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Thread: Color photography with black and white film

  1. #1

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    Color photography with black and white film

    So I was reading about Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, the father of color photography. He traveled all over Russia from 1909-1915 using a very early color photo process. He took three identical black and white photos, each with a red, green or blue filter. Then he would combine all three shots using red, green and blue light to produce a complete color photograph.

    Upon reading this I realized the same could be done with modern black and white film using three filters and Photoshop. Below is my first attempt. I took three shots on TMX film (35mm, sorry!) using 25A, 58 and 47B filters, then aligned and merged them in Photoshop.

    I figure this could come in handy. For one thing, it's a way to develop "color" film at home without using color chemicals or needing to send it to a lab. It might even be cheaper, although I haven't calculated it. It's also great if you're out in the field with only black and white film and you realize your shot would look better in color.

    So does anybody have any experience with this? Is this more trouble than it's worth? Am I crazy?

  2. #2

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    You did a nice job!

    If I had the filters I would be tempted to give it a try, just for fun if nothing more. Great if nothing is moving in the shot, although with the right subject one might get interesting effects with some movement.

  3. #3
    Eirik Berger's Avatar
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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    That was really cool!
    Are the 25A, 58 and 47B-filters the optimal combination?
    Best regards,
    Eirik Berger

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    What a GREAT idea! A flash of GENIUS!
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  5. #5
    Joanna Carter's Avatar
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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    The most prolific publisher, I know, of "trichromie" is Henri Gaud.

    http://trichromie.free.fr/trichromie/index.php?

    His blog is all in French, but with a little help from Google Translate, it's surprising how much you can get out of it; and the images are inspiring.

  6. #6

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    if you don't speak french the blog might be a little off-putting, so many articles, you don't know where to start.

    here is a good starting point, still in french though
    http://www.galerie-photo.com/test-trichromie.html

  7. #7

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    Quote Originally Posted by Incoherent Fool View Post
    So I was reading about Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, the father of color photography. He traveled all over Russia from 1909-1915 using a very early color photo process. He took three identical black and white photos, each with a red, green or blue filter. Then he would combine all three shots using red, green and blue light to produce a complete color photograph.
    this post amazed me since I also admired Sergei's work. He did work for the Tsar. I think the first picture was a river view. I was shooting with a Mamiya 7II todat and thought how easy it would be for me to use B&W film for shooting architecture. Snaoshots with the Mamiya then careful shots with my 8x10 and scan and combine. This would allow the most area of data collection and the greatest devotion to color range as each color can be exposed separately and then color balanced in photoshop afterwards.

    Asher

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    Quote Originally Posted by Incoherent Fool View Post
    So I was reading about Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, the father of color photography. He traveled all over Russia from 1909-1915 using a very early color photo process. He took three identical black and white photos, each with a red, green or blue filter. Then he would combine all three shots using red, green and blue light to produce a complete color photograph.
    This post amazed me since I also admired Sergei's work and was thinking of it today and planning to use film. He did work for the Tsar, BTW. I think the first picture was a river view. I was shooting with a Mamiya 7II todat and thought how easy it would be for me to use B&W film for shooting architecture. Careful shots and combine. Fewer shots are needed in architecture and, as mentioned, B&W is more easily processed.

    Asher

  9. #9

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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    The Technicolor process involved something quite similar - except that the Technicolor camera took all 3 exposures at the same time, by the use of semi-transparent mirrors. As a result, it was possible to control colors quite nicely, and Technicolor used very rich colors when producing their final blend.

    Technicolor required a special camera, special operator, and special consultants. It was a bit like having an old IBM mainframe computer at your company with its required staff of engineers in blue suits: there was a certain "overhead" to doing business.

    Kodak came along and invented a film that had 3 dyes embedded in it, which required no special camera and operators, consultants, etc. This allowed average people to shoot color movies, and lowered the cost to studios. The color was "just as good" - not. Soon, Technicolor was used only for high-end movies, and by the 1970's, it basically disappeared. As I recall, one of the Godfather movies was the last one ever made in Technicolor. (I may be wrong)

    Because Technicolor was shot in b&w film, it is much more archival than modern color film, which fades over time. We can restore Technicolor films fairly easily. It's a "digital" process, after all.

  10. #10
    Eirik Berger's Avatar
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    Re: Color photography with black and white film

    The detail comparison between Provia 100F and Tri-X (tricrom.) was kind of disturbing

    I guess I will have to prepare myself for a increase in BW film consumption. I often use red filter anyway so I can spare two extra sheets now and then to try this out. Film is cheap and life is short.


    Quote Originally Posted by eric t View Post
    here is a good starting point, still in french though
    http://www.galerie-photo.com/test-trichromie.html
    Best regards,
    Eirik Berger

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