"1940s look" on B/W enlargement

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Adam, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. Sounds like a job for a PalmPilot and a darkroom
    I take the most notes when taking pictures
    that need not and should not be taken: boring,
    pedestrian, uninteresting, so what, hum ho...
    usually bracketed to a fair-thee-well.

    If it is the perfect shot there are no notes.

    I suppose I can only do one thing at a time:
    take pictures or take notes.

    The most useless notes are ones noting the
    shutter speed and aperture unless there was
    something special about the ones picked.

    Now what sort of dance I did with the spot meter
    that led me to the (invariably very wrong) exposure I
    used is useful information.

    My notes are a compendium of what _not_ to do.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Mar 15, 2007
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  2. Adam

    Lloyd Erlick Guest

    March 16, 2007, from Lloyd Erlick,

    Yeah, lots of button pushing. I employ a
    device with but a single button on the end of
    a short cylinder, out of which protrudes a
    tiny pointed tip suitable for writing with
    the digits whenever the little button is

    But lately I've caught myself in the act of
    scanning the papyrus on which I've scribed my
    notes. I now have a burgeoning computer file
    of printing notes. I put an image file of how
    I've cropped the neg for the print, too,
    numbered appropriately so it stays with the
    note page.

    The Google product called Picasa2 is a
    wonderful image filing and cataloguing and
    viewing program. I literally use it to read
    my notes (which are all stored as jpg files).
    So who sez I haven't come into the modern
    age, even though I use film?

    My notes really have been no more than the
    compendium you mentioned. But also, I've
    never been interested in much out of my notes
    except for what I did wrong, and very
    occasionally what I chanced to do right when
    I thought I was doing something else.

    Sometimes I make prints that I know will look
    very much like each other, but have slight
    differences. My notes make it easier to
    eventually get around to comparing them when
    they've been finished.

    Also, over the long term the notebook turns
    into a special form of personal diary. Once
    in a while during a darkroom session I have
    insightful thoughts, and they get into that

    Lloyd Erlick Portraits, Toronto.
    website: www.heylloyd.com
    telephone: 416-686-0326
    Lloyd Erlick, Mar 16, 2007
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  3. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Hmmm. The Tri-X I bought from B&H in January says "Made in USA,
    Finished in Mexico for Eastman Kodak Company."
    What does "professional" mean on B/W film? I know what it means on
    color film, regarding the color shift.
    I agree! I think that is probably the biggest reason that I'm not sure
    how to obtain it.
    I have a catalog from Freestyle that I requested online last fall. They
    do have a much wider selection, but I really think I'd better
    concentrate on learning the basics of darkroom work before I get into

    BTW the college is 70 miles from NYC, so it's an easy day trip by car or
    train. On the first day of class, the instructor said something like,
    "Here is a list of supplies you have to buy. You can get most, but not
    all, locally, but you'll pay twice as much. You can get all of them
    from B&H, Adorama, or Alkit in NYC." Some students went to NYC, some
    bought locally, I ordered online from B&H, except for the few things
    that couldn't be shipped, like compressed air. Example: 35mm Tri-X, 36
    exposures: all those big stores charge around (US) $3.69 per roll. The
    one local store that has it charges $6.09.

    Adam, Mar 16, 2007
  4. Adam

    Joe Makowiec Guest

    One suggestion I haven't seen yet is to research the Zone System. Even
    if you decide not to use it, you'll get some insight into how people were
    thinking about tonality in the first half of the 20th century.
    Joe Makowiec, Mar 16, 2007
  5. Adam

    pico Guest

    Most excellent. Thanks for that!
    pico, Mar 17, 2007
  6. Adam

    pico Guest

    For Kodak B&W films it means a film base that can be retouched.
    pico, Mar 17, 2007
  7. It also means different exposure/development. For example I have no idea
    if Tri-X and Tri-X Pan Proffessional are different emulsions, but
    but the exposure (ISO 400 vs 320 for proffessional) is different.

    The difference in development may just be compensation for the greater

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Mar 17, 2007
  8. Adam

    Ken Hart Guest

    Mr Erlick (whose knowledge of photography, IMHO, ranks right up with Mr
    Richard K.!) forgot to mention that his high tech record keeping device
    requires no battery or AC adapter. Also, the "Mark I" version of his device,
    which has no button and the point is always exposed will work upside down or
    in zero gravity. The "Mark I" version does require an accessory honing
    device, which may require a power source; manual honing devices are
    Ken Hart, Mar 17, 2007
  9. Adam

    pico Guest

    They are very different. It's just a bit of bad judgment that Kodak
    named them both Tri-X. Look at the stock number. Professional is
    entirely different.
    pico, Mar 18, 2007
  10. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Thanks, Joe! I have a copy of "Zone System Manual" by Minor White (4th
    ed., 1967) but haven't really looked at it seriously yet. In fact, I
    have a small pile of books about photography that I've acquired over the
    years, and keep meaning to read. The most imposing is the textbook for
    the course I'm in ("Photography" by Bruce Warren, 2nd ed.) which is 600

    Adam, Mar 18, 2007
  11. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Thanks, everyone, for all your help with this! Which film am I using?
    It's 35 mm, 36 exposure, the box says "Kodak Professional Tri-X 400
    Film, 400TX Black & White Negative Film" and "ISO 400." Catalog
    number is 866 7073. No "Pan" or "Panchromatic" anywhere. The inside of
    the box that each roll comes in has recommended development times for
    Kodak developers. (I remember years ago when Tri-X came with a sheet
    giving exposures, flash guide numbers, developing details, and more. I
    still have one of those sheets, dated 6-76.)

    Adam, Mar 18, 2007

  12. 400TX is the "consumer" version of Tri-X. It's supposed to be the
    same as the original Tri-X pan, made for many many years. I say supposed
    to be because Kodak closed the plant that made it and sold the eqipment
    to Lucky in China. They moved production over to the same plant that
    makes color film.

    Kodak claims it's exactly the same except for development time, some
    people claim it's exactly the same and has the same devlopment times
    as the old film, some people claim it's a different film with the same

    Since you don't have any history with it, I would assume it's the same
    film for exposure but follow the development guidelines.

    The Pan definition was necessary because Kodak produced two films
    with the same name at one time, for example Verichrome (an orthochromatic
    film) and Verichrome Pan (a panchromatic film with similar exposure
    requirments). Tri-X AFAIK was always a panchromatic film.

    There was a whole line of them Panatomic-X (asa 32, IMHO the best of the
    lot), Plus-X (asa 125, the most versatile), Tri-X (asa 400), Royal-X
    (asa 1200), Super-X (asa 80).

    From what I remember the boxes of my youth said "Tri-X Pan" on them
    and "Tri-X Pan Professional", circa mid 1960s.

    I expect that Kodak stopped providing them because people no longer read
    them. By 1980 most people had cameras with built in meters and developers
    came with their own instructions. Flash instructions were of no use because
    electronic flashes varied too much and bulbs were on their way out.

    Keep it though, it's a reminder of the days when people cared about what
    their camera did.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Mar 18, 2007
  13. Push, don't pull.

    The 40's was a decade with three very distinct periods: Pre-WWII, WWII and
    Post-WWII. Let's try for a 30's look, a 30's drugstore processing look as I
    take it you aren't looking for Weston, Lange or Hurell [or Capa].

    I would try for featureless gray shadows and fogged featureless highlights.
    This example was done in Photoshop and is the look I am talking about:

    The scene:

    The 30's drugstore print:

    You get it with:

    o Underexposed and overdeveloped negatives;
    o Normal contrast paper that is overexposed and
    under developed;
    o Slow film with no grain.

    You _push_ the film.

    That's backwards from the advice you have so far received.
    Here's the logic:

    Pictures were taken with box brownies fixed at F11
    or so and at 1/50th of a second -- "sunny-16" with a safety margin.

    As a result the camera only takes properly exposed pictures on sunny days;
    between the hours of 10am and 4pm [summer time]; and with the sun over the
    photographer's shoulder. Kodak tells people this with every roll of film
    and every camera sold.

    But many pictures are taken on cloudy days, in the
    shade, at sunset... Under these conditions most negatives on a roll are
    severely underexposed.

    Drugstore processing in the 30's was just that: there was a darkroom in the
    back of the drugstore and the druggist or clerk developed pictures in the

    The druggist needs to keep the customer happy and turn a profit. He has to
    work quickly and always produce an acceptable (not good, just acceptable)
    print with normal facial tones.

    And so:

    1) Development by inspection: the whole roll is developed for as long as it
    takes so that just about every negative on the roll has black highlights
    showing through the back of the film - even on the most underexposed shots.
    Since there isn't any exposure control in the camera the varying light
    conditions are accommodated by varying the film development time. And paper
    developer is often used for film to give pictures that extra -oomph-.

    In short, most of the negatives are _pushed_, the rest are just way

    2) Contact printing: Enlargers are expensive in the 30's and take time to
    operate - enlargements' cost extra. But negatives are large, ~3x5" is a
    common negative size so contact prints are good enough. In any case, there
    is no grain in the prints. Drugstore processing is the reason all those
    fancy oak contact printing boxes with 3x5" platens show up on ebay.

    3) Overexposed paper: The negatives aren't looked at before they are printed
    so all prints are made at the same exposure. The printing time is such that
    the facial tones in both pushed and overdeveloped negatives are somewhere on
    the paper's response curve. As a result the paper is overexposed for most
    negatives - the overexposed sunny-16 negatives take a lot of light to print
    through the faces and some highlight detail.

    4) Prints not fully developed: Since the negatives aren't looked at the
    different negative densities are accommodated by developing the prints by
    inspection. To avoid massive deep shadows and high-contrast clown faces on
    the pushed negatives the prints are pulled before development is complete.
    The prints are thrown in the stop when the deepest tone is a dark gray.
    Because the print is overexposed the highlights on most negatives printed
    through and appear gray.

    My advice: Use a slow film, push it, overexpose the print and yank it from
    the developer tray before it is done.

    A bit of lens flare helps, I put some in with Photoshop. Because they are
    contact prints old pictures are often quite sharp and a soft-focus filter
    won't give the same effect. I would sprinkle cornstarch on a filter. Or
    you could always get an old box-brownie and cut down some sheet film for a
    shot-at-a-time camera.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Mar 18, 2007
  14. Adam spake thus:
    These things all change; those are really old figures. The films I
    remember from the Good Old Days (the 1970s) were Pan(atomic)-X at ASA 25
    (I think, or maybe 32?), Plus-X at 125, and Tri-X at 400. Verichrome Pan
    was 125 too (but not available in 35mm, just 120/220).

    Just as McDonald's is where you go when you're hungry but don't really
    care about the quality of your food, Wikipedia is where you go when
    you're curious but don't really care about the quality of your knowledge.

    - Matthew White's WikiWatch (http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/wikiwoo.htm)
    David Nebenzahl, Mar 19, 2007
  15. Geoffrey S. Mendelson spake thus:
    Oh, yeah, now I remember using it (VP) in my trusty Instamatic, so it
    was definitely available in 126 cartridges. All I ever shot in those
    days was 126 and, later, 35mm (and then 4x5).

    All this is quite academic at this point, of course.

    Just as McDonald's is where you go when you're hungry but don't really
    care about the quality of your food, Wikipedia is where you go when
    you're curious but don't really care about the quality of your knowledge.

    - Matthew White's WikiWatch (http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/wikiwoo.htm)
    David Nebenzahl, Mar 19, 2007
  16. Geoffrey S. Mendelson spake thus:
    Yes, I think that can be pretty easily "faked" with filters. (Real ones,
    not digital ones.)

    Anyone know for sure? Hello, Richard?

    Just as McDonald's is where you go when you're hungry but don't really
    care about the quality of your food, Wikipedia is where you go when
    you're curious but don't really care about the quality of your knowledge.

    - Matthew White's WikiWatch (http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/wikiwoo.htm)
    David Nebenzahl, Mar 19, 2007
  17. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Hmmm. The Tri-X I bought from B&H in January says "Made in USA,
    finished in Mexico for Eastman Kodak Company."
    The 1951-52 edition of CRC's "Handbook of Chemistry and Physics" lists,
    under "Eastman, 35mm", Panatomic X (ASA 25), Plus X (ASA 50), Super XX
    (ASA 100), Direct Positive Pan (ASA 64 -- reversal film?), and
    Kodachrome Daylight and Type A (Tungsten). Tri X Pan, Verichrome,
    Kodacolor and Ektachrome are listed under other formats, but not under 35mm.

    Adam, Mar 19, 2007
  18. Adam

    Adam Guest

    Thanks very much for posting those! That's pretty much the "look" I had
    in mind. Maybe the "secret" is digital photo enhancement.

    Adam, Mar 19, 2007
  19. Nope, the secret is to make a real balls-up of the whole
    process: taking the picture, developing the film and making
    the print. If you do each one of those _wrong_ that is
    the look you will get.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Mar 19, 2007
  20. Adam

    Adam Guest

    That sounds too easy to be a valid photographic technique! Maybe I
    should try printing some of my severely underexposed/overexposed
    negatives to see what I get.

    Adam, Mar 19, 2007
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