Frustration and wanting to know more about black and white!

manda

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i need to vent and ask some advice.. :irked:

im getting frustrated because i really want to know how to take good black and white and sepia shots ..i really want to start taking a lot more portraits but i dont know which film to use and im thinking that all the types of shots im looking at, must be processed in a dark room. i know they are for sepia anyway.

the shots i was looking at are right click protected so i cant show them here but im sure you know the sort im talking about. not studio photography either...

E002081.jpg


this was one of my latest attempts with kodak t max film..not exactly what im looking for, plus she was pulling a weird face lol
in fact, i really dislike it, especially as she's generally very photogenic, therefore it was me!

kellycronula-thumb.jpg
 

metroshane

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T max is a decent black and white...but to me, it's sort of all purpose. I hear Fuji makes a 50 ISO that is real good.

Second, where are you getting your pics developed? Don't take them to one of those hour places. They usually print on color paper (even b/w film) and haven't a clue how to color correct. Take your film to a professional lab and they usually color adjust and print on b/w paper.

Now let's critique the bottom photo. Looks like it wasn't metered right. The background is so blown out, I bet your meter was trying to come to a common ground between the subject and the white background....so get average everywhere, perfect nowhere.
 

metroshane

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one hours are ok for snap shots. If photography was my profession I wouldn't trust them.
 
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manda

manda

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none of the hour photo places here will do black and white. i always have them sent to a lab.
 

enigma

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kodak makes a c-41 B&W film..... meaning it can be processed in a one hour photolab. But, I would never send anything to a walmart, osco type place, who knows when the last time theey changed the chems... and look at the 16 year old kid at the counter (no bad to 16 year olds)

For B&W films, I use Tri-x, seems to get great contrast. As far as tone on your prints, you can get cool, or warm tone paper (one more bluish, other more brown)
 

oriecat

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I've never been fond of Tmax, can't really say why. I think it's old resentment from when Tmax first came out and they tried to replace Tri-X and you couldn't hardly get it anywhere because they wanted to sell you Tmax instead. Of course I could be remembering that all wrong...

Manda, have you tried any other films? Can you have your prints printed on a warm tone paper? I think you would like that. If you want sepia, you would need to have them tone it, or you could probably even do that yourself at home, if you bought the chemicals and some trays. You don't need a darkroom to tone.
 
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manda

manda

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yes well this is what i need to do..try out some new films
i will ask a lab if they will tone for me..i imagine it costs a bit more however?
 

oriecat

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Yes, I imagine it would be quite a bit more. Probably something to save for special enlargements or something. However, if they are machine printing them, they could have paper options that might do something for you. Ask them about that next time you are there, just to see.
 

Bob_McBob

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I just want to point out that if you're really interested in black and white film, you should probably develop your own film. If you're doing more than a few rolls, the savings will probably pay for your equipment. Plus, you get complete control over the process - most labs use dip and dunk machines with the same chemicals for all films, which is not ideal, considering the huge range of films available! I would not process Delta 3200 with Ilfosol S, for instance... there are a lot of film/developer combinations that work well, but who knows what the hell they're using at a lab. Also, you can experiment with push and pull processing, and whatever else interests you. The equipment will probably cost under $75, and you don't even need a darkroom.
 

enigma

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bobs right, the labs that are good and change chemicals for films... they are not cheap. film processing at home may be a good idea. If doing it your self is not an option, find out where local pro photograghers take there film, its not going to be a hour hour place, but they will do a much better job.

good luck
 

KBOC

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It's not all that hard to develop your own film

Why not just get a drum some chemicals and do it yourself?

If all you're doing is the film, you can get away pretty cheep.

And after reading that others are saying the same thing, let me add that you can pick up plus-X cheap, and it's good film.

Not sure about now, but it was the most popular black and white film "back in the day..."

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10x Loupe (magnifier for negatives
and slides)
 

ksmattfish

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I use TMax 100, HP5(400), and Kodak's C41 BW 400.

C41 BW: You know those annoying commercials where Kodak is pushing Gold 800 as some sort of magic all purpose film? (I hate Gold 800) Well, the C41 BW 400 actually is magic. You can shoot this stuff at ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 with no change to standard C41 dev. The more it's overexposed the finer the grain, although image sharpness may deteriorate some below ISO 100. This stuff is almost foolproof. Can be processed anywhere. I've used Kodak, Ilford, and Konica, and they all rock.

TMax 100: Great for grainless images. Contrast doesn't get out of wack if exposure is off (like with TMax 400). I've had good luck pushing it. Has to be processed at a lab or by self.

HP5: I just love the look of the sharp, even grain. Processed at lab or by self.

I would say that the biggest difference between the two images you posted are contrast and tonality; the Getty image has less contrast and more tonality. This is ideally controlled in the camera; a good neg is easy to print/scan. But it can also be controlled in the computer/printer or the darkroom printing process.

If you are going to use any lab from Walmart to the pro places you must accept there is no way they are going to put as much effort into your prints as you would. But some will definately do a better job than others.

Sepia toning gelatin silver prints is cheap and easy. A kit is about $3.50, and you'll need two trays, and some rubber gloves. You can do it on your backporch (it's a little stinky). Make sure that any lab prints you are buying are being printed on paper that is tonable.

Or see if the lab will print your BW negs on color paper with a brown tint.

Find Henry Horenstien's book "Black and White Photography"; read it.
 

motcon

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well.......some stuff:

- of the chromogenic c41 b&w films, i very much prefer ilford xp2. you will not be able to get decent prints from a c41 lab w/xp2, though (the prints will come out w/an orangish/sepia tint). the kodak version, tcn, will print fine in a c41 lab. i have trusted one hour labs with my xp1 and xp2 for nearly a decade without incident.

- contrast isn't wholly controlled in camera. you can, at the end of the day, only control one portion of the exposure on the zone scale; you can't control both shadows and highlights in camera. the things you should control in camera (during exposure) are your shadow values. your highlight values are controlled in film development. old adage....'expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights'. this does mean, however; you should develop your own. it's fun and easy.

zone103.JPG


- i, like orie, dislike kodak films. with all films, there are very few exceptions to this rule: the printed speed of films was thought up by a bunch of chardonnay red faced folks. in your photo, if you downrated a bit, your blacks would have been snappier and would have indeed achieved maximum density. as it is, the blacks appear a bit off. i shoot:

fp4 125 at ei 80
hp5 400 at ei 320
panf 50 at 50 and ei 38

- b&w labs do the best they can do in most cases. this means that they adhere to a single set of time/temp/developer/dilution for a particular film. they will process tmax 400 the same for everyone at iso 400. this is where you lose the most control. giving up the ability to develop your own negs will usually result in negs that are printable, but not desirable. unless you have total control of the lighting situation, the subject, and your film, labs are just another processing establishment. developing at home is cheeeeeaaap (i spend 13 cents per roll to develop). i made up the cost of the equipment in one week. i use two developers and it seems as though i've been staring at the same bottles for years; the chems last a long time (this, of course, varies by type).

- k, let's have a look at your photo:

manda.jpg




1- eh, crud...had no intention of starting here (i numbered haphazardly). anyway....it appears to be either lens flare or light fall off in printing. if it is the former, use a hood. i keep a hood on my lens full time. if it is light fall off in printing, make the lab techs gargle fixer.

2- this area is the ideal exposure for skin (approx zone 5). i'll come back to this.

3- highlights are mingling a bit too much here. again, i'll come back to this.

4- how do you deal with the blowing out of skies with pan film? use an orange or red filter. i recommend an orange with portraiture as red can do funny things with the face. using an orange filter will give some gray and texture to the sky.

5- the lighting direction here is a bit less than ideal; it's quite uneven and not diffused. this caused an uneven exposure across the face and shadows in the eyes. five solutions: use a fill flash, have her hold a simple ol' piece of white foam core to reflect light back on to her face to fill the shadows, move the model if there is another suitable location, shoot early or late in the day, or move the sun.

ok, back to 2 and 3. if you were to spot meter 2 and settled on the reading (which is zone 5), then spot metered the right side of her face and noted that it was zone 10, what happens? the left side is exposed correctly and the right side is in highlight heaven. if you must take this shot, then in the development process you can correct the zone 10 (3 in the photo) exposure by reducing development. a reduction in development will darken highlights and an extension will brighten them. a chromogenic film would've handled this situation much better, but it still would've been difficult to capture correctly in exposure and you don't have the ability to contract/expand development with chromos.

this isn't the best shot (she's squinting), but this was shot at high noon in the summer in philly:
lkh1.jpg



please to post more questions as they arise; you have a good eye and ambition.

* i do take full responsibilty for any and all butchery of english and incoherency in this post, but do blame extensive travel and beer.
 

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