"Toning" B&W Images Using Color Paper

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Say that I wanted to try printing B&W negatives on color paper for the purpose trying to get a certain tint (This is an experiment using what I have readily available - please don't suggest printing B&W and then toning). Does anyone know of what filtration to use to get certain effects, such as sepia? Say I tune my filters to get a neutral gray, what set of filters to I add to get a certain tint?

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), February 08, 2001


You haven't been specific about format,so I will assume for the purposes of experimentation you are open to suggestions regardless of the format issue. Do yourself a favor and get some XP2 and get it printed on color paper. Depending on the lab and/or your instructions, it prints to a natural tint. You cannot go to any lab, you're going to have to find a professional lab that is familiar with the film. XP2 is a natural for this,and is IMHO an easier way to go about doing what you want to do unless you've got a lot of time on your hands and just want to do it the way you want to do it. Good luck


-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), February 08, 2001.

I'm doing this myself. Black and white negatives, any format, color paper, RA4 chemicals, and an enlarger with CC filters. Once I have a neutral gray print, I want to know which way to adjust the CC filters to get different tones, like sepia. Anyone even got a guess of what primary colors would generate sepia?

-- John H. Henderson (jhende03@harris.com), February 08, 2001.

We do this occasionally where I work. We don't do any color printing in house, so I can't offer you any starting points. We've done some large murals in the past, and the lab that we use can pretty much give us whatever shade we need. We've even had them match PMS colors, so it can be done. Are you just using CC filters, or do you have a colorhead? I'm just guessing here, but I'd say if you can get a neutral print, to record your time/filter pack data for that, and just play around with the filters from there. Maybe someone with a better eye for color can point you in the right direction, I'm a pretty slow color printer... Another place to try for info. might be to ask around at a good pro lab if there's one nearby. This is pretty standard practice now, to avoid using sepia toners. I know this doesn't help you very much, but it can be done.

-- D. K. Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 08, 2001.

Once upon a time on photo.net there was an article about "toning" images in photoshop. I bet it still exists somewhere on http://photo.net It did talk about the color response curve mappings used to get sepia-like colors.

I would _expect_ (no experience here!!!) a sepia tone to have a sort of tilt toward yellow, slightly toward red. So with color neg materials, that would be somewhat _less_ yellow than your neutral filter combination, maybe slightly less magenta too, but subtract more yellow.

Sorry, this is a thought experiment, no experience here. I'm a B&W printer...

A proper sepia look will have very dark blacks, maybe hard to see the sepia color there, and the pure white hilights will still be pure white, but the intermediate tones are more brownish than neutral gray.

-- mike rosenlof (mike_rosenlof@yahoo.com), February 08, 2001.

Are you already doing color prints or is color printing something new? If it is new to you, you will need to first learn to work with filters and determine your basic filter pack. If you have no plans to print color negatives, you can merely establish the filter pack that produces neutral gray with whichever B&W film you plan to use. If you plan to use more than one B&W film, you will probably have to establish the filter pack for each one since even B&W film bases vary in color.

You might find it to your advantage to lay a fully exposed and processed piece of color film (maybe a clear color film leader) on top of your B&W negative in the enlarger because color papers are balanced to operate with films that have the orangish mask you always see in color films. However, that might not be absolutely necessary when you are print from a B&W neg.

Once you have established your basic filter pack, you can adjust it to produce any color print you want. Just remember (assuming you're working with RA4) to make the change in filtration the opposite of the change in print tone. For example, if you want the print to appear more yellow, you will subtract yellow filtration from the filter pack. If you want the print to appear more greenish, you will need to add magenta to the filter pack. If you want something to appear brown, you will subtract both magenta and yellow in different quantities. Magenta and yellow in equal quantities is red.

In the end, sepia is a term that covers quite a range of colors from yellowish brown to golden brown to brown. There is quite a bit of leeway as to what we call sepia. Just pick a sepia-ish tone that you like and make a note of the filter pack change that was necessary. With a little time and experimentation you can determine the filter pack for any color of toning. Green, blue, pink, whatever!!!

If you aren't fully knowledgeable about working with color materials and subtractive filtration, I would advise you to read up a bit on color photographic printing.

-- Ken Burns (kenburns@twave.net), February 08, 2001.

Thanks for jumping in here. After I posted my response, I realized it had been a long time since I had made a c-print, and I was thinking of how a sepia tone would work out in a filter pack. It probably depends on what sepia is to you. Brown or yellow, or a combo? The murals we've gotten done as "sepia" have tended to be a reddish brown tone, but a bit light. It may be hard to buildup density like you would if you were brown toning or whatever. I don't know though, really, I was never a great color printer...I have fooled around doing what you're doing, but with no aim really. Just turning the knobs on a color head. I think what this other guy is suggesting would work though (as a start). The problem I think you may have, is that with only cc filters, you may not be able to fine tune the tone very well. But, that probably isn't a big deal. If you get stumped, or don't get any other answers, I'll see if I can dig up some pointers for you from some of the folks I work with. (no promises here, we send this stuff out!) Good luck.

-- D. K. Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 08, 2001.

One answer to your question mentioned Photoshop. If you've got photoshop and you have the ability to scan your B&W images, then you can do your experimentation in Photoshop and save your materials for later, and use Photoshop to make your initial mistakes, choices, variations,and benchmark images which you can save for later reference. These reference images you can print out and take to the lab and most lab technicians will freely give you input on filtration.

This is easy to do in Photoshop. You bring in a B&W image into Photoshop that is in greyscale mode or you go to the image tab and click on mode and convert it to greyscale. You can also bring in a color image and convert it to greyscale by doing the same thing.

Once you've brought the image in as a greyscale go back to the image tab, click on mode, and click on Duotone. Once you have clicked to Duotone, you will get a panel that will appear. Once you get this panel, click on load, and you'll get 3 folders to choose from, Duotones,Tritones,and Quadtones. Open one of these folders and you'll get several filter combinations. Pick one of them and immediately your image will change to show you the effect of the filter(Duotone,Tritone,Quadtone). If you like what you see click to make the change permanent. You can also adjust these filter combos and this will make for an almost infinite amount of variation possible.

This is will keep you busy for days,and you don't have enough time, or film, or chemicals, or print paper, to do one tenth of the variations you can do with these Photoshop filters. The advantage of Photoshop is that you can do or undo countless variations and combinations without using up your materials even if you're a beginner.

I have already done this, and you can do a lot of variation in a short amount of time. I would still suggest that along with playing around with the Duotones in Photoshop, that you or anyone else for that matter, get some XP2 which your can process as B&W film and then print onto the paper you already have which produces some very pleasing tones. If you don't want to do it,you won't of course do it. But since the issue has come up, I would mention to anyone seeing this that XP2 processed as B&W,and then printed onto color paper, can produce some striking variations, which you have to see to appreciate.

Regardless of the original question, I would suggest to anyone thinking about playing around with sepia tones, to experiment in Photoshop if you've got access to a computer and buy some XP2 to process yourself or take to a lab. You can get some someprising stuff either way that you hadn't anticipated.

-- Jonathan Brewer (lifestories@earthlink.net), February 08, 2001.

I'm more familiar with this in 35mm than LF, and I've never done it myself, so I can't give you starting values. I'd probably pick the same ones you start with for a color print and go from there. As for getting the right tint, I'd guess it is probably similar to color printing.

I don't know about LF, but the 35mm XP2 doesn't have the orange mask that color films have. My experience is that this results in prints that are more sepia tone. Unfortunately, they sometimes get a little yellowish which makes it look a bit too jaundiced for my taste, but that's easily correctable.

In 35mm, Kodak's chromogenic B&W films (T400CN, which is available in 4x5 if I recall correctly, and Black&White Select, which isn't) both have orange masks. This helps them print more neutrally. I've got some prints from T400CN with a bluish tone I kind of like. I've seen some done in greenish/olive that didn't impress me too much, but if you had the right subject matter it might be nice.

I'd probably use the XP2 super, but keeping a blank color negative around to use as an orange mask is probably a very good idea. Please let us know how it worked.

What I've found working with these films in 35mm is that the grain is really hard to see. When I'm printing them I frequently end up using an image focuser rather than a grain focuser. If I only have a grain focuser around I try to find a small area with high contrast and focus there.


-- Dave Willis (willisd@medicine.wustl.edu), February 09, 2001.

I'd be very surprised if you can get a neutral grey print on colour paper from a conventional B&W negative. The colour mask of negative film isn't an all over 'wash', it lightens where the image dye density is greatest. Colour paper has the opposite characteristic to compensate for this, and will print bright orange if unfiltered. Even if you can match the filtration, I think you'll get colour that will run from cyan/blue to orange across the tonal range. I don't know for sure, I've never tried it, but I have done a hell of a lot of colour printing from colour negs.

As for giving a deliberate cast, that's easy. You get the opposite colour to the filtration you dial in. Add yellow, and the print becomes more blue, add Magenta, and it becomes green.
Your base filter pack is always going to be a combination of Yellow and Magenta, you rarely, if ever, use Cyan. Instead of adding Cyan, you remove equal quantities of Y and M from the 'pack'.
There is no standard starting filtration. Each batch of colour paper has a recommended correction filtration stamped on the packet, as a guide only. The actual filtration depends on the film type, the enlarger and its bulb, and the chemistry and paper type used. At a guess, start with something like 125Y + 100M.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), February 09, 2001.

Oh yes, one other thing. The gamma of colour negatives is very low, so normal B&W negs are going to give you very contrasty results, unless you pull their development. Or, you might try a low contrast/low saturation colour print material, such as Kodak sell for wedding and portrait use.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), February 09, 2001.

Just thought I'd add this, we usually send our mural lab a 4x5 TMX neg., which they bump up to 8x10 on dupe film (not color neg). If I had to make an 8x15 foot sepia tone mural, I think I'd do it this way as well. I don't think Ilford makes XP1 (it was always the old emulsion) in 4x5 anymore, but it was really nice in that size for certain things. It has that same base as the roll films have. I was really amazed when we had them match a pantone color. They nailed it dead on, I guess that's what makes them such a good lab.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 09, 2001.

Because colours like brown and sepia doesn't exist as spectral colours, it can be very hard to achieve these by just using yellow/magenta filtraton. One way could be to make a filter, eg. by exposing a film of the desired colour, and use it in the enlarger between the film and lightsource. Anyway this would help to get a more concistent flow in the printing routine.

-- Jan Eerala (jan.eerala@itameri.net), February 09, 2001.

John, I do a good deal of this at work. First off you need a mask... a simple developed but not exposed piece of film to give you an orange mask works quite good. Sandwich it with your B/W negative and put in a typical filter pack. I have a whole chart I can send you when I get home that tells you what you need to subtract or add for any number of colors. After getting the right "B/W look", then dial in a bit of yellow and a small amount of red which means dial a lower (take out yellow from your filter pack) number of yellow (say 5 pts.) and dial out equal amounts of yellow and magenta say 2 pt. (this is what you do to get red). This should get you in the neighborhood and can be tweaked from there. A cool tone is done by adding Cyan and blue. If you have Acrobat Reader (free download from Abode web site) on your computer, I'll send you a PDF of the color chart. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), February 09, 2001.

yes John, do some huge ring arounds with the sandwiched color film film base ... you'll find it's easier to find a cyanotype look and a sepia look than it is to print one neutral.

-- trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), February 09, 2001.

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