Paint It Black

January 05, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Paint It Black

Auntie Em 1 wmAuntie Em 1 wm

When I started photography in my teens, black and white was what I shot.  B&W is a great place to hone your skills and perfect your art.
And it's fun to explore the intricacies of working in grayscale.

B&W film has all sorts of nuances as well, even different characteristics in different brands, the two top choices being Kodak, and Ilford. Growing up in Rochester NY, Kodak was my go-to and my favorite was Kodak Professional Tri-X Pan 400.

Kodak’s Tri-X 400 was perfect to load for pretty much every situation. With an ISO of 400, made it capable of capturing scenes in environments with less-than optimal light. What made it stand out from the competition, though, was its fine grain, which produced sharp, high-quality pictures, with high contrast, deep blacks, and clean whites. A forgiving film with great latitude, you could play with exposures and still get pleasing results.

It is still available today, and though I still have the first camera I started with, I no longer use it. It’s a 1951 Leica Ic. I don’t want to damage it.

Leica 1951 Ic_05Leica 1951 Ic_05
That said there is a Photo Software, DXO FilmPack. This is from from their website:
“DxO FilmPack faithfully takes almost 200 years’ worth of photographic science and keeps it alive, giving you instant access to historic film stocks. Experience the precision, satisfaction, and undefinable joy of darkroom processing and printing techniques but with the reassuring ease of digital.”

It’s pretty cool, and it allowed me to convert this image into a facsimile of a shot taken with Tri-X Pan 400. I did my edits, boosting contrast, adjusting black and whites, and then converted it in the DXO software.

That leads me to this post. Winters here in the northeast are dreary. Continuous days of grey. For a photographer that can be a challenge, unless you accept them and find ways work with it.

One of the amazing things about Ansel Adams was his ability to “see” in black and white. His amazing photographs were created by that ability, to see scenes that were in color, (yes the world was in color in the 1920’s) and vision the result in Black and White, using full tonal range. So much so that he and Fred Archer, (a portrait photographer, specializing early in his career in portraits of Hollywood movie stars. He was associated with the artistic trend in photography known as pictorialism. He later became a photography teacher, and ran his own photography school for many years ) created the Zone System, a method of achieving a desired final print through a technical understanding of how the tonal range of an image is the result of choices made in exposure, negative development, and printing.

So, in these days of grey, the trees bare of their summer foliage, the grasses dormant, I work on my love of black and white, the first medium I started using. 

And yes, the title is a reference to the “Stones” tune, I thought it fitting to associate a song popular from the time I started my photography journey.



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