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Thread: Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

  1. #1
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    I guess this is a beginner's question. I've been shooting black and white exclusively for my serious work since i started photography. but it seems something in my head has snapped and now for some reason i'm seeing things in color. the thing is, i don't know what to do. my first thought was shoot negative film, scan it, and try to reverse and print the film digitally. that idea lasted about a minute (i use photoshop professionally at work, but could not for the life of me color correct the reversed negs). so now i'm thinking about trying chromes. not sure how it will work, since i'm often dealing with a contrast range that seems like it would be tough for chromes to handle (based on what people tell me). although it seems plenty of landscape guys shoot chromes, and i see bright sun and shadows in their work. any thoughts? any ideas on what film to try first? i'm used to working with tmax 100 shot at 50. i'd like the colors to be warm and rich, but not ridiculously saturated like in advertising colors. skin tones aren't an issue for me. i really am not rich enough to do this if it means shooting polaroid or bracketing every shot a half dozen times, like the commercial guys do. thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    Scanning color negs. is very simple. We do it extensively in my architectural photography business on an Epson 4870 and 3200. The trick is to make sure that the selection area for the scan is just within the boundaries of the image and the right ICC profile is used otherwise the scanner gets confused.

    The advantage to scanning negs is the lower contrast and superior shadow detail. Saturation can be bumped up later to give it that look of the highly saturated trans, films.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

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  3. #3

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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    I'm not sure what you're asking. Last year I had the same feeling that I wanted to try colour. I've gone from basically zero knowledge of colour workflow to the point I can process and print colour. But I haven't ventured into trying it with sheet film yet. The stuff isn't exactly cheap so I've been getting the whole process down with 35mm and 120. I'd suggest going that route. Wasting a $3+ sheet of colour film plus commerical processing easily adds up. Best to make your mistake with one of the small formats.

  4. #4
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    Kirk, can you elaborate more on icc profiles, or point me in the direction of a good source of info? thanks again, P

  5. #5
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    I agree with Kirk that scanning color negs has numerous advantages, not the least of which is hiding exposure errors to a degree. It helps to remember that whether using negative color or chromes, one is compressing the scene values into what the film can render, and then doing that again in the scanning process. Then, there are the technical issues of digital color management - another learning curve similar to learning filtration in color printing. ICC profiles, along with good monitor calibration, are important elements in the color management process. Most of the better Photoshop books delve into this process.

    From an artistic perspective, Paul, you might also think about finding a color film that has the color rendition you personally find most pleasing. Each emulsion has a slightly different "palette", and finding your favorite is an important step in creating images that say what you want them to say. Color film testing is probably better done in a smaller format due to the expense, however. For example, I like Fuji Provia 100F for chromes, and Fuji NPS160 for negs, but your color tastes might be completely different.

  6. #6

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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    Drink a couple of beers and this madness will pass.
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  7. #7
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    ha! i wish that's all it would take.

  8. #8
    Resident Heretic
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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    Paulr, you are not alone.

    This spring the color bug bit me as well. I'd been doing B&W for a very long time having abandoned color completely in the 1970s. B&W is still my mainstay, but now I do a bit of color every once in a while if I feel like it. I'm running about 2% color now ;-)

    Since I don't do much color, I didn't want to tie up a film holder with color. So I choose my film by what was available in readyload/quickload and was a negative film (I love sunlight, what can I say). I ended up with Kodak 160PortraVC.

    It scans really well, and it's really sharp. It's a bit oversaturated for what I'm doing (which is taking photographs of flowers that are already overstaturated), but Photoshop makes it easy to back off the saturation as required. Using ICC profiles for your printer is a must - Photoshop uses the ICC profile to show you when/where your image is out-of-gamut, which makes nice prints almost easy. Almost ;-)

    I find that Portra has about the same range as Tri-X. That means that I can treat them both the same in the field - standard zone system exposure. I rate Portra at EI 160, though others say they get better results at 125 or 100. Anyway, Portra at 160 and exposed via the zone system works perfectly for me. I typically make exactly one exposure unless there is movement (wind, clouds, etc.).

    Anyway, that's what I did when bitten by your color bug. Of course, YMMV.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9

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    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    I know that everyone here thinks I'm a color whore, but here goes. Velvia-50 at E.I. 40, B+W polarizer. It will either hook you, or break the flirtation.

  10. #10

    Black and White guy wants to shoot Color

    I like NPS very much for my work. I rate it at 100 and when in any doubt on longer exposures I give the second sheet an extra stop of exposure. Its really hard to mess up. My second choice is 160VC, a bit contrastier and a different color pallette. I think NPS is good for about another stop in scene range over VC .

    A good flat bed scanner will do a FINE job for prints in the 8X10 to 11X14 range. I use an Eposn 1680 but the 2540, 3200 and the 4870 (I think those are the right model numbers) work fine too. None of these scanners is especially sharp, but the size of the negative and the smallish reproduction size covers a lot of sins and good post scan processing takes care of the rest. The best part is that they are cheap and do a good job scanning big negative film.

    Since you use Photoshop professionally, you probably have a pretty good clue about color spaces and profiles. And I assume you have a calibrated system to work on. For what its worth I use Adobe 98 and tag the files that way. After that its making sure you have the proper profile for your printer.

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