or saturated paper such as Endura Ultra
    7). Give your print paper additional develoment to extend the contrast
    8) Masking a). Contrast reduction:
    Having done a combination of the obove you now may have reached a point where your negative will not fit the paper and you need to make a contrast reducing mask. If you use a white light after allowing for the orange mask color of the c41 film then all of the colors will receive contrast reduction. If you mask is deliberatly made so that that reds are emphasized then the reds can be made EXTREMELY saturated but the other colors will be subdued in saturation.
    b) Contrast increasing mask To make a contrast increasing mask one either has to create a diapositive and then make a mask from the diapositive or you need a film that will produce a negative mask directly from a color negative. If you use white light after compensating for the orange mask of the film then all colors will be equally increased in contrast. If you wish to saturate a particular color such as red then the reds can be made EXtremely sarurated with other colors being subdued in color.


    The steps listed above just begins to scratch the surface of what may be done. Actually, In terms of contrast and saturation Color does not need to take a back seat to B&W. It will, however be more challenging.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  7. #7

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    If you develop your own color paper, you can try using ordinary b&w fix instead of blix. This results in an increase in contrast but a reduction in saturation.

    This can also reputedly be done at the film development stage for a similar effect.

    I'm sure Photo Engineer will be along to explain the peroxide method of saturation boosting.

  8. #8
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    Kodak offers three contrast grades of color paper: Portra, Supra, and Ultra.
    Think #2, #3, #4.

    That's the easy way to begin to print the negative you have.

    To make an image from scratch, every manufacturer offers films of different contrast. Look at their sites.

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  9. #9

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    I have found the main problem I have been having has been the RA4 chemicals I were using. They are not very good and this has been confirmed by a friend who has tried them as well. Since then I have switched to AGFA, which I got a large batch of and the colours and contrast are much better. I have also gone back to the same spot and shot the same subject overexposing the film by a stop. Now I am getting results.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire Senft
    There are several ways to boost contrast as well as saturation in printing color negatives. I should state that I have NOT tried all of these personally I will start at the beginning:
    1) Film Choice A). Use a film that is designed for high saturation
    B) Use a transparency film and develop in C41. This will require some testing for film speed and for the ability of the film to provide good color with cross processing.

    2). Lighting A) Taking photos just after..or during rain.. will have the dust out of the air and can give quite a boost to saturation
    B) Choose high contrast lighting situations which will increase contrast more than saturation.
    3) Use a polariser on the camera lens. If your are working with close ups you can also alter the light by having the light shine thru a polarising foil..either artificial or natural.
    4) Push your film by increasing your development time to 5 minutes
    5) Use the Anderson method of bleaching and redeveloping your negative. Each cycle will increase contrast and to an extent saturation.
    6) Choose a more contrasty or saturated paper such as Endura Ultra
    7). Give your print paper additional develoment to extend the contrast
    8) Masking a). Contrast reduction:
    Having done a combination of the obove you now may have reached a point where your negative will not fit the paper and you need to make a contrast reducing mask. If you use a white light after allowing for the orange mask color of the c41 film then all of the colors will receive contrast reduction. If you mask is deliberatly made so that that reds are emphasized then the reds can be made EXTREMELY saturated but the other colors will be subdued in saturation.
    b) Contrast increasing mask To make a contrast increasing mask one either has to create a diapositive and then make a mask from the diapositive or you need a film that will produce a negative mask directly from a color negative. If you use white light after compensating for the orange mask of the film then all colors will be equally increased in contrast. If you wish to saturate a particular color such as red then the reds can be made EXtremely sarurated with other colors being subdued in color.


    The steps listed above just begins to scratch the surface of what may be done. Actually, In terms of contrast and saturation Color does not need to take a back seat to B&W. It will, however be more challenging.
    One can also use black and white film to contrast mask color materials if a neutral bias is desired.

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