Question on Getting the Classic B&W Look Seen in White House Pictures from the 1960s

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by esb100, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. esb100

    esb100 Guest

    I have a Minolta SRT-101 and XE-7. I like shooting B&W sometimes; the
    indoor B&W look I love is that seen in the 1960s shots of White House
    meetings featuring Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon looking
    serious, consulting with their assistants. These photos are sometimes
    featured on TV documentaries concerning these Presidents or the 1960s.
    Indeed, the look is so classic that even when used in photos of the
    current President Bush holding meetings in the White House, the shots
    look like they were taken in the 50s and 60s. Recognizing I'm being
    very general about the look, does anyone have clues on appropriate
    film speed and brand, lighting (all natural, I assume), aperture and
    shutter settings to attempt to replicate the look with the manual
    focus, film cameras I've identified above?

    Thank you.
     
    esb100, Oct 22, 2007
    #1
    1. Advertisements

  2. It might surprise you to discover that until quite recently, "black &
    white" prints were not black or white. The papers used in the 50's and
    60's were off white and got even further off white as they aged.
    "Fibre (Fiber) based" is a description often used for them.

    The paper coatings used in that era were not a polymer like those used
    today either, and didn't produce a true black. "Silver gelatin" is
    often used in their description. Traditional papers are hard to use
    with modern chemicals. What might be a better solution would be to
    scan your negatives and use a computer program like "Photo Retouche"
    to produce the traditional and aged look for printing on a colour
    inkjet printer using Moabe's antique papers which look very much like
    paper from the 50's and earlier.

    I do a lot of restoration work and find the only way to duplicate the
    look of original photos is to make them as de-saturated colour prints
    with a colour cast of the desired tone. I use an Epson R2400 printer
    exclusively for this work.

    As for the taking of the pictures in the first place? Panchromatic
    film, processed for low contrast may do the trick. I've long held the
    belief you should do any contrast adjustments with paper grades, not
    photographic techniques. This way you keep shadow and highlight
    detail.

    Newspaper photographers of the era often push processed their films
    and universally used grade 3 paper, resulting in little or no shadow
    detail and high key in the highlights... Quite the opposite to what
    the paper's printer's needed!

    I hope this helps.

    Doug,
    Brisbane Australia
    http://weddingsNportraits.com.au
     
    http://www.annika1980.com... Exploits of a cyber b, Oct 22, 2007
    #2
    1. Advertisements

  3. I admire Stanley Tretick's work with JFK. His work is legendary
    photojournalism. Judging from the pics I've seen of his work, I would
    think he used both mediums: 35mm and medium format. I would say most
    of his work was available lighting, judging from the poses facing the
    window and the contrast of the pics. I'm not sure of the film, but it
    would be a good guess that one of the films he used was Kodak Tri-X
    Pan. You can pretty well tell the ISO of the film by viewing one of
    the images enlarged. Is there a lot of grain? The more grain the
    higher the ISO. When shooting next to a window like that you need to
    take a reading of the subjects up close with a meter. That would be
    your best judge of proper shutter speed and aperture. And of course
    bracket.....(using different shutter speeds and apertures). Trial
    and error, that's how we learn. Good Luck!
    Helen
     
    helensilverburg, Oct 22, 2007
    #3

  4. I admire Stanley Tretick's work with JFK. His work is legendary
    photojournalism. Judging from the pics I've seen of his work, I would
    think he used both mediums: 35mm and medium format. I would say most
    of his work was available lighting, judging from the poses facing the
    window and the contrast of the pics. I'm not sure of the film, but it
    would be a good guess that one of the films he used was Kodak Tri-X
    Pan. You can pretty well tell the ISO of the film by viewing one of
    the images enlarged. Is there a lot of grain? The more grain the
    higher the ISO. When shooting next to a window like that you need to
    take a reading of the subjects up close with a meter. That would be
    your best judge of proper shutter speed and aperture. And of course
    bracket. Trial and error, that's how we learn. Good Luck!
    Helen
     
    helensilverburg, Oct 22, 2007
    #4
  5. esb100

    UC Guest

    Poorly pricessed and printed Tri-X Pan. Why would you ask about that
    kind of shit? A lot of that work was horribly exposed, processed, and
    printed.
     
    UC, Oct 23, 2007
    #5
  6. esb100

    BobF Guest

    I have the book "Life in Camelot", which is about the Life photographers history
    of taking pictures of the Kennedy's...

    Unfortunately it doesn't mention film or cameras, but if you can find
    information on 60s press cameras, you'll have your answers.

    It seems there are 2 kinds of pictures here, one is very high contrast, almost
    no detail, and the other is very grainy, both suggest that they were 'pushed'
    somehow to get the picture, not under the best conditions.

    Remember that press photos were meant to be half-toned and printed by a one
    color press.

    I bet your equipment of today is too good!
     
    BobF, Oct 23, 2007
    #6
  7. I have the book "Life in Camelot", which is about the Life photographers
    history
    This is typical....When non-artists write about the arts, they never seen to
    write anything about the equipment the artist uses. People who write about
    musicians do the same thing....As a trumpet player, I am interested in the
    horns that my favorite players use....I have read whole books about famous
    trumpeters, and never once has their equipment been mentioned! For some
    reason, it never occurs to the author that the people who read such books
    might be interested in the equipment the famous person uses, and why they
    use that particular brand, style, etc.....
     
    William Graham, Oct 23, 2007
    #7
  8. esb100

    Pudentame Guest

    Get thee hence to eBay to pick up a Nikon F and some Tri-X. Rate it at
    ISO 320.

    Almost all of the shots you're thinking of were shot with flash bulbs
    (or early strobes) balanced with the ambient light.

    The best current source on that sort of thing is at The Strobist.

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101-balancing-flash-and.html

    You also might look for some of the old Time-Life Photography Library
    books. Try to find the one titled Photojournalism. It's not much on
    "how-to" technique, but a lot on the philosophy behind photojournalism.

    You can probably find vintage how-to books in any local second-hand book
    store.
     
    Pudentame, Oct 23, 2007
    #8
  9. esb100

    hickster11 Guest

    I think if want that specific "look", then you have to make up your own
    specs. Maybe start w/ Tri-X or HP-5 @ 800, and develop w/ D-76 1:1 about 2
    mins extra . Then test: read a skin tone w/ the SRT @ 800 @ 1/60. If it
    says f8, then write it down, and bracket F 4, 5.6, 8, 11. Then develop just
    those. Do that with a different shutter speed.until you have four tests
    developed. One strip is just bound to be close. The hard part is taking
    useful notes. Times can be found on "The Massive Development Chart".
    Bob Hickey
     
    hickster11, Oct 23, 2007
    #9
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.