Should black and white pictures be black and white?

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by Derek Fountain, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. Now, here's a daft sounding question. :eek:)

    I've got an old photo from the 50's that I need to restore. It's a bit
    faded and has several orange-ish blotches, but this is basically a dust
    and scratches job.

    The thing is, the photo has a slight discolouration. My instinctive
    reaction was, well, this was taken as a black and white shot, so any
    colour in there must be discolouration. But moving the saturation slider
    right down to zero makes the photo look a bit flat. There's something
    not right, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.

    So, my first question is, are black and white photos by definition all
    shades of grey, or do they actually have a hint of colour in them?
    Derek Fountain, Dec 18, 2005
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  2. Go here and check out the current challenge

    It's a color photo where almost all the dyes are faded out. There is
    something called split toning where different values are toned with
    different chemicals. This usually makes a photograph lasts longer...and
    yours isn't so old really.
    Gene Palmiter, Dec 18, 2005
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  3. Derek Fountain

    Lorem Ipsum Guest

    It is possibly discoloration due to a rushed printing job (not thoroughly
    washed, or possibly fixed). It could also be intentional toning. If it's a
    little snapshot, it's probably the former.

    You might enjoy the outcome if you convert it to monochrome, then play with
    mode-duotone or mode-tritones.
    Lorem Ipsum, Dec 18, 2005
  4. Derek Fountain

    tacit Guest

    Probably contrast, which you can adjust by Image->Adjust->Curves. (Avoid
    Image->Adjust->Brightness/Contrast; it degrades the quality of the image
    by clipping hilight and shadow detail.)
    A neutral-tone black and white photograph is shades of gray, and has no
    color in it.
    tacit, Dec 19, 2005
  5. Derek Fountain

    Lorem Ipsum Guest

    As usual, tacit is correct - but some old B&W photos are stained due to
    negligence during processing. This is important - if you have stained B&W,
    do not change the mode to 'monochrome' until you think you are done because
    you can use curves to match them to the gray tone they should be.
    Desaturating alone won't always do the trick.

    If we are lucky, the Curvemeister will chime in here with specific help.

    (sorry for nit-picking tacit)
    Lorem Ipsum, Dec 20, 2005
  6. Derek Fountain

    Clyde Guest

    Except when you tone the B&W print. In the old days, I toned most of my
    B&W prints. This was to help preserve the print. (I thought I was making
    art that needed to last for at least a century. <ha>)

    I can't remember any toners that didn't leave some color to the B&W
    print. They would often improve the richness of the print. So it was
    part of the process to enhance the picture.

    I guess I did so much of that during the wet years that I've continued
    into the Photoshop darkroom. I still "tone" all my B&W prints by making
    them duotones. This looks good to me and it improves the picture. Well,
    it uses the color inks to make a smoother print.

    Clyde, Dec 20, 2005
  7. Derek Fountain

    Lorem Ipsum Guest

    Hold on, Partner. We ain't dead yet. We still tone images the 'old' way.
    Lorem Ipsum, Dec 20, 2005
  8. I read something recently...maybe at luminous landscape...that indicated
    that my printer, don't know about others, the Epson 2200, uses all the inks
    even when printing a BW image. This gives better tones, but can leave a
    cast. So, I duotone so I can control the cast should I prefer a warm tone or
    a cold one.

    Note that in the prehistoric days of wet processes not all toning gave as
    strong an effect as sepia. I have used selium and gold, both of which are
    cold and rich..but not strong.
    Gene Palmiter, Dec 21, 2005
  9. Derek Fountain

    Clyde Guest

    Ah, you are getting rarer and rarer. I dumped all my "wet" stuff on eBay
    about 3 years ago. I was using Photoshop for many years before that and
    finally made the move. I have not regretted it for a minute.

    There always will be someone doing "wet" photography. In the history of
    art, no new media has eliminated any old media. Of course, the old media
    may not have much of a market; hence Kodak's ending of B&W paper

    There will always be companies like "Photographer's Formulary" that will
    have the stuff you need to do the old, out-of-market processes. It may
    cost you to buy supplies in such a small market, but the dedicated nut
    won't mind.

    New technology might even help the old. I never shot bigger than a 4x5
    camera. That doesn't make very big platinum prints. I've been tempted to
    get a platinum kit and frame and make some platinum prints from digital
    negatives. That is something that I really couldn't do before.

    Clyde, Dec 21, 2005
  10. Derek Fountain

    Skinner1 Guest

    Ya. Converting to Monotone and touching up might be the only way to
    Skinner1, Dec 28, 2005
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