Well, my adventures with B&W film continue. To my surprise, the processing of my second roll of Kodak 400CN is totally different than my first roll. The first roll was mailed to a lab and came back with WAY TOO much contrast and a strong sepia/magenta cast. I thought well what am I going to do with my other 8 rolls of film? So, I continued shooting my second roll of Kodak 400CN film. This time, I was going to use the one-hour photo at Costco to process. The technician claimed it needed B&W processing and just would not believe that it was supposed to be processed in color chemicals. I wended my way through the crowds to leave. I headed across the street to Ritz Camera. The prints cost me 3x as much and came back completely different. The prints are neutral and fairly flat. That is great because I can add contrast to my taste after scanning.
On a different note, most of my images from my second roll are fairly boring. I am feeling really exhausted and creatively depleted lately. I visited Santana Row this weekend and took a roll of B&W film. Most of the images are so what and some are what was I thinking! I hope to go out and find my muse again soon.
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From my experience, B+W takes a lot of getting used to. For some bizarre reason, when I was in my 20’s I shot a lot of amazing B+W stuff without even thinking about it. I shot Tri-X and T-max mostly and some of the Ilford films and I got great range from black to white and very flattering photos. I picked it up again a couple of years ago and everything I shoot is gruesome. It seems to severe, so contrasty, and no crisp mid-tones. It isn’t the light or the subject. And I’ve tried several labs. I think it’s just me, trying too hard. Or maybe the film has changed. I just bought some Ilford FP4 to try again. I do have a problem with the labs these days. They just don’t take the time to do a good job. I was shooting roll after roll of crap and getting it developed at pro labs and it was still awful. Too stark or either too muddy. I don’t know the secret. I’ve experimented recently with Ansel Adams’ zone technique, but I think it is me who needs to devote more careful attention to the light and to “seeing” in grays and stuff. Good for you for working on it. I shot the CN film once and the results were underwhelming. Keep up the effort. I think the secret is to choose one film and shoot it to death until you understand it, but it’s hard if you aren’t doing your own developing. It is tough to find a good lab here that gives consistent results. I want to get back into the darkroom, along with 400 other hobbies I gave up. Keep at it. Your eye is amazing, so the techical part will surely follow.. 🙂