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View Poll Results: What's your B&W workflow
Au Naturale - Preserve the film's integrity 111.11%
Grayscale - Two Words: Black & White! 555.56%
I'm colorblind - they all look alike to me   00%
I make Prints, not scans you imbecilic twit 333.33%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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06-05-2009, 07:37 PM   #1
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Grayscale or Hands Off?

I'm curious what the consensus - if any exists - is on whether to force B&W film scans to grayscale or leave the film's inherent hue alone.

I'm scanning a couple rolls of plus-x this evening and when I asked my better half which way she preferred she picked the non-grayscale version.

Here's both versions of the shot in question (just another damn flower)...


Last edited by Venturi; 05-07-2011 at 11:08 PM.
06-05-2009, 09:16 PM   #2
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I wouldn't mind the second if it were here n there...a whole roll might be a little too much (at least to me). Same thing with like...sepia toning, antiquing, etc.

Black and white means black and white
06-06-2009, 03:00 AM   #3
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I think there maybe no right answer to this one. The chances are if you shooting B&W film your going to be printing on B&W paper but there is nothing stopping you from using colour paper, except from equipment.
06-06-2009, 04:17 AM   #4
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I'm all over the ballpark on this one. If I'm using b/w film to begin with, I certainly don't do a grayscale conversion on it, though. I have no qualms about doing a bit of duotone on it, if I think the image looks better that way. I even convert shots done on color film to b/w if they come out looking better that way.

06-06-2009, 04:27 AM   #5
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I keep my scans in RGB but do a so-called black and white conversion in Photoshop, usually using the LAB conversion method. This leaves an adjustable colour layer on top for tone, which you can set to a pure grey or black, or something warmer or cooler. Scans done this way are indistinguishable from grayscale, but far more flexible.

Most people print on inkjets nowadays, and no inkjet does good pure black and white without using expensive Piezography or MIS inksets, so Mike's idea of duotoning (or tri- or quadtoning) is a good one - duotones print very well on most decent inkjet printers.
06-06-2009, 05:46 AM   #6
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In this case I like the grayscale... but myself, I mess with scanner curves when scanning b&w film, to get a bit of tone... sometimes a lot of tone. I could just as easily do so in PS.

I don't believe that anything was pure b&w in the good old days, every paper had its own tonality, so there's nothing wrong with a bit of tone in scans.
06-07-2009, 12:06 AM   #7
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Gray scale. Infact, I scan right to gray scale usually.
06-07-2009, 01:57 AM   #8
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the tone adds to the character of the shot, imho. i prefer to keep the tones natural. grayscaling *almost* seems like wasting the film. it is destroying one part of the film's personality after all...

then again, print a large version directly from film on large archival paper of all your keepers, and do whatever else with the digital copies...

then again then again, it's all a matter of taste... choose your audience (aka better half) and please them

06-07-2009, 04:39 AM   #9
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The second one is over-exposed relative to the first, making the comparison more difficult.

I would say in general you'd want grey-scale though. Any tinting could be added to taste in PP.
06-07-2009, 09:10 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aruxaru Quote
the tone adds to the character of the shot, imho. i prefer to keep the tones natural.
I should have mentioned, that once I have it in gray scale, when I find the image is looking bland, I will adjust curves or contrast.

The biggest problem that I see, is that different folks have different taste for what they like to see in a black and white. I myself prefer the contrasty looking images, that does not work for everything, hence finding that happy medium is the key. I am very much learning and have learned the most by simply looking with admiration and that many photos that get posted here.
06-07-2009, 09:12 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
The second one is over-exposed relative to the first, making the comparison more difficult.

I would say in general you'd want grey-scale though. Any tinting could be added to taste in PP.
This is a very good point. Many of my conversions to Gray are simply done to try and save the photo.
06-07-2009, 08:57 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
The second one is over-exposed relative to the first, making the comparison more difficult.

I would say in general you'd want grey-scale though. Any tinting could be added to taste in PP.
Interesting you say that, because the only difference (in post processing) between the two copies I posted is I flipped the "Treatment" switch in LR2 from Color to Grayscale on the 1st one.
06-08-2009, 08:26 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Venturi Quote
Interesting you say that, because the only difference (in post processing) between the two copies I posted is I flipped the "Treatment" switch in LR2 from Color to Grayscale on the 1st one.
This could still result in over- or under-exposure depending on how the grayscale is calculated. I do all my mono conversions using the Black & White Adjustments layer in PS, since one can individually tweak every channel.

Check out the detail in the petals. I do see a tad more in the grey image, though both are blown, a common problem with flower shots. (As I well know!)
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