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Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Christopher Delaney
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/17/2006

Help my B&W 's have color!

First off, Hello I am a new member and new student of photography! I took my first B&W photo's and it was with a new camera for me, I was playing around in manual mode trying to get a feel for it! My ? is some photos came out with green color to them and some others had blue and yellow tints to the whole frame. I did not develope them myself, I sent them out! It seemed to me that the ones I did at low shutter speeds had the greenish tint and the fast speed had the blue. The ones in auto mode were pretty B&W. Whats a good way to avoid this again!

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11/18/2006 5:14:26 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Not have them printed on color paper. Print on black and white paper. Sounds like what happened.

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11/18/2006 10:59:44 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Chris,

B&W films sent out for processing and the prints returned are not neutral in color:

Years ago most labs process and printing only B&W film. In those days the problem you describe did not exist. Today itís a different story:
We can assume the film was developed OK and the problem lies in the labs printing methods. Nevertheless you should examine the negatives looking for spots or stains. Find any? Take the film back and demand an explanation.

Now letís talk about printing systems.
I will assume you took the film down the street to a typical one-hour processing shop.

Because the photo papers for color and B&W are not compatible, two separate printer/processors are required. One to print color film exposing on color paper and another to print B&W exposing on B&W paper.

Most often the small shop will not have enough B&W film volume to support a separate B&W printer/paper processor. Small labs will utilize a workaround using their color printer/paper process. They adjust their printerís color balance to produce a natural looking print on conventional color paper. Achieving a neutral (B&W) print is next to impossible. Even if they succeed they canít sustain repeatable results day after day. The task complexity is overwhelming. However, some customers a quite pleased and often the resulting prints which are generally sepia (red-brown) or more likely olive, quite pleasing. However slight misadjusts cause the prints to take on other not so pleasing hues.

If the labís volume of B&W printing is high they might purchase a chromogenic paper. This is a color paper designed to produce a B&W print and itís compatible with their normal color chemistry. The results are near neutral prints. When B&W volume is low the lab canít afford the costs necessary to keep this paper in stock and the time required to keep the printer adjusted to make optimum prints on it.

Large specialty labs will maintain B&W film developing machines and printers. Thes labs produce top quality B&W results. You must shop around for one.

Alan Marcus

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11/19/2006 4:51:30 AM

Christopher Delaney
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/17/2006
  Thanks a million! I am so happy to be a part of this community, the imformation I can recieve is priceless!

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11/19/2006 9:35:34 AM

anonymous A.    While the way a negative was obtained will have no bearing on the printing process, there is the question of film.
There are actually two types of film commonly sold to produce monochrome prints. Standard film (eg Tri-X) is based on silver salts, but there isalso a dye based emulsion refered to as "chromogenic" film. It can be developed in the same chemicals as colour negative films (C41) by any lab which just treats it as if it was a colour film. The results are very good and the chemistry and machines work fine with this film.

Printing is a different matter: as Alan pointed out, you need to insist they use B&W paper; printed on paper designed for "ordinary" colour prints, it looks pink (the other colours you mention are not typical of the film...they sound like your film was misprocessed). Printed on appropriate paper, they are fantastic, especially at holding up the highlight detail in even dark prints. Ilford XP2 is a very good example.

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11/30/2006 5:13:28 AM

Christopher Delaney
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/17/2006
  Thanks David! I looked at your gallery and I love your work! You mentioned under one of your photo's you got that shot on you way to see a family who has a son with a drug problem! I wonder are you a counselor ? My thought when I saw that Image was , Who needs drugs with beauty like that. I think if someone who had a drug problem took up a hobby like photography, it could for sure fill a void in any life! It has with me, I was so stressed with running 2 business's that I thought I would have a breakdown. This new hobby has calmed me down a bit. I only hope to be half as good as you and some of the other talented people here!

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11/30/2006 8:36:47 AM

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