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  1. #1

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    B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Hi.

    I've been search for a better process and workflow for B&W film images and I'm not quite finding what I'm looking for. Maybe you can help.

    Here's what I'm doing....I'm shooting 4x5 on Ilford FP4 as well as 35mm FP4 with a Nikon F100. It seems like I need an orange (#15) filter for just about everything. I live in Arizona and there's a LOT of UV light out here!!!

    After I develop the film, I use my Nikon D7200 to scan the negatives. Once I have a digital file, I move them into Affinity Photo for processing.

    I'm really not getting the results I'm hoping for. So, maybe you can offer your processing tips and workflow. I'll give it a try.

    I'm also thinking I need to bite the bullet and move back into Lightroom and Photoshot, but Affinity Photo has the controls, but I'm either using them wrong of the software just can't do it as well as I'd expect. I'd like to chock it up to user error, but the controls and "ability" to manipulate a black and white image" are somewhat limited. I'm thinking that its just how I do things and not so much my software.

    So, very curious to...
    • How you DSLR scan
    • How you process the images in editing software


    Thoughts??

    Thx!

  2. #2
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Here is what I do.
    Most of the time, I do not use a filter. I shoot Tmax100,D100, Trix (txp)320. I also live in Arizona and have not had an issue with UV light, but typically films are more sensitive to uv, like the old glass plates. If you're worried about it, put a UV filter on the front of the lens, but most lenses are multi-coated and should filter out most UV light. I could be wrong though.

    I meter for darks and expose for darks, develop for highlights (yes, the typical mantra)

    From there I develop as though I was going to print in a darkroom. I don't adjust for scanning

    Then I scan as a linear raw tiff on my V850 using view scan. I do no conversions with scanner

    Bring into PS use colorneg to do the conversion, then from there, I use photoshop to develop the image. When happy with it, I then may take it thru SilverEfx to fine tune it.

    I don't do Dslr scanning, will be moving to drum scanning this year sometime.

  3. #3

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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    My process is pretty much the same as Steven's, though I use a very old Epson scanner with Silverfast Ai 8.8. I wet mount my film and scan to a linear raw file for conversion with the ColorPerfect plugin. All post-processing is completed in PS.

  4. #4
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Yeah, I forgot to mention I wet mount using anr glass and betterscanning adjustable holder. I set focus and haven't looked back. I am gonna get a 4x5 target nade of glass and contact print it onto a negative and redo focus. Use it to figure out how to shim if needed for 8x10. I most likely will use V850 to decide if I should drum scan a negative.

  5. #5

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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Adam, what exactly are the results you're hoping for and what you're getting that doesn't match them?

    When digitizing B&W negatives I consider getting the linear source image of utmost importance before any subsequent manipulation. It is relatively easy to get that using a scanner, but comparably difficult with DSLR. A DSLR produces a linear raw file but pretty much any software working with raws automatically applies a profile, and with it a tonal response curve. It makes the picture look pretty but messes up all the shadows and highlights tonality. Although it is possible to interpret a DSLR raw linearly, it is not as straightforward. In the end it is about gamma control which is not difficult using profiles in Photoshop.

  6. #6
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Quote Originally Posted by nicnilov View Post
    Adam, what exactly are the results you're hoping for and what you're getting that doesn't match them?

    When digitizing B&W negatives I consider getting the linear source image of utmost importance before any subsequent manipulation. It is relatively easy to get that using a scanner, but comparably difficult with DSLR. A DSLR produces a linear raw file but pretty much any software working with raws automatically applies a profile, and with it a tonal response curve. It makes the picture look pretty but messes up all the shadows and highlights tonality. Although it is possible to interpret a DSLR raw linearly, it is not as straightforward. In the end it is about gamma control which is not difficult using profiles in Photoshop.
    I believe you can get the linear file output using the manufacturers conversion software. Ie, do not use ACR or similar when importing the raw file. Another program I have will read the raw file with no manipulation or non-linearizing the file and then you can save it as a tiff file in that form. But this program is for astronomy.

  7. #7
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Adam asked this same question in another thread. I asked for some examples, but he didn't produce any. In any case, nicilov is right, if you are camera scanning negatives, then you want to change the profile used in the raw processor to 'camera neutral' or similar in Adobe or 'no profile' in Capture 1. Set black and white points, making sure not to clip image information, and adjust a bit to taste, always erring on the side of leaving more information rather than less. Final tweaks are in Photoshop, as it has much better masking and manipulation functions than a raw processor. Once in Photoshop, spot the file. I then use channel mixer to pick the best channel, which is usually the green channel. I keep the file in sRGB, as that's what I'm going to use on the web. Use curve adjustment layers for dodging and burning using layer masks. I usually add a vignette. I tone the image. I like a slight magenta tone to everything but the highlights. I end by tweaking overall tonality with a curve. Save master file. Resize and sharpen for web, changing to 8-bit color at the end.

    Last edited by Peter De Smidt; 10-Mar-2020 at 18:07.
    May tomorrow be a better day.

  8. #8
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Adam asked this same question in another thread. I asked for some examples, but he didn't produce any. In any case, nicilov is right, if you are camera scanning negatives, then you want to change the profile used in the raw processor to 'camera neutral' or similar in Adobe or 'no profile' in Capture 1. Set black and white points, making sure not to clip image information, and adjust a bit to taste, always erring on the side of leaving more information rather than less. Final tweaks are in Photoshop, as it has much better masking and manipulation functions than a raw processor. Once in Photoshop, spot the file. I then use channel mixer to pick the best channel, which is usually the green channel. I keep the file in sRGB, as that's what I'm going to use on the web. Use curve adjustment layers for dodging and burning using layer masks. I usually add a vignette. I tone the image. I like a slight magenta tone to everything but the highlights. I end by tweaking overall tonality with a curve. Save master file. Resize and sharpen for web, changing to 8-bit color at the end.

    Great image.

    How do you spot a file in photoshop? Are you just using the eye dropper curser to see what values you have in the image?

  9. #9

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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    I've never used a DSLR for scanning film, but would NegativeLabPro help here? I use it for the little bit of color work that I do, but, then again, I'm using scanners.

  10. #10

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    Re: B&W digital workflow....what's yours?

    I've used NegativeLabPro quite a bit with B&W negatives (both scanned and DSLR) but my current take is that it doesn't really bring many benefits there.

    Automatic processing of a VueScan raw dng in NLP sometimes does give pleasant results but not in a predictable way. That is, even with all settings off and Linear tone selected, the tonal distribution varies depending on the image content. Sometimes parts of the tonal range get so compressed as to become quite unusable. But this is not how NLP is supposed to be used with B&W.

    The recommended way is to first convert the raw dng to a tiff (e.g. in VueScan) and run that tiff through the NLP's gamma tool before giving it to NLP itself. Then the results are nice and predictable but there are a couple of issues with this approach. First, the gamma tool saves the tiff as a new file with the histogram taking only about 40% of the usable range (for gamma 1.0, linear). For (the required) 16bit files this may not be horrible but this still is a destructive step. Second, after already doing most of the work manually, we end up in the NLP UI where all we can do is to use the same controls already available in Lightroom.

    Maybe it does make sense and I'm missing something, but it seems that just opening the same original tiff in Photoshop and assigning a grey space with a chosen gamma is quicker, easier, less destructive, more flexible, and completely controllable.

    This is not to negate the NLP benefits for color negatives, which are immense. For someone going after a particular look, fast, NLP with B&W may also be a good choice. My priority at this step is a linear (and soft - gamma corrected) source, matching the physical negative's natural tonal distribution as much as possible. Subsequent steps take care of the look.

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