Saturday, 8 November 2008

Black and white film: a workflow

Zoo Station, Berlin, October 2008
Delta 400 @ EI800

Now I've been shooting black and white film for a while, I think I've got a smooth workflow down. I thought some might be interested in me sharing. Starting at exposure, I'll run through the process to print.

I tend to under-expose all my black and white film, for various reasons. HP5+ @ 800 (as much as 1600 in very low light), FP4+ at anything from 125 to 200. Delta 400 @ 800 indoors. Key reason for me doing this comes from the development and scanning routine.

Development is all commercial, through my local camera store (who send it off to Fuji's Pro lab). I don't know what chemicals they use, but at least the results are consistent. No pushing or pulling, just straight-up. I've no mind whatsoever to start my own darkroom work.

Scanning is done in bulk on the entire roll. As I'm using an Epson V750 flatbed, this is more efficient in my time. Always on a 2-pass scan, which yields a slightly finer grain output. Always scanned as positive with software inversion.

I've got a development profile for this in Lightroom now, which speeds things up tremendously. I also do rotation and initial cropping in Lightroom (used to be in Lightzone). Inverted images exported to 16 bit TIFFs as a batch. I only invert the ones I'm going to work up further - this is the first screening point.

Final adjustments depend slightly on image and subject. I've got a couple of profiles for Lightroom for quick conversions, especially to web. For anything decent, it's off to Lightzone for a couple of layers of Zonemapping or Photoshop.
Typically the adjustments are for final white and black point setting, shadow depth (my inversion routine means the shadows start open and I burn them in) and mid-tone contrast. Sometimes I run a light noise reduction with Neat Image, normally to tone-down graininess in areas of uniform tone, like expansive skies or large shadow blocks. Hiraloam and output sharpening to close.

I'm now printing through Lightroom because I really like the way their print manager works, plus it means I don't need a specific print version of the file, that I find I always need with other software.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I like comments, especially constructive ones.
Comments get emailed directly to me before publishing , so if you want to get in touch drop a comment.
All comments moderated by me before being published, keeps the spam at bay.