Many of the chromogenic (C41) process black and white films get mixed reactions on the web from working photographers, but my recent and continuing exploration of Kodak BW400CN has changed everything in my mind and in a very good way. To listen to the audio portion just click on the audioblog logo.
Test Image: Kodak BW400CN exposed at box speed (400) and scanned on an Imacon Scanner. Minor contrast and density adjustment were applied in Photoshop CS3. Negative was made using a Leica M7 with a 28MM Elmarit F2.8 ASPH lens. Please note the file is larger than most here on FR so you can really see the stunning tonal range and detail. One additional note on the weather here in Vemont… it has been raining a lot and as such this image was made on an overcast day, thus the gray sky.
If you’re like me you’re always on the lookout for a great black and white film/ developer combo for scanning. I’ve tried many different films and developers and then recently stumbled upon the great marriage of Diafine and TX (Kodak Tri-x)…my new standard. Watch the videos below to learn more about this dynamic combination and for tips on proper processing techniques as well as a few quick tips on scanning black and white negatives. Be sure to also check out my sample pictures under the videos to see just how good it is. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
Please note that due to YouTube 10 minute video limit I had to break this 12 minute discussion into two parts. (Be sure to watch both videos!)
This image illustrates the huge dynamic range possible with TX and Diafine. In this example TX was rated at 1600, 35mm. (Check out that shadow detail!)
This example is TX at 1600 in low flat lighting…the full print size is 16″x24″ and the crop is a 4″x6″ section out of the full image area. Film size: 35mm
This example and the close up represent TX at 1600. The final image size (print) is 16″x24″ and the crop represents a 3″x3″ area of the final image at full size. Remember…this is TX at 1600 in 35mm!!
Processing Information for Tested Films:
Fuji Acros 100 EI 200 70-75 5+5 (Best choice for really big enlargements and where an EI of 200 is ok.)
FP4 EI 200-250 70-75 3+3 (Very nice but I prefer PMK for FP4).
TMY-2 EI 500-640 70-75 3+3 (Very nice combo but I’d stick with Xtol or D76 1:1…see my review of this film here on the Figital Revolution.)
TX EI 1250-1600 70-75 3+3 (My personal favorite and my new everyday film. I also keep an ND filter with me (.9) for the bright afternoon light and just remove it as the day ends so I can shoot this film all day long on my M7 with no worries!)
All chemicals are mixed with distilled water. Processing is done by hand with stainless steel tanks and reels.
I will be posting Part 2 in a few days which will cover my scanning techniques (specific and general) as well as basic file handling. Part 3 (next week) will focus on the final print and have a demo (yes another video) on hand coating your own paper for inkjet. Stay Tuned!!
For a quick audioblog on my printing techniques and my thoughts on tonality just click on this link: A Fear of Gray
Just in case you haven’t heard…that wonderful instant Polaroid material you’ve used for years is about to be no more! That’s right: Polaroid has announced that it will stop production of its instant materials at the end of this year. There have been rumors that Fuji and Ilford may be interested in the technology but to date nothing has, er, developed. Here is a link to a great interview from NPR on Polaroid and reflections by several artists who use this material for the artworks including Chuck Close. (Just click on the AUDIO logo.)
Having worked with Polaroid materials for several of my own artwork projects from my Through A Glass Darkly series and Book, The Haiku Series, The Sakura Porfolio and my Encaustic Cycle as well as also being collected in the Polaroid Permanent Collections as one of their featured artists I find this news of a once-great icon in photography closing shop very, very disturbing for the future of our creative medium.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
– Abraham Lincoln
This is a key underlying concept of the Figital Revolution…if we as photogrpahers band together and speak out about what we want in our industry, the industry will be compelled to listen! So over the next few months I will be conducting brief surveys (3 yes or no questions each) on what the photographic community really wants. So click on the survey link and and make your voice heard! I will post the results on The Figital Revolution and also use this information in meetings with industry (aka The Photo Industrial Complex) to illustrate what Real Photographers- that’s you- want! Please note you must enter your email address at the end of the survey to keep voting honest… please only VOTE once… it’s how Lincoln would have wanted it.
Via La Revolution – Stephen Schaub
Please note that by completing this survey your email address will NOT be shared and you will NOT be added to any email mailing list. If you would to receive our online newsletter just click here to subscribe as it is FREE!
As promised here is a sample image (my wife Eve Ogden Schaub of Life=Art) in Puerto Rico pushing the new TMY-2 (Tmax 400) to an E.I. of 1600 and processed in Xtol Straight using Kodak’s suggested time/ temp . The light was very, very low as even at an E.I. of 1600 my exposure was still 1/8 at F1.4 (hand-held.) The image was made with a Leica M7 with a 50mm Summilux.
So what are my thoughts????
Please note: click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
1. Of course there is more grain than the 400 speed test I posted a few days ago (click here) but not a lot considering this is a 2 stop push! It is not as crisp and lacks some fine image detail as the other test image had due to the increased grain and I am sure the slow shutter speed and the f1.4 working f stop ( I do the best I can, but on 10 shots of espresso a day what do you expect?)
2. Good shadow detail and the highlights still have nice separation especially considering the light source.
3. Easy to scan- no problems with excessive contrast or anything…the scan was as easy as my last test scan. (Scanned on an Imacon Scanner at 3200 dpi, 16 Bit, wet mount, no sharpening.)
So what does this mean??? Where do we (I) go from here?
Well I for one will shoot this film as my NEW primary film at box speed (400) – but it is nice to know that in a pinch I can push this film to meet my needs no matter what they are… I am going to continue my exploration of different developers (stay tuned!!) for this film, but for now- Xtol works fine. Once again in my opinion – Kudos to Kodak! (It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to say that twice in one week!)