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Ye olde time black and white...from around iconindustries home.

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by Iconindustries, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Recently I bought an old book called 'The Great Inventions'. The author has done a remarkable job of collecting photos and drawings to illustrate what is being described. As it is an old book and the inventions he is writing about are even older, the majority of the images are black and white. What struck me about the black and white is that it is so different to what i've used to seeing. More life, more real, more nostalgic. Determined to find the difference, I studied a portrait in the book of Samuel Finley Breese Morse the great pioneer of the telegraph. Circa 1830's
    He is standing with his arm resting on the back of a chair. He is wearing a long jacket or coat. This is very black. The outer edges of the image are dark, more so towards the corners. Vignetting I assume, and back in those days it was probably unintentional. His face and hair is extremely white. There is a white glow behind him which is intensified by the heavy vignetting. The white part is the defining signature of the old time B&W images. It is very white, way over exposed white. And being complimented by the very dark blacks, it gives the image more punch.
    I went out and took a few images with my GF1 and 20mm and converted one to black and white in Aperture. It wasn't black and white at all, more like black and grey. (I discovered black and white in Aperture is pretty lame) With the old portrait of Samuel beside me I fiddled around in Aperture until I came to a closer resemblance to the picture beside me. I got it pretty close. The only thing I would really love to add is flicks and specks to create the aged
    look.

    Here are the images I took and processed with 'ye olde time look'

    Constructive Criticism welcomed.

    All with GF1 and 20mm

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602683992/" title="The entrance to our house by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="651" alt="The entrance to our house"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602100047/" title="The latch on the front entrance gate by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="651" alt="The latch on the front entrance gate"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602111597/" title="Garden ornament by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="651" alt="Garden ornament"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602101993/" title="Collection of old items by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="651" alt="Collection of old items"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602101151/" title="Our Southern Cross Windmill by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="752" alt="Our Southern Cross Windmill"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5602103437/" title="A brass wheel I found at the dump by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="651" alt="A brass wheel I found at the dump"></a>
     
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  2. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Really nice post Brady, and as per usual, great narrative to go along!

    Have you tried the SilverEFX plug in from NIK software that Ray, Don, etc all swear by? They have a 15 day free trial

    It will, in fact, give you the image settings you describe. It works as a plug in, much like borderFX (I think you're using that yes?) Just head to the "photo menu" then select edit in SilverEFX instead of borderFX.

    I think you'll be pleasantly surprised..

    Cheers, Alan
     
  3. sphexx

    sphexx Mu-43 Regular

    54
    Feb 19, 2010
    Harrogate, Yorkshire
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  4. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    I googled a bit but couldn't find an image matching your description; so I'm left with speculations only, but from the timeframe, I'd say there's a high chance the original was not a paper based b&w picture but a metal based daguerréotype - what you see would be typically the product of reproduction techniques using orthochromatic chemistry to duplicate that single original. Therefore, some degradation of the tonal range is to be expected.

    In fact, early b&w were not necessarily highly contrasted, and very soon some process could produce b&w gradations you'd be hard pressed to match even today (charcoal process from Fresson method for instance).

    Then again, vignetting was not necessarily due to faulty optics. Many portraits were intentionally framed by a vignette, and one of the first professional photographer to drop that technique in large format portraits was Izis at the end of WWII, creating a new school of realistic photography with his portraits of free french soldiers (Izis - Quelques grains - mid page).

    Cheers,
     
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  5. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Brady,
    FWIW I feel that the old wagon wheel has worked the best, the old cast iron wheel the least best, it would seem to have the lowest amount of contrast and is the "greyist" of the images, but hey that's just my opinion and I often seem to be out of step with our more artistic members, I tend to record what I see in a literal manner, and not an artistic one.
    People used to spend hours in the darkroom trying to get rid of the "flicks and specks" as you put it, and now you want to put them back :rolleyes:

    Barrie
     
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  6. Great series, Brady. You've certainly got some excellent subject material for this style of processing. I always find it difficult to get the degree of overexposure right for this type of effect but I think your shot of the old wheel in particular nails it.
     
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  7. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    repeat post but "on topic"

    I posted this in flowers...sorry to post it twice, but I feel it's apropos

    Would this be close Brady?


    Floral_Tin_Type.
     
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  8. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Awfully nice. Tulips are always really photogenic.

    Cheers,
     
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  9. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hi Mauve,

    I was just trying to use your method of illustrating the point. (Which is awesome by the way) I wondered if I was close to his idea of vignetting the edges, brightness centered...

    Did you find his reference material?
     
  10. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I used to have Silver Effex when I had LR and have the trial version plugin for Aperture. It has since run out of trial time but I never found anything that really stood out for me. Maybe I didn't tinker around enough with it.

    Thanks for the Links Richard. I'll have a look.

    Mauve, you're a fountain of knowledge! Thanks for chipping in.
    A daguerréotype! I continued reading last night in the very same book and came upon a whole chapter dedicated to photography. And Mr Daguerre started his experiments around the 1830's so it's possible the image of Samuel Morse is one of those. Mr Daguerre appears to be strange character and his fast talking and persuasive manner enabled him to collect alot of information from a man called Nicephore Niepce, who in fact knew more than Daguerre. Niepce is in fact the one accredited to making the worlds first photograph on pewter plate and Bitumen of Judea. The worlds first image had an 8 hour exposure!


    The interesting thing is that most of the other B&W photos in the book have a very high white exposure look.

    Thanks Barrie for your thoughts. I guess the brass wheel is the odd one out. To keep it in line with the others the exposure should be increased a little.
    And yeah, about the flicks. I looked everywhere to find how to add a small amount of 'grain' in the image but to no avail.

    Cheers mate. I admire your B&W street photos alot.

    Alan it's close but I'd probably like a bit more exposure so the white is actually white rather than a greyish cream. But everyone has their own taste.
    Nice picture by the way.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5604631211/" title="Floral_Tin_Type (1) by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="959" alt="Floral_Tin_Type (1)"></a>
     
  11. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I took a photo of the image of Samuel Morse i was describing at the beginning. Sorry about the crop.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5605188752/" title="P1090390 - Version 2 by iconindustries, on Flickr">"426" height="640" alt="P1090390 - Version 2"></a>


    Another further on in 1901 of Marconi seated near his device used to receive transatlantic signals.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5604604311/" title="P1090392 - Version 2 by iconindustries, on Flickr">"640" height="359" alt="P1090392 - Version 2"></a>

    See how the whites are so white. And these 2 images are ~70 years apart.
     
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  12. WJW59

    WJW59 Mu-43 Veteran

    235
    Feb 20, 2011
    After looking at the Morse photo, I would guess it was taken in late 1850's, so the "film" used would have been sensitive to blue and UV light. Orthochromatic (blue & green) came around 1880 and Panchromatic (all wavelengths) was introduced around 1905 and took over around 1925. And many of these older films had a very definite toe and shoulder to their characteristic curves. Current Kodak B&W films tend to have a short toe and little or no shoulder. Digital doesn't have a curve as it is a linear system.

    Film Contrast Characteristics

    The two attached images are different conversions (in Aperture 3) of the same image. The original image was in color, 14-42 MK II @14mm, f3.5 @1/20. The only processing is what I list below and some minor straightening.

    The first was quick & dirty: I used the B&W Grade 2 preset

    The second was a bit more:B&W adjustment Red=0, Green=20, Blue=80
    I then added a Curves adjustment, set thee points (high, middle, low) and pulled the low point down 1/3 and the high up 1/3 to get a bit of toe & shoulder.

    The second would more closely copy the response of old film. The vignetteing was either added during the processing/printing or from light fall-off with the simple lenses. BTW, the lenses could be much simpler since they were only focusing blue light.
     

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  13. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Brady, perhaps I misunderstood you and your phrase "flicks and specks". Grain is an inherent characteristic of a film, faster films tending to be more grainy. It wouldn't surprise me if there was some software out there that replicated that. I thought you were trying to replicate the effects of the inevitable dust that was picked up by the negative or the print during the various processes that were gone through in developing and printing, these would result in various spots on the finished print that were detested by film photographers who might spend some time "spotting" a print to cover them up.

    Barrie
     
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  14. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    WJW59, thankyou for taking the time to write this and show the example images. The look in the 2nd image is exactly the B&W look I love. I'll use the tips you gave and have a try.

    I'm a still a little vague on what toe and shoulder means. Is this linked with the tone curves you mentioned?
     
  15. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well actually Barrie, the flicks and specks i was meaning is haze, tiny dots and dust. When I searched on google with 'how to add flicks and specks in Aperture' there was no such term and it brought up results in 'how to remove noise and unwanted spots in Aperture'. A term bandied around was 'grain' so I wrongly assumed that it was something to do with the search of 'flicks and specks'. I'm loving this photography stuff- there is so much to learn. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Brady
     
  16. There's an iphone app that I first saw on BrianK's flickr account called camera matic that seems to be able to produce the effect of dust specks. Red 002 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    You'd think if it can be done on an iphone that there should be some kind of plug-in available.
     
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  17. WJW59

    WJW59 Mu-43 Veteran

    235
    Feb 20, 2011
  18. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I think I'm slowly achieving the really old grainy look.

    Old Railway Grain Silo's

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5703210162/" title="Old Railway Grain Silo's by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="Old Railway Grain Silo's"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5703219468/" title="Old Railway Grain Silo's by iconindustries, on Flickr">"1024" height="1024" alt="Old Railway Grain Silo's"></a>
     
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  19. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Those are nice Brady
     
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  20. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    You're close ! Looks a bit like the classic Kodak TMax P3200 exposed @800 iso.

    But it's been a long time since photographers knew how to make square frames in the lab. Your fancy borders are a bit overdone to my taste.

    Cheers,
     
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