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Photography Question 
Donald C. Yaremko
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/18/2006

Old bw images

I have serveral old 1908-1920 bw images and I love the look of them and I am wondering if anyone can tell me how to replicate that feel with a digital camera, I have tried everthing that I know and I just can't seem to get that same look, I have tried many different focal lenghts and many different apertures, I am stuck. HELP please. What am I missing.

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6/12/2008 5:02:15 PM

What you are missing is the fact you haven't explained what "that same look" is. And since a picture is worth 1,000 words I'd post a few 800x600s of them so that we may know of what you speak.
Next it would be helpful to know exactly what settings etc. you used when you tried to replicate "that same look". And that you posted here what that resulted in.
And of course it may be informative to know what equipment, body, lens, flash and/or tripod maybe, you use.

Then we'd have something to go on.
As it is, we don't.

Have fun!

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6/12/2008 7:13:25 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Donald,

Black and white photography has about 150 year head start. When I was a boy, working after high school as a darkroom technician, in the 1950’s, black & white was in its heyday. We perused books containing samples of black & white papers. The images were beautiful, they leaped off the pages. We could buy papers with - rich blacks coupled with snow white. We could buy olive - blue-black – warm – cold. We could buy textures - gloss –semi gloss – sheen – tapestry – silk – linen – the list goes on-and-on.

Additionally we could choose between dozens of different black & white films. We had hundreds of developer formulas plus toners. We had a gadget bag filled with color filters to alter contrast and monochromic rendering. We could make blue tones or brown or sepia or gold or platinum, the list was endless. No need to tell you that each combination had a different look and feel. Some were elegant – some were charming some were spooky.

One more point – the results did not come quick. We had little in the way of automation. Our cameras were always were set manually. Exposure settings were an acquired skill. After the picture was taken came the darkroom. Fist film developing followed by printing, then re-printing. In earlier times the photographer had to make his/her own film (wet plates). The images had to be taken and developed before the plates dried. All and all we were more careful and we studied this art and its science.

Can we, using today’s materials replicate black & white in its heyday?
Likely we can but the price is high and the learning curve steep.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

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6/13/2008 7:30:12 AM

Donald C. Yaremko
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/18/2006
  Thanks for the info Alan, that is exactly what I was refering to, the way they seem to almost have a 3D look and you could climb into the picture if you looked at it long enough, I have not as of yet been able to achive what was done with a camera that was mostly cardboard. That helps explain why, thank you very much.

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6/13/2008 7:51:12 AM

Jerry Frazier   I agree with Alan except for the last part. I don't think you can. I think you can come close, but I just haven't seen anyone get there with digital. Maybe someone out there has replicated the look. But, I haven't seen anyone replicate fibre prints. Digital printing is just different. The capture is different. And, therefore, the print is going to wind up different.

I'm back to shooting some film again because there is a quality to it that I miss.

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6/15/2008 6:12:58 AM

Donald C. Yaremko
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/18/2006
  You could be right, I guess the other thing about them that blows me away is the depth of field, some of them seem to be crisp from front to back with a clarity that I am so far unable to match, I guess that is why I try to learn more everyday, I may never get what I am looking for but I will sure have fun trying.

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6/15/2008 7:54:18 AM

Jerry Frazier   Many BW images you look at might be shot with medium or large format cameras. You cannot compare those with 35mm or current 35mm-like digital cameras. They are a different breed. I have a medium format BW image that hangs in my living room that I took of my son. I use that as a comparison for all my digital BW work. So far, there's just no comparison.

If you want to try it out, you can rent a 4x5 camera and take it out and do a few shoots with it. While the processing is a little expensive. Man, once you see the images it can produce, you'll have a hard time shooting with anything else. Or, at least, you'll understand the limitations of most other equipment.

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6/15/2008 1:51:10 PM

Donald C. Yaremko
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/18/2006
  Thanks Jerry, I can't believe I never thought of that, I think that one of the cameras used 120 film, I am not sure about the other but this makes perfect sense. I will look into renting one for a day it should be fun.

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6/25/2008 12:03:52 PM

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