Orthochromatic Films

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by Vlad Soare, May 15, 2008.

  1. I see that Rollei makes an orthochromatic film, and I'd like to try it out just
    for the sake of curiosity. I've never used ortho films. I know what they are and
    how they work (no, I'm not confusing them with lith film :-D). What I don't know
    is what kind of subjects they suit and how they render them. I mean, I know the
    film is not sensitive to red light, so the reds should come out very dark, but
    on the other hand it's not just red that's affected, but all colors containing
    more or less red. It's not as simple as all red objects turning black and
    everything else remaining normal. I expect the effect to be quite complex, and I
    just can't visualize it. <br>
    What exactly should I expect? What kind of subjects will look best on ortho
    film? Could anyone post a couple of samples?<br><br>
    Instead of using a genuine orthochromatic film, could one use a normal film with
    a very deep cyan filter? Would it have the same effect? Are there such filters?
    Thank you.
  2. I recently got a roll of Adox Orth 25, but I have yet to shoot it.

    I read, here I believe, that male portraits for a good subject. Something about how it
    made men look manli-er. Women are bad because it tends to emphasize make-up.

    Thats all I remember.
  3. http://www.flickr.com/groups/bw_film-dev_combinations/discuss/72157605020797553/
  4. i use ortho film for very high contrast subjects.

  5. Ansel Adams liked it because it gave very luminous results in open shade.
  6. Thanks for the links, guys. I see that people usually like it because of its high resolving power and high contrast (due to its low speed), and not necessarily for the lack of red sensitivity. I, on the other hand, am attracted to its orthochromatic characteristic and don't care much about resolution, grain and contrast. In fact I'd prefer an every-day ortho film, like a Tri-X without the red sensitivity, for example. :)<br>
    Anyway, there aren't too many choices, so if it has to be a document film, so be it then. I'll try to get along with it.
    Just out of curiosity, not that I'd want to use such a thing, but are there photographic films only sensitive to the blue side of the spectrum, like the ones our ancestors used in the 19th century?
  7. As you correctly postulated, a Wratten number 44 cyan filter renders panchromatic films orthochromatic; results are, for practical purposes, the same. This gives a bit more choice in films, and lets you tailor the film's response to the subject.

    I often use a blue filter to get a similar, but less pronounced effect. Other cyan and blue filters will have similar characteristics.

    I like the way the #44 renders foliage in bright sun (luminous shadows, lighter foliage than pan film). I also use it to soften shadows in very harshly lit subjects and to render a blue sky white (one of the "disadvantages" of ortho film...).

    Have fun.

    Doremus Scudder

  8. I've shot a few rolls of Rollei Ortho 25 and developed them in Rodinal, all with great
    results. This is a very sharp, fine grained film and make sure that if you're shooting
    people with it that their skin is immaculate, since this film emphasizes any blemishes.
  9. Here are some examples... this is a shot of the Matterhorn that I took in Switzerland last summer
  10. This is my friend Caroline... as beautiful as she is, I did have to retouch this shot a bit because of how unforgiving the ortho film is with skin
  11. This isn't a particularly great shot, since she is hunching a little, but it really shows off those olive skin tones that ortho film can give you, from a person who doesn't have that kind of skin
  12. Hi Guys,

    Back in my historical days, I used Ortho X and later TriX Ortho (both from Kodak) and loved them for certain landscape used, but mostly for male character portraits, and glamour photos of women with great skin. In the late 50's and early 60's I would import 120 ortho (ASA 64) film either from Agfa or Gevaert, I can't remember which was available. Later, of course, the two companies merged.

    As always, I have a story, In the 1950's, I was the only photographer to get pictures of freckles in the annual "Freckle Face Boy" contest because I photographed them waith a press camera and Ortho X. All the other photographers with their Rolleis and Leicas using Panchromatic film never photographed a speckled kid. I sold lot of photos to the same guys who laughed at me when I showed up with a 4x5 press camera and I didn't tell them I was using ortho film (there wasn't any ortho MF in the US) and none in the 35mm world in those days, only LF.

  13. Let me add something which I do whenever the question come up. I keep a 50 Cyan filter available whenever I want to shoot ortho. Harrison & Harrison will make these for you when ever you need them. Filter factor is about 1 stop, Development doesn't change muche, try it once before you need it.

  14. John-Paul, thank you very much for your pictures. That's just what I wanted to see. It's a beautiful effect.<br>
    That's an interesting idea, Lynn. The first thing most photographers reach for when faced with a freckled subject is the orange filter. I've been taught so, too, though now I'm trying to free myself from this habit. Deliberately emphasizing freckles takes some courage, not because the freckles were somehow ugly (on the contrary, I find them attractive), but because freckled persons tend not to want their freckles visible in photographs. <br><br>
    One of the reasons I'm interested in orthochromatic films is that I want to get into large format photography. I've just won an auction for a complete 4x5 kit (I'll tell more about this in the LF forum), and until I can get a daylight tank I was thinking to try tray developing. I was hoping to get some ortho film and process it under red lighting, because tray developing in complete darkness scaress the hell out of me. I'm sure I'd scratch every single sheet. :-D<br>
    That's why I said I'm interested more in the orthochromatic characteristic than in good resolution and fine grain. :)<br>
    But if I like the ortho effect I may start using the film in medium format, too, or maybe try to get a cyan filter.
    Thank you all for your replies.
  15. What Lynn and Doremus said. Think of cyan as minus red, allowing only blue and green to pass. That will work.
  16. You could also use Efke 25 or 50 with a green filter for more of an ortho look.
  17. Freestyle offers ADOX ortho25 in 35mm and 120 if you want to try it before buying sheets. I like the look of LF ortho portraits (with alot of negative retouching), I am a fan of 30s Hollywood Glamour. A Tungsten filter with Tri-x will give you similar results also.
  18. I always carry a couple of holders loaded with Ilford Ortho+. It is extremely useful in those scenes which include not only bright sunlit areas, but also heavy shade areas. Since ortho films are sensitive only to blue light, and shadows are blue, the film opens up those shadows.

    It is also useful for portraits of men whom you want to record as having a "rustic" complexion.

    Hvve fun with it, I do.
  19. - It is extremely useful in those scenes which include not only bright sunlit areas, but also heavy shade areas. Since ortho films are sensitive only to blue light, and shadows are blue, the film opens up those shadows. - NO WAY!

    Not true at all. The fact that you cut the red part of the spectrum (in ortho film) has nothing to do with improving sensitivity of the different wavelength. Panchromatic films are as sensitive to the blue part as the ortho films are.

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