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Evan Andrew John Prosofsky

Shooting Black and White

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Hey guys, just chiming in. I'm really enjoying the discussion here and learning a lot. Thanks for all the info.

 

However, one question which I asked originally still hasn't been answered. "Should I treat my negative any differently (when shooting B+W) than I would with color? Eg. Is it still a good idea to over-expose by 2/3ds of a stop-ish?"

 

I guess, in general what I should be asking is...

 

-Does black and white stock (either reversal or negative) react to over and under exposure differently than color negative and reversal stock?

 

Thanks very much,

 

Evan

 

ps

If anybody would like to chime in about various 'color filtration methods' they use when shooting B+W to maintain greater tonality within the frame, I'd be interested to hear.

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Well, normally it's 1/3 to 1/2 a stop of underexposure, not 2/3, but yes, the same thing holds true with color negative as does with B&W. I recall some production notes on here that indicated otherwise, but this is what I have always done.

 

 

I'm assuming you're talking about neg. Reversal you just want to leave alone, maybe 1/3 over, but you never never never want to make a mistake with reversal.

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I've just done camera tests with XX neg and Tri-X reversal with an S16 SR2 for a student film. I can't wait to see how they turn out, but lately, people have been criticizing the choice of shooting BW and not shooting 7213/7207 and desaturating.

 

Can anyone comment on the exact differences between shooting 7222 and 7213 and desaturating (for the sake of equal tungsten asa). My understanding is that the silver halide crystals on a BW film negative are not bleached away as they usually are when processing a color film negative. So at once, the makeup of the two processed films is very different.

 

Also, does color film have the same sort of relative brightness control that BW film has? Such as using a red filter, etc.

 

I feel as though I can tell the difference between drained color and BW (see 'The White Ribbon' which is beautifully shot, but the BW looks a little lifeless), but can a colorist not come very close to making them appear the same? Blacks and whites look nicer than muddy greyscale, but can't a colorist just manipulate the hell out of it? I guess the grain structure of BW will look different than the dye cloud of color, but besides this structural difference, what makes BW photographically superior to desaturated color?

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If you color-correct the RGB channels separately before turning the color negative image to monochrome, you have similar controls over color contrast as you would shooting b&w with color contrast filters, you can darken blues or reds, etc.

 

The main difference between b&w and color negative is the grain structure -- b&w is made up of silver grains, developed color images are made up of color dye clouds, not actual grains (unless you leave the silver in by doing a skip-bleach process, which may be interesting if the final goal is a b&w image.)

 

The anti-halation backing is different as well, b&w is more prone to halation around candles, car headlamps, etc. -- sort of a ring effect.

 

B&W responds to push or pull-processing better as a way of controlling contrast.

 

You're going to find that the 7213 image is a LOT less grainy than the Double-X image, and probably sharper. Double-X stock dates back to the late 1950's.

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Ansel Adams stated "Expose for the Shadows".

 

That is only half the story. Adams would expose for the shadows, but would also push or pull process to gain his desired highlight density. This was possible because he was shooting large format sheet film. It is not possible with motion picture film as each roll generally contains a range of scenes, each with different subjects and contrast ranges.

 

Following this advice blindly when shooting could easily result in very blown out whites and highlights.

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That is only half the story. Adams would expose for the shadows, but would also push or pull process to gain his desired highlight density. This was possible because he was shooting large format sheet film. It is not possible with motion picture film as each roll generally contains a range of scenes, each with different subjects and contrast ranges.

 

Following this advice blindly when shooting motion picture B&W could easily result in very blown out whites and highlights.

 

This seems a bit nutty when I think back on it, but for my thesis in school, I shot a lot of B&W exteriors. I was very used to zone system exposure and processing large format so I would actually have 3 mags loaded: one for -1, one for normal, and one for +1 processing. It was slightly cumbersome sometimes but it really did help me out with some tough exposure situations.

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Thank you for the response. Very informative. Tri-x is in the mix as well, but I don't know if the limited nature of the stock will work for us.

 

If you color-correct the RGB channels separately before turning the color negative image to monochrome, you have similar controls over color contrast as you would shooting b&w with color contrast filters, you can darken blues or reds, etc.

 

The main difference between b&w and color negative is the grain structure -- b&w is made up of silver grains, developed color images are made up of color dye clouds, not actual grains (unless you leave the silver in by doing a skip-bleach process, which may be interesting if the final goal is a b&w image.)

 

The anti-halation backing is different as well, b&w is more prone to halation around candles, car headlamps, etc. -- sort of a ring effect.

 

B&W responds to push or pull-processing better as a way of controlling contrast.

 

You're going to find that the 7213 image is a LOT less grainy than the Double-X image, and probably sharper. Double-X stock dates back to the late 1950's.

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Because the awesome and beloved Plus-X is no longer available I would suggest either Tri-X reversal for 16mm or 5222 for 35mm maybe pulled a stop. There is nothing like actual B&W film and I have shot Plus-X reversal and processed it as negative and then cut it into a 16mm neg cut with Plus-X negative (7231) for a print finish and it cut well.

 

-Rob-

 

RIP Plus-X we shall miss thee...

 

 

 

Hey Robert, I was wondering what Stock you shot the Psychic Alchemist on.

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Thank you for the response. Very informative. Tri-x is in the mix as well, but I don't know if the limited nature of the stock will work for us.

 

 

Have you ever shot with a mini dv camcorder, say like a xl1 or vx1000? If yes, then you have shot with very similar dynamic range, similar to bw reversal. People harp on Tri x a bit, but it is not anywhere near as difficult as it it made out to be. I recommend you test some to see for your self. Much like dv, it isn't 5219, but it isn't that bad either. Meter for the highlights and add to the shadows or not. Here in the golden age of youtube type quality, the blown out highlights or extreme contrast that can happen are no big deal. For rock shows and weddings I shoot, sometimes I push Tri X super 8 two stops for extremely grain and high contrast, the people love it!

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Evan, here's my $0.02:

 

- No matter what film stock you use, b&w in many lighting situations requires special lighting technique. You cannot depend on different colour shadings to separate elements from each other.

 

- There is no shortcut to "classic black & white" because there are many different styles. Look at some DVDs - look at A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, THE HILL, THE HUSTLER, SHANGHAI EXPRESS, MANHATTAN - totally different stylistic approaches. What do you intend to do?

 

- Most b&w stocks are available in 35mm, so get a still camera and shoot some setups like you would when shooting the movie. Print or scan your negatives, anything you can do in Photoshop can be done later with digital film tools.

 

- Do the same with color neg and desaturate it digitally. Do you see a difference, and if so, which one do you prefer?

 

- Two reasons for shooting b&w movies in colour used to be the lack of decent b&w lab work in many locations and the finer grain structure of high speed color stock compared to - as Karl said before - some very old b&w emulsions. Do you have a lab that does quality b&w work or not? If not, color negative may be the better way to go.

 

Filmotec stocks

 

From my personal experience, I recommend Filmotec-Orwo's b/w negative stocks, both the EI 100/21 and the EI 400/27 types give excellent results. I definitely prefer the Orwo to Eastman's b&w stocks. There used to be some problems with certain Arricams (do a forum search), but I heard this was fixed. I never had any problem running Orwo through Konvas, Debrie and Arri 2C cameras.

 

Do some tests and decide what you like best. To find out more about classic b&w lighting techniques, read PROFESSIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY by Charles G. Clarke and PAINTING WITH LIGHT by John Alton, both classic texts available as reprints.

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Evan, here's my $0.02:

 

- No matter what film stock you use, b&w in many lighting situations requires special lighting technique. You cannot depend on different colour shadings to separate elements from each other.

 

- There is no shortcut to "classic black & white" because there are many different styles. Look at some DVDs - look at A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, THE HILL, THE HUSTLER, SHANGHAI EXPRESS, MANHATTAN - totally different stylistic approaches. What do you intend to do?

 

- Most b&w stocks are available in 35mm, so get a still camera and shoot some setups like you would when shooting the movie. Print or scan your negatives, anything you can do in Photoshop can be done later with digital film tools.

 

- Do the same with color neg and desaturate it digitally. Do you see a difference, and if so, which one do you prefer?

 

- Two reasons for shooting b&w movies in colour used to be the lack of decent b&w lab work in many locations and the finer grain structure of high speed color stock compared to - as Karl said before - some very old b&w emulsions. Do you have a lab that does quality b&w work or not? If not, color negative may be the better way to go.

 

Filmotec stocks

 

From my personal experience, I recommend Filmotec-Orwo's b/w negative stocks, both the EI 100/21 and the EI 400/27 types give excellent results. I definitely prefer the Orwo to Eastman's b&w stocks. There used to be some problems with certain Arricams (do a forum search), but I heard this was fixed. I never had any problem running Orwo through Konvas, Debrie and Arri 2C cameras.

 

Do some tests and decide what you like best. To find out more about classic b&w lighting techniques, read PROFESSIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY by Charles G. Clarke and PAINTING WITH LIGHT by John Alton, both classic texts available as reprints.

 

I was having some issues with my account. Anyway, Orwo BW film is intriguing, but can you go into detail about the purchasing/processing...process? Are there any examples of this film around the net?

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Albeit not a cinematographer, I currently enjoy reading Painting With Light by John Alton. His life was almost as fascinating as his feverish devotion to pure art, sometimes best expressed via black and white images of his mastery of painting with light.

9780520089495.jpg

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