BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Douglas Stevenson

Equipment and Starting Out

I am planning on setting up one of those shops that have the fantasy/old time photos. I have always been very good with a camera and loved photography, but in a professional buisness... I need different tools. What are those old brown/white photos called... and are there any books on how to do it? What kind of camera would I need to use for this kind of work... Including digital for pictures that would need to be digitaly altered then Printed.... And finaly, are there any good books on how to do this kind of photography that would help me out further. I was trying to look this stuff up myself, but I honestly cant make heads or tails out of what im looking for. I REALY appreciate your time.

Doug Stevenson

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2/13/2003 9:05:13 PM

Rebekah R. Hunt  
  My godchild
My godchild
© Rebekah R. Hunt
I know that you can get a sepia filter whcih will give the old time brownish affect on the pictures. It works well and makes the pictures look great. You can also use black and white film. As far as digital is concerned there is a whole world of opportunites to transfrom the pictures. I have a program through my digital camera that will change my color or black and white pictures into a sepia colored picture which is the brownish tint and I print them out on my photo printer and they look great.

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2/19/2003 7:28:24 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
If there is such a thing as a "sepia filter" for a camera, then B+W, Heliopan, Hoya and/or Tiffen have really slipped one past me and created somthing quite magical. No filter can create a monotone image on color film, and there's no filter that will make a "sepia" on B&W film.

Toned B&W prints date to the 19th Century, how the B&W print emulsions used then aged, and the metal toning that was done to give prints a longer archival life. The sepia color is how many emulsions from that era aged (precious metal toning created entirely different color casts).

With film, shoot it in B&W and then have the negatives you want in sepia printed by a full-service pro lab. A B&W print is toned by adding a few steps to the standard B&W print development process. Talk to them about sepia, brown and "rapid selenium" toning, ask if they have any other toning methods, and ask to see some samples. Depending on the specific B&W print paper they use, you may find you like the brown or rapid selenium toning better.

Some labs will also offer to make "sepia" prints from B&W negatives by printing them on color paper and setting up the color balancing filter pack on the enlarger to give the prints a light brown color cast. This method has not worked that reliably for me. The exact color cast has not been very repeatable from roll to roll, or if a negative is reprinted. The lab you use might be better at consistently getting the same color tint.

With digital images, Rebekah is correct that you can manipulate the digital image to just about any monotone you want.

-- John

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2/20/2003 11:18:48 PM

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