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Thread: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    I need some advice.

    Its taken me a couple of years to reach this point, of having a decent negative printed and hung on the wall. I've been using hp5 in ilfosol3, and printing on ilfords rc mg, and mg fiber paper with the same color results, mainly due to local availability.

    Here is my issue. I don't like it. Its just too black white and grey. I'm all analog, and would like to stay that way for a while. I suspect the solution is some sort of toner. But I really have no idea as to which way to move.

    Ken Lee has a flower gallery that I think is just great. http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/flowers/index.html
    Specifically one shot of a plant or some type of grass with drops of water has a "color" that I cant explain, but I like it a lot. http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/flowers/8.html

    I have read on Kens site, where he converts a film scan to monochrome via software, but I prefer to stay all analog.

    I sure would appreciate any opinions, or suggestions.

    Thanks for your time.
    Tim
    Go buy some film, and release the magic.

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    S. Bay Area, CA
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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Could you post some scans of your prints? Perhaps it is an issue with your printing?? I'm having issues visualizing what you're talking about.

  3. #3
    3d Visual Effects artist
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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    you probably want to look into is "toning" your prints. I remember some good discussions on this with references to some good books to check out. Search and you will probably find them.
    Daniel Buck - 3d VFX artist
    3d work: DanielBuck.net
    photography: 404Photography.net - BuckshotsBlog.com

  4. #4
    Scott Brewer
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Are you saying they have too much contrast? It could be your metering and development. The tough thing is it may be your negative, printing or both!

    Definitely get some prints up for us to see.

    A suggestion: my favorite book on the subject is Ansel Adam's The Negative. I think it is an easy read and may help you with getting the results you are after. I am sure others here may have some other suggestions as well.

  5. #5

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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    I know just what you mean. I see many many images that are too harsh. i.e. contrast is too hard. I would suggest you try some PMK developer or Pyrocat HD and go easy on the development time. You should get much smoother tonal transitions with those developers as they will hold back local contrast throughout the range as well as keeping main highlights under control.

  6. #6

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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim k View Post
    I need some advice.

    Its taken me a couple of years to reach this point, of having a decent negative printed and hung on the wall. I've been using hp5 in ilfosol3, and printing on ilfords rc mg, and mg fiber paper with the same color results, mainly due to local availability.
    Which Ilford papers are you using? the normal or warmtone?

    Which paper developer are you using? Have you tried other paper developers?

    -Darren

  7. #7
    Greg Greg Blank's Avatar
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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Ken's work is very nice. It takes a while (a life time) to achieve a specific style that connotes the "you". If one just gives another the answers, still the answer is usually missed. If you actually care about finding your own style and doing it using any method you will be less concerned about what and how others achieve the style they have. (That's my best advice take or not.)

    That said; the choice of your developer and film have some bearing on what your imagery looks like, as well as paper printing and contrasts you are matching film to paper and contrast filters.

    I would say you could get Kens look in many analog ways. You could use a warm tone paper. You could use Azo paper. You could make Platinum and or Pladium prints.....so many choices.




    Quote Originally Posted by Tim k View Post
    I need some advice.

    Its taken me a couple of years to reach this point, of having a decent negative printed and hung on the wall. I've been using hp5 in ilfosol3, and printing on ilfords rc mg, and mg fiber paper with the same color results, mainly due to local availability.

    Here is my issue. I don't like it. Its just too black white and grey. I'm all analog, and would like to stay that way for a while. I suspect the solution is some sort of toner. But I really have no idea as to which way to move.

    Ken Lee has a flower gallery that I think is just great. http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/flowers/index.html
    Specifically one shot of a plant or some type of grass with drops of water has a "color" that I cant explain, but I like it a lot. http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/flowers/8.html

    I have read on Kens site, where he converts a film scan to monochrome via software, but I prefer to stay all analog.

    I sure would appreciate any opinions, or suggestions.

    Thanks for your time.
    Tim

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    204

    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    I find the Ilford Warmtone fiber to be much better than the plain multigrade. I think that if you try Ilford Warmtone in a developer like TST then you might start to get what you are looking for in a print.

  9. #9

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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Thanks guys, I did try to upload a couple of pictures, long story short I failed. So I uploaded a couple of scans on a cheap office multifunction machine and tried to get them as real as possible in lightroom. So I don't know how meaningful they will be but the color is pretty close to what they are. Here is a link to my smug mug site http://tim-k.smugmug.com/gallery/101...96022727_VbEGv ok never mind I think I got it figured out.

    I am using plain paper, not warm tone. The only paper developer I've ever used is PQ Universal from Ilford.

    I understand the "lifetime to find my thing" because its taken me a couple of years to get a print. And I certainly do not want to copy someone else's style, but rather I'm looking for a nudge in the right direction.

    I don't think its a contrast thing, however the shot with the headlight was rather tough, lots of chrome in the harsh sun. In hindsight, I think it could have spent a bit more time on the enlarger, and a little less contrast. But its the color that I'm having an issue with.

    The consensus seems to be towards a warm tone paper, and I'm all over that idea. And while I have found fiber a little more difficult to work with, I'm ok with the fiber, if it will tone better. If after looking at my scans, you guys think toning is the way to go, any suggestions as to which product. I've been reading and looking over Freestyles website, and honestly I'm a little befuddled.

    I hate to open the developer choice issue, but I'm open to that as well, if it gets me going in the right direction.

    Thanks again
    Tim
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails car show (1 of 2).jpg   car show (2 of 2).jpg  
    Go buy some film, and release the magic.

  10. #10

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    Re: Help, my b&w is TOO black and white

    Ok, this is going to sound stupid, but here goes. I just opened the thumbnails, and they look better on my monitor than the prints in my hand. I dont know how to explain it, but I framed a couple of them with white mats with black frames, and they just look grey, hanging there on the wall.
    Go buy some film, and release the magic.

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