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Thread: Reasons for using reversal film?

  1. #21

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    As a personal judgement on current digital based color prints.. Meh..
    What digital imaging has made easy and available to many is the ability to bend the data based image to an individual's will, intent, desires and more. Inherently not a bad thing, just very revealing of the vision, imagination, creativity much of who the individual bending the image might be.
    Interesting personal view given what follows after "Meh"

    My preference for my project is analogue prints from negatives. I've also considered scanning. As part of thinking about scanning, I looked at the current prices of medium format digital cameras and backs. They have come down a lot. A camera like the Fujifilm GFX 100S is within reach. I think that I would sell my analogue camera and lenses, and buy a medium format digital camera, rather than shoot analogue and scan.

    However, while I haven't made a final decision, I'm currently on an analogue camera/analogue printing track.

  2. #22
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Chromogenic RA4 printing directly from color negatives is actually one of the easiest and most straightforward forms of printing there is in terms of the mechanics of it. And it can be more affordable than either fiber-based black and white printing or other avenues of color printing. Inkjet certainly isn't cheap when you consider what goes into it in terms of time, materials, and periodic replacement of equipment and software. On the other hand, a well-built enlarger could easily last a hundred years. The relevant RA4 papers don't seem to be in any danger of disappearing anytime soon - nearly all the same papers that work for the big commercial laser printers work with ordinary darkroom colorheads too, although certain papers in certain markets might be temporarily hard to get due to pandemic backlog issues.

    All that being said, chromogenic printing is just like any other printmaking skill in that one just keeps learning and improving. You have to shoot, print... shoot, print....many times over and over again, to really understand how a given film and paper respond to your vision, or else how to bend your own expectations to the native characteristics of the media itself. Having a certain amount of restriction with respect to the characteristic signature of particular film and paper combination is actually the key to moving ahead efficiently. The temptation with digital, on the other hand, is that just because so many things are hypothetically possible, so many different directions, that nothing really gets mastered, at least not by very many practitioners. Less is more.

    In the meantime, competent services which will do the C41 processing of your film can supply relatively affordable scans by which to view your negatives, just to see if you're on the right track until you become comfortable with that particular film. No need for expensive drum scans or other top end scans, since this is only for sake of general valuation and not actual printing. But if substituting smaller format film just for sake of saving money during the learning curve, use at least 120 format. The smaller sampling size of 35mm frames is often misleading with mid to lower quality scans.

    If you go with Ektar, carry at least a 1B light pinkish skylight filter for minor color cast corrections, plus a KR1.5 or alternately 81A for sake of overall bluish overcast days. Meter this film with as much care as you would a color chrome, and you won't have any problems. The filter factors for each of the above two filters will be negligible. Portra 160 is balanced a little warmer, so you might not need any supplementary filtration at all unless the lighting is way off; but experiment to suit your own taste. Porta 400 is somewhere in between, but closer in hue characteristics to Porta 160 than Ektar.

  3. #23

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Gotta agree with Drew on this. Specially, "to really understand how a given film and paper respond to your vision, or else how to bend your own expectations to the native characteristics of the media itself. Having a certain amount of restriction with respect to the characteristic signature of particular film and paper combination is actually the key to moving ahead efficiently. The temptation with digital, on the other hand, is that just because so many things are hypothetically possible, so many different directions, that nothing really gets mastered, at least not by very many practitioners. Less is more."

    As for color film or color digital, read from post# 27:
    https://www.largeformatphotography.i...-and-now/page3


    IMO, digital work flow image making does offer a bursting variety and ability to bend images.. This places more demands on the print and image goals with piles more ability to never meet or achieve the goal intended. These words might come across as "makes zero sense".. think about this and consider the much bigger overall system and ponder why?


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Chromogenic RA4 printing directly from color negatives is actually one of the easiest and most straightforward forms of printing there is in terms of the mechanics of it. And it can be more affordable than either fiber-based black and white printing or other avenues of color printing. Inkjet certainly isn't cheap when you consider what goes into it in terms of time, materials, and periodic replacement of equipment and software. On the other hand, a well-built enlarger could easily last a hundred years. The relevant RA4 papers don't seem to be in any danger of disappearing anytime soon - nearly all the same papers that work for the big commercial laser printers work with ordinary darkroom colorheads too, although certain papers in certain markets might be temporarily hard to get due to pandemic backlog issues.

    All that being said, chromogenic printing is just like any other printmaking skill in that one just keeps learning and improving. You have to shoot, print... shoot, print....many times over and over again, to really understand how a given film and paper respond to your vision, or else how to bend your own expectations to the native characteristics of the media itself. Having a certain amount of restriction with respect to the characteristic signature of particular film and paper combination is actually the key to moving ahead efficiently. The temptation with digital, on the other hand, is that just because so many things are hypothetically possible, so many different directions, that nothing really gets mastered, at least not by very many practitioners. Less is more.

    In the meantime, competent services which will do the C41 processing of your film can supply relatively affordable scans by which to view your negatives, just to see if you're on the right track until you become comfortable with that particular film. No need for expensive drum scans or other top end scans, since this is only for sake of general valuation and not actual printing. But if substituting smaller format film just for sake of saving money during the learning curve, use at least 120 format. The smaller sampling size of 35mm frames is often misleading with mid to lower quality scans.

    If you go with Ektar, carry at least a 1B light pinkish skylight filter for minor color cast corrections, plus a KR1.5 or alternately 81A for sake of overall bluish overcast days. Meter this film with as much care as you would a color chrome, and you won't have any problems. The filter factors for each of the above two filters will be negligible. Portra 160 is balanced a little warmer, so you might not need any supplementary filtration at all unless the lighting is way off; but experiment to suit your own taste. Porta 400 is somewhere in between, but closer in hue characteristics to Porta 160 than Ektar.

  4. #24

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Yea, RA-4 is nice... And materials are still made and not too expensive...

    But I'm spoiled not having access to a well running processor where you feed a test strip or exposed paper into, and 3 minutes later, out comes a dry, finished print!!!

    An upgrade I added was putting a colorhead over a condenser enlarger that added a noticeable "snap" to the images...

    Made the RA-4's almost look like Cibas...

    Steve K

  5. #25
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    If you want the real Ciba look, use Fujiflex Supergloss media, itself polyester rather than RC paper based. And some color negs will need a supplemental contrast-increase mask to boost the contrast to Ciba level with rich deep blacks (versus the contrast reduction masks generally needed for actual Ciba work with chromes). Basic stuff. But Ciba also needed aggressive masking for sake of inherent color idiosyncrasies. Current CN / RA4 options are less squirrelly in that respect.

  6. #26

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Thanks for more good advice. I expect to have Drew's recommended filters by the end of the month, at which point I'll start my Ektar/Portra tests using 4x5 sheet film. I have a Mamiya 7II, and plan to shoot some 6x7 as well.

    I've decided to hire a lab to print my photographs. There are mundane and proficiency reasons for this. The mundane reason is that I live in a New York apartment, and the few do-it-yourself labs here, including a well-established co-op lab in Bushwick, are both inconvenient by public transport and not inexpensive.

    However, the main reason is that I know what a good analogue printer can do, and I'm prepared to pay for that expertise and craftsmanship. I've had the opportunity to watch a friend make prints for Peter Lindbergh and Sebastião Selgado. I think that my time is better spent making photographs than pretending to be an accomplished printer My friend lives in Paris, and is not in the best of health, so I'm making inquiries about printers here.

    That said, I really appreciate the comments on colour printing. The more that I understand about it, the better.
    Last edited by r.e.; 21-Jul-2021 at 10:34.

  7. #27

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    The photochemical color print process is complex and in many ways a world of it's own. This was one of the reasons why back in the color film centric days specialist labs that did BIG color prints excellent were a speciality and worth their what they were paid in many ways. There are only two color labs in the SF bay area that is deeply missed.

    Color Three Labs in San Francisco. Once run-owned by long time friend Tim Hall. Their speciality was GIANT sized color prints. These were made from GIANT rolls of Kodak color paper using an highly modified Durst 184 enlarger head built into converted elevator shaft. Take the time to watch this Tim Hall video to get some sense of the Artist-Photographers Tim worked with and the GIANT color prints they produced for countess exhibits nation wide back in those days.
    The Color Three Lab's print finishing room can be seen at 11:22 in this video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76SdcpUYYUk


    The other deeply missed color lab was The New Lab in San Francisco. They were the E6 color transparency processing specialist serving the entire SF bay area Foto community in ways only The New Lab could. Story about The New Lab from another Artist-Photographer.
    http://christianpeacock.com/christia...ant-to-us.html

    After the Hey-Day of these two color labs, essentially stopped doing any images in color as that was about the time when Digital imaging was pushing color film off the print making methods.

    IMO, wise to chose and hire a GOOD color lab to make prints. Do try your very best to provide that chosen color lab and color printer the very best film originals to work with. It will produce better color prints, far less verbiage from the color printer and color lab with all involved less stressed.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    Thanks for more good advice. I expect to have Drew's recommended filters by the end of the month, at which point I'll start my Ektar/Portra tests using 4x5 sheet film.

    I've decided to hire a lab to print the photos. There are mundane and proficiency reasons for this. The mundane reason is that I live in a New York apartment, and the few do-it-yourself labs here, including a popular community lab in Bushwick, are both inconvenient by public transport and not inexpensive.

    However, the main reason is that I know what a good printer can do, and I'm prepared to pay for that expertise and craftsmanship. I've had the opportunity to watch a friend make prints for Peter Lindbergh and Sebastião Selgado. I know my place, and I've decided that my time is better spent making photographs than pretending to be a printer. Unfortunately, my friend is not in the best of health, and in any event lives in Paris, so I'm making inquiries about printers here.

    That said, I really appreciate the comments on colour printing. The more that I understand about it, the better.

  8. #28
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Bernice, the mostly highly equipped SF color lab was hardly known to the public, bigger than New Lab, and mainly worked for just a handful of big overseas corporate clients, and mostly from 8x10 chrome originals, which were E6 processed in house. Chromogenic and Ciba prints were both offered. At one time about 13 commercial 8x10 enlargers were in use, plus around another 20 4X5 units. There were also three full service labs in the East Bay around the same time capable of huge color and black and white work mural work. There was a also a tower-like giant color print specialist doing strictly 35mm blowups at lower rates for amateurs and big casual ad use (much lower quality). There were also a couple of DT printing operations, but not for sake of large prints. Quite a bit was going on.

    But thanks for the links. What killed off all the full-service labs was not so much big digital prints, because that became offered in parallel too, both laser and injket, rather than as an outright replacement to optical emlargement. Rather, the demise was more due to the cannibalistic nature of urban redevelopment and "gentrification", which leveled a lot of industrial and warehouse spaces in order to make room for higher taxed luxury condos, techie office spaces, and absurdly expensive fru-fru ground level retail leases. That wiped out all three of our picture frame supply wholesalers too, even though the demand for that kind of product remains high. A number of little specialty photo labs have popped up and are doing well; but anything resembling a classic full-service lab in the Bay Area is long gone.

    A new start up based on the leftover equipment and personnel of one a former local lab (not any previously alluded to, but more recent) is at least offering nearby development of both C41 and E6 up to 8x10, plus scanning services. But to get a reasonable lease, it's in a sketchy part of Oakland I wouldn't want to visit very often.
    Last edited by Drew Wiley; 21-Jul-2021 at 16:59.

  9. #29

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post

    IMO, wise to chose and hire a GOOD color lab to make prints. Do try your very best to provide that chosen color lab and color printer the very best film originals to work with. It will produce better color prints, far less verbiage from the color printer and color lab with all involved less stressed.
    Very good advice.

  10. #30

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    I was curious why most of the big labs in LA were quietly changing hands in the 90's, and asked several (former) lab managers what happened... (This was the pre-digital era...) They said the Kodak, Fuji, and other reps met with them and used "scare tactics" to inform them their future was dead, not due to digital, but rather they needed to be able to compete with other labs by purchasing the large scale, very expensive tech assisted systems they were trying to sell (some way over 500 grand)... One operator could do the work of an entire department they said!!! And other departments could have other semi-automated systems and guess who would sell them materials, training, service contracts etc??? The labs ran the numbers, and realized the systems would cost more than the profits!!! This frightened most big lab owners, so businesses quietly changed hands...

    The new owners bought in with the idea they had an existing client base, but their business models changed when digital applications appeared (many clients could do in-house), so labs started to run down... Decades old employees from specialty departments were asked to help out in other sections of the leaner labs, but most were stuck in their ways, and eventually laid-off... Big labs shrunk until they closed... Some big labs that owned the property found they could make more money by renting or selling property than producing and paying idle staff...

    Let's see what model newer or smaller labs have now with this current boom going on... I hope they thrive...

    Steve K

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