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Thread: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or similar?

  1. #1

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    Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or similar?

    So I really like the look of Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii's three-color photos from the 1900's and 1910's, with their brilliant, life-like color response and shimmering rainbow artifacts around moving objects. My understanding is his camera was probably a falling plate model that automatically exposed three dry plates with different color filters in decently quick succession. "An elegant solution, for a more civilized age... not as clumsy or as random as slide film..."

    There were even three-color cameras that could compensate for the subtly different color sensitivities of early panchromatic emulsions by altering the shutter speed, though I don't know if Prokudin-Gorskii had one. Obviously, these cameras are pretty obscure now (though they were made into the 50's for some applications, apparently,) and my chance of ever getting one is less than zero.

    However, I think for static shots like landscapes, all you'd really need to mess around with this would be a decent pan film (check), a very stable tripod (check) and three different color filters of appropriate, known hues and about equal density (not check), as well as the photoshop or GIMP knowledge to composite the scans together (tentative check?). Has anyone tried this? Results? Any images they'd like to share?

    I will say I do have film holders with clearly distinguishable notches (courtesy of previous owners) so that it wouldn't be hard to tell the three different exposures apart. What do you call those notches anyways? Index notches?

    I'd also note that, if you were very smart, had the proper equipment and you were willing to mess around with doing different exposures, you could expose two regular sheets and an infrared sheet and simulate or approximate the false-color response of the old Aerochrome infrared color slide film, where infrared was reproduced as red, red became green, green became blue, and blue was blocked out altogether. That would be totally tubular, in my opinion. IDK, I think infrared sheet film is probably too rich for my blood.

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    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    sin eater

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    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...eparations-HOW

    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...ic-Photography

    One of my experiments with this:



    The biggest problem for me was equalizing exposure and contrast ranges on the different filters. I can't remember exactly what my results were. Testing is key.
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    Ah, Corran, I was hoping you had some relevant experience! That image has some excellent qualities to it. It definitely reminds me of a Prokudin-Gorskii image in that, even knowing the artifacts it would cause, neither of you shy away from photographing running water. Also, the color response in the forest is very similar to his best images. I do note a lot of violet artifacts: did lighting conditions change?

    All in all, very interesting and beautiful picture, thanks for sharing!

    Do you want to share any details of the production? Camera, film, exposure, development? I'd be especially interested in hearing what filters you were using.

    It's a shame J. Lane only makes Speed Plates in Ortho, or I would legitimately try this with plates.

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    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    Thanks! A bit of artifacts in the forest area was probably wind blowing the fronds around.

    I have used T-Max 100 mostly for experimenting with tri-color images. I wrote a bit about my experience here:
    http://valdostafilm.blogspot.com/201...otographs.html

    Basically I used RGB filters of # 25, 58, and 47. Technically I think a 29 filter for red is more commonly recommended, I just didn't/don't have one so went with what I had. I found filter factors of 2.5 stops, 2, stops, and 3 stops respectively worked for me (just reading my notes, which is mostly what my blog was for ).

    I can't remember what I developed the film with but it was probably either Rodinal or Acufine back then.

    My intention for doing the tri-color images was to use the motion of the water (or the leaves in it here) to make these rainbow effects. The conditions have to be just right to do it, with stuff in the water moving and the light illuminating it all properly. I've only ever got one other image like it, because I don't usually bring all those filters with me:



    Pardon the 120 film here but that's what I had that time.

    Take a look at those threads and you might find a lot more info from those that have done it. It's a fun experiment.

    PS: Just last year I found a copy of Photographs For The Tsar for $2 at a flea market. Score! I should start looking for these types of images again, once spring hits.
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    Another very nice image. Now you have me wanting to do it medium format as well.

    I also need to look for that book that you mention. I've seen a lot of people impressed that there are color photos of WWII, and it's funny because there are actually better color photographs (in my opinion) from before WWI! Sure there were great impracticalities about most of the early color systems, but boy did they get the job done with a feel that has seldom been replicated.

    If I do this and feel like I get any worthwhile result, I will certainly make or find a thread over in image sharing. Thanks especially for giving me specific color filters to look for!

    Also thanks to Tin Can for the link! Some interesting images in that one.

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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    Bryan those are amazing!

    Another good resource (understatement of the year, he is a walking encyclopedia)...for both tri-color and dye transfer - is James Browning in Lebanon, NH. I've known Jim forever (graduated from same HS during the last ice age). Google him.

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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    Bryan those are amazing!

    Another good resource (understatement of the year, he is a walking encyclopedia)...for both tri-color and dye transfer - is James Browning in Lebanon, NH. I've known Jim forever (graduated from same HS during the last ice age). Google him.
    Alright, I will. By coincidence I just ordered a film scanner from NH.

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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    I haven't got the restoration of my National Photocolor One-Shot started. But I already got replacement filters. I bought Lee TRI-RED (25), TRI_GREEN (58) and TRI_BLUE (47B) which are meant for color separation work.
    Expert in non-working solutions.

  10. #10
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    Re: Has anyone here done three-color photography on B/W with a Speed Graphic or simil

    RL, it's certainly easier to shoot these in MF. I recommend you standardize on filter order so you always know what image is what filter. I always just do R - G - B, though I considered doing it in filter factor order, from least to most.

    Thanks John. I have the idea of a series of these, but like I said the conditions have to be just right and you've gotta have the filters ready when you find it...
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
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