how to attain deep blacks

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ian_babcock, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Many of the responses to your question have assumed you were post processing the negatives in a wet darkroom, but you are post processing them digitally so the method to control tonal range is different. It sounds like you just need to use Curves or Levels in your post processing program to clip the black end of your image's histogram. Some people prefer to apply controls during the scan itself but I prefer to get a 'flat' scan in a tiff file to preserve all the information in the negative and then manipulate. Of course you need a properly exposed negative to begin with, but through the magic of sliders you can always get fully saturated blacks from any negative.
  2. The OP said: ". I am scanning all my negatives, no printing at this point." I have been scanning my negatives that go back to the 60's. I find that using a good software scanning program such as Hamrick's Viewscan gives the most power and flexibility in getting the most out of your negatives, even those ranging from flat to contrasty. Viewscan allows adjustment for negative variations. I scan for maximum detail in both shadows and highlights, which gives a somewhat "flat" scan to start with. In post processing in PS adjustments can be made to deepen the shadows if need be, or increase contrast. Just check out my folders to see the results. I see I am saying the same thing as kurt, who posted above me.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  3. I recently moved to digital from darkroom, scanning my 5x7 negetives. The key to black for me are the inks in the printer you use. I have an Epson 3880. Epson inks are good, but I found in a switch from epson inks to Conecolor Pro, I am getting extreme blacks. With Epson PK using a step wedge on Canson Bartya I get luminance of 6-8 while using ConeProColor I get 2-4. The Epson Bartya is suppose to go even darker. The effect on my prints are amazing. I never thought I would embrace inkjet in lieu of the darkroom, but the inkjet results are so much better. My darkroom prints look warm and rather dull by comparison. The Conecolor ink prints using epson ABW setting are luminous aided by extreme black in comparision, are neutral to cool and seem to be lighting independent. I was a 30+ year darkroom user.
  4. If you are having trouble calibrating your development and exposure, you could photograph a white wall at various zone settings on multiple rolls, develop the rolls at different times and send me the film. I would be willing to read the densities for you allowing you to plot the density curves and calibrate your setup.

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