Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Experiments with Black and White Reversal Process

Years ago I discovered an article about doing black and white reversal imaging. This process uses normal color film but substitutes one step in the developing process to "tone" the image, creating a reversal image (positive).

I finally got the materials some weeks ago and did some experimenting. It worked, but I had to calibrate the process for my EI (which is much lower than the rated film speed generally).

Anyway, the first test shot I did was of my girlfriend, using 4x5 Fuji CDU II duplicating film (E-6 process), which is a really slow film that is tungsten balanced. I figured it would be a good starting test film. Here is the result:

She isn't smiling because it was a long exposure by the way!

I also tried shooting some normal black and white film, but on most films I tried the emulsion would get destroyed, except T-Max 100. This was HP5+:

So after thinking more about it, I decided to try some old C-41 negative film, which actually works quite well and has huge dynamic range, but I've discovered it's best to overexpose it 2-3 stops from the normal ISO rating...in fact I couldn't really "overexpose" it no matter how I shot it. Here are a variety of shots I took while experimenting:



A lot of people may ask, what's the point? Well, for all of the above shots, I was using Kodak Gold 200 35mm film, which is old and expired. The colors are kind of messed up and it's really grainy when used normally. I was given about 20 rolls of this stuff and I hate to throw it away. But when processed like this, it's almost grain-free and of course has no color problems. I really like the results after dialing in the process, so it's an easy way to shoot this and other old films I find. I also have several hundred sheets of very old 4x5 E-6 film that I will use like this most likely. So this is really helpful for someone using older film, especially me since I shoot a lot just for fun. I might not use it for "serious" photos but it works so well, maybe so.

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