Jump to content


Photo

The whites in B&W cinematography


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:58 AM

We often talk about how to deal with the blacks in B&W photography/cinematography but I'm actually really concerned by the whites.

I would like to obtain "shining" whites but not sure how to abtain it.
My references are certainly films like Soy Cuba and Kubrick's Lolita.

I know that the Kalatozov's film was shot mainly with IR film but I would like to obtain the shine that we can see in the chapter with the farmer and the last one in the valley. The situation was very contrasty with the sky but it was still unusually bright.

I think that the IR film helped a lot but do you think with can have a similar result with a particular processing or exposure?
Perhaps pushing without underexposing 1 stop but only 1/3 of a stop? What about the filters? I guess i would have to use them to make the negative very dark in some areas to have something whiter with the print no?
But I'm not sure if the shine of the whites is really only about its intensity.. Often, white are totally overexposed but don't get that shine.
I know that I have to test but I think I need some direction now!

Also I'm quite impressed by the whites in Lolita and during all the film. I remember an interview of Kubrick that said that he was searching for a particular filter on that time to have this brightness. Do you know what he used?

Thanks a lot!
  • 0

#2 Matthew Espenshade

Matthew Espenshade

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Student

Posted 23 May 2008 - 10:15 PM

Hi,

Since this is an older post I don't know if this will do you any good but I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm not sure what the specifics are with Lolita, but in the aformentioned scene's in "Soy Cuba" with the farmer I can certaintly confirm that that particular sequence was the IR stock.

If that is the look your going for you really need to shoot IR stock mostly in front light because its a characteristic of only B&W IR stocks to cause plant life to go very white while darkening the sky and producting whiter skin tones. In tradtional black and white photography those tonal seperations and augmentations would come in the use of camera filters.

If your looking for whiter skin tone, you should test a varitey of yellow, orange and red filters if your shooting actual black and white negative stock. If your looking to Brighten plants you should use a green filter, and if for some mistifying reason you want a brighter sky you would use a blue filter.

In still photography some people use yellow/green grad filters to darken the sky and brighten plants but that would be damn near impossible in Motion picture photography because we tend to like to move the camera.

They managed to get some pretty nice whites on "The Man who Wasn't There" as well, but they shot Vision 5277 and printed on an ultra high contrast print stock.

Hope I've been helpful.
  • 0

#3 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 23 May 2008 - 11:59 PM

Thanks a lot Matthew for this answer and, yes, you've been very helpful as it's the only answer i have so far!

I guess I'll take my SLR camera with a good old Tri-X and test it with green, red, orange, yellow, blue filters under different conditions and see how it turns out. And try IR stock as well (if I can find it).

Cheers!
  • 0

#4 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 24 May 2008 - 04:18 PM

What about the whited do you like so much? Can you be more specific in your description?
  • 0

#5 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 25 May 2008 - 12:28 AM

What I like is when the whites are more than "shining". They are somewhat overexposed, which create the shine but, on the other hand, the consequence is not important on the blacks and it doesn't look like pushing.
In fact, i love "high" whites but not necessarily like very deep blacks and want to keep a kind of density in the middle greys.

So the thing I was looking for is how to manipulate the white without affecting the rest to much.

To keep the example of Soy Cuba's scene with the farmer, the effect that I love is when the whites are taking a large part of the frame when he's cutting the plants. Here IR film is, I guess, important.
I love as well the last part during the arrival of the revolutionnary when the sky is not realistic at all and is like a big white shining lake around the heads of the characters shot with a very low angle.

As Matthew said, IR film and filters constitute a good way to obtain that, working shot by shot in function of the colours in the frame.

Can you see other ones? Hope I'm clear...
  • 0

#6 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2008 - 01:10 AM

Is it a little halation around the whites that you like?
  • 0

#7 Max Jacoby

Max Jacoby
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2955 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 May 2008 - 02:44 AM

I think you're describing what I consider a b&w image with good contrast. The nice thing about whites in b&w is that they are slightly grainy (unlike color neg), especially if they bloom at the same time. I think achieving this is mostly a matter of exposure and use of the zone system, always making sure that you have at least one overexposed white reference in the shot.
  • 0

#8 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:33 AM

I think you're describing what I consider a b&w image with good contrast. The nice thing about whites in b&w is that they are slightly grainy (unlike color neg), especially if they bloom at the same time. I think achieving this is mostly a matter of exposure and use of the zone system, always making sure that you have at least one overexposed white reference in the shot.


You're right, it's a lot about overexposure and i love it generally in b&w and in colour as well. That's also why Chris, you're right, I like this little halation around the whites. I heard that even for moving shots, Soy Cuba's DoP kept a strong and direct light close to actors' faces to have an overexposure.
But the feeling I tried to describe (I'm aware that I'm not really clear) is that one: If you shoot a scene in b&w, there's automatically white parts in the frame. I like when those parts are bigger and/or different than the ones that i would have without doing anything particular, i mean with a proper exposure, normal development etc...

That's why Soy Cuba came to my mind. The parts that would have been dark traditionnally become white by using filters or IR stock. And sometimes the parts that would have been a little white are really white, and not necessarilly thanks to the exposure because the rest is correctly exposed but certainly cause of a work on the lens and filters.

At the end, there is the impression of shining whites but slightly different than overexposed whites cause they are slightly unreal as well. Do you remember the opening scene of the film with the shots of Cuba's coast? Totally dream like and full of filters.
Does it make sense?
  • 0

#9 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:35 AM

A little question as well: have you ever tried a bleach bypass for a b&w final print?
  • 0

#10 David Auner aac

David Auner aac
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1117 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:00 AM

A little question as well: have you ever tried a bleach bypass for a b&w final print?


AFAIK there is no bleach step in B&W, because the bleach is supposed to remove the silver from the film and leave only the color dyes. But there are no color dyes in B&W film, so a bleach step would ruin your print by removing the silver.

Cheers, Dave
  • 0

#11 anthony le grand

anthony le grand
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 80 posts
  • Director
  • france

Posted 25 May 2008 - 08:26 AM

AFAIK there is no bleach step in B&W, because the bleach is supposed to remove the silver from the film and leave only the color dyes. But there are no color dyes in B&W film, so a bleach step would ruin your print by removing the silver.

Cheers, Dave


Thanks for your answer Dave. But i meant shoot in colour, make the bleach by pass with this colour film and change it in b&w later.
That's possible no? or still ruin the transfer to b&w?
  • 0

#12 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 25 May 2008 - 10:49 PM

If you're going to black and white and only want the contrast curve difference, I would just apply a different curve in post. It will save a considerable amount of money by letting you process normal. It also will let you tune the curve easier than doing lots of tests to fine tune the amount of bleach bypass you want.
  • 0


Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineLab

CineTape

Glidecam

Opal

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

The Slider

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Opal

Abel Cine

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks