B&W now

Started Dec 14, 2011 | Discussions
selwynbr
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B&W now
Dec 14, 2011

I'm wondering why the imitation of the old b&w film days is mimicked so much. The cameras of today are pretty much noise free, & with software, you are able to eliminate almost all noise & grain. So why would you add these elements, especially in post-processing. Surely b&w should be evolving, & not regressing to the days of inferior equipment. I'm the first to admire the old masters, & to learn from them, but to use the tools of today.

TClair
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Re: B&W now
In reply to selwynbr, Dec 14, 2011

I'm not sure that B&W images are better clean. I do my images both ways and pick the one I like best and at least 50% of the time I like the one with film grain. Maybe it is because I grew up seeing images that way? For me B&W is a rawer image that evokes more emotion and some of that feeling is expressed in the grain pattern. Does that make any sense?

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granitespider
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Re: B&W now
In reply to TClair, Dec 15, 2011

I think if the print darkroom was as easy and accessable as the digital one there would be more film users still. Says something about the effect old photos taken with more simple camera bodies have when we're still emulating the look with our much more sophisticated digital bodies and software. The first time I saw lith prints I was amazed and I think that if I had a darkroom I'd sell the digital stuff and explore it more.

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AlbertoGarcia
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Re: B&W now
In reply to granitespider, Dec 15, 2011

Well,

that's an interesting question. I agree, this is a current main trend in black and white PP. However, let's wait a few years - like everything, this will be just forgotten and recalled cyclically.

More interesting will be the use young people will do of B&W, if any. People who was born in digital age, used to play with pocket consoles and the iPhone... Everything has been in color for them - from clothes to toys to pictures and TV. They don't have a real reference. Aesthetics may still play a role, here...

Me, personally (at age 39), I try to get the grain effect that I used to see while developing at home when I was a teenager. Direct grain vision with optical enlargement tools (for focusing...) lead me to see the chemical process as art creation - in the very grain textures themselves.

But, coming back to new generations, I seldom try to create (for example) cyanotype or ferrotype effects - way before my age. Only sepia seems to withstand time...
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Jim Radcliffe
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Re: B&W now
In reply to AlbertoGarcia, Dec 15, 2011

AlbertoGarcia wrote:

Me, personally (at age 39), I try to get the grain effect that I used to see while developing at home when I was a teenager. Direct grain vision with optical enlargement tools (for focusing...) lead me to see the chemical process as art creation - in the very grain textures themselves.

Alberto, I often wonder why fans of B&W add grain to their photos.. is it because it is what they were used to back in the film days? I had a full blown wet darkroom back in the day and I hated grain. I used the focusing tools as well. I shot Panatomic X to try and get away from the grain. Can't say I miss a thing about grain and doubt that I will ever add grain to a photo just to make it look like a film shot from yesteryear.

When we look at a scene we do not see in B&W and of course we never "see" grain with our god given Mark I eyeballs.. it's a mystery to me why grain is added other than to duplicate film in some way or to add some artistic notion.

I am willing to live and let live.. if you like grain.. more power to you. I'll never tell anyone it is wrong but I will say I don't really understand why one would do such a thing other than for the reasons I have mentioned above.

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AlbertoGarcia
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Re: B&W now
In reply to Jim Radcliffe, Dec 16, 2011

Jim,

don't get me wrong - I am not applying grain as standard for ALL photos. Grain has its position when trying to get that old look and atmosphere.

I also agree with you. Some pictures (specially detailed ones, landscapes...) may look much better with no grain at all...

Fortunately, this IS art. You may like it or not. You may see it as needed or not. Some will consider it important if THE PUBLIC is requesting this or not. This was the intention of my comments - most likely, newcomers will all think like you, there is no REAL need for grain.

So grain will remain as a curiosity or old-fashion technique (even old fashion drawback, to be avoided...). And this is important for professional photographers, targetting to sell or exhibit their work - not me.
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Jim Radcliffe
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Re: B&W now
In reply to AlbertoGarcia, Dec 16, 2011

AlbertoGarcia wrote:

Jim,

don't get me wrong - I am not applying grain as standard for ALL photos. Grain has its position when trying to get that old look and atmosphere.

I also agree with you. Some pictures (specially detailed ones, landscapes...) may look much better with no grain at all...

Fortunately, this IS art. You may like it or not. You may see it as needed or not. Some will consider it important if THE PUBLIC is requesting this or not. This was the intention of my comments - most likely, newcomers will all think like you, there is no REAL need for grain.

So grain will remain as a curiosity or old-fashion technique (even old fashion drawback, to be avoided...). And this is important for professional photographers, targetting to sell or exhibit their work - not me.

Understood... if grain = art in the photographer's mind or vision, that's their choice and who has the right to say it is wrong. I'm just saying that 99% of the time that I find grain to be annoying and distracting in a photograph and I doubt that I will ever add grain to simulate the look of film. If I wanted that look, I would be shooting film in the first place.

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Charles Pike
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Re: B&W now using Nik software
In reply to Jim Radcliffe, Dec 23, 2011

I loved using Panatomic X but it had an ASA of what 32? I wanted the sharpest film I could find, and shot with it, but as I began to shoot more action I went to Tri-X at 400. I shot for a weekly and when they told us that we could no longer shot with a flash unit at the high school I started shooting with a 3,200 ASA film. Talk about grain, it looked like a snow ball fight going on. Now that I am using the Nik software, I have found my old friend Panatomic again. Use my tif files and run them though the software, and have these fine (no ) grain images. I have just started doing this and I love the speed in which you can convert an image.

I have started scanning old negatives, and I can scan maybe 500 in a day, and a lot of it looks really bad. Still these are files that go back 45+ years, and it has taken me back like a time machine.

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