If you need a fun film photography experiment to try out this week/weekend, how about giving black-and-white film reversal a shot? The folks at Branco Ottico decided to give this process a shot—turning multiple black-and-white negatives into rich, direct positive transparencies... just because.

Branco Ottico's Davide Rossi detailed the whole process in a dual-language blog post and the video above. But if your first question is less "how" and more "why," he covers that as well:

Why reverse a black and white film to get a positive one?

Because it is the way to create a direct positve original by the extraordinary richness of detail, because it is unique and made alive by light, because you can make a backlight reveal the shape of an object.

It’s really a very detailed photograph, with fascinating nuances and deep densities, they take your eyes wondering marvelous.

Rossi promises that these direct positive transparencies look "alive" in a way that an inverted scan on a computer screen simply can't. "This is what I see when I shed my eyes in front of a slide created by a big 20x25cm camera," he writes. "Faces that live their own light with such a detailed skin roughness to make you smile because it does not even look alive with the your own eyes."

Rossi was kind enough to share some behind the scenes and final images with us. Check them out for yourself in the galleries below:

Mind you, the process is no walk in the park. Even if you purchase a dedicated black-and-white film reversal kit online, each different film requires a different approach—then again, isn't that what makes this an experiment worthy of the name?

For Rossi, it took 4 days of trial and error to figure out an easy-to-reproduce three-step process that he will soon publish as a followup to this video.

If you want to give the experiment a shot for yourself, check out the video and blog post for yourself, stock your homebrew darkroom, and give it a go this weekend. If you want a bit more guidance, keep an eye on the Branco Ottico site for a detailed breakdown of Rossi's three-step process.


All photos by Davide Rossi/Branco Ottico and used with permission.