Recipe for Nostalgic B&W tones

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Hello all, I've been obsessed with vintage Japanese photography (ex. Nakaji Yasui, Araki, Eikoh Hosoe).
It's not sharp, quite noir, quite cinematic, and so full of emotions.
I love the tone so much but thought it would be futile trying to imitate such tone
since it's probably the effect of vintage lens, films, cameras, etc.

However, I just discovered Junku Nishimura who recreates the tone perfectly. And my hope is up.
So, I'd like to ask if anyone shared the same obsession and could provide a recipe to create a nostalgic B&W tone for my photographs?

Thank you in advance!
 

koraks

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Looks like a fairly straightforward approach like 400 speed film exposed at box speed or even a little less, develop normally or with a little more contrast, then printed with a rather high contrast grade and burn/dodge where desired on a warmtone paper. But...there are many ways to skin a cat.
 

Ian Grant

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Actually you are describing a lack of tones, images with a very limited tonality, slight under-exposure and a little extra development, Not what we all want.

Ian
 

Lachlan Young

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Looks like a fairly straightforward approach like 400 speed film exposed at box speed or even a little less, develop normally or with a little more contrast, then printed with a rather high contrast grade and burn/dodge where desired on a warmtone paper. But...there are many ways to skin a cat.

Pretty much this - a lot of the time it was about printing 2-3 grades harder than 'correct' for the negative & using those aesthetics to attack the hidebound/ stifling strictures of the photographic practices of the day - as was ignoring notions of slow shutter speeds, composition etc. Making it work is more about mentalité than pastiche - today's materials can do the job just fine.
 

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My impression is, that there is a combination of soft lens and high grain at work. Since the grain is tack sharp, the overall image does not appear as soft in a bad sense. There are straightforward ways to replicate the softness and the grain, but it will be a challenge to find subject matter that really works with this style.
 

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My impression is, that there is a combination of soft lens and high grain at work. Since the grain is tack sharp, the overall image does not appear as soft in a bad sense. There are straightforward ways to replicate the softness and the grain, but it will be a challenge to find subject matter that really works with this style.

That might simply be the means of Nishimura's digitisation rearing its ugly head - Hosoe, Araki etc were all using top quality kit - Nikon, Pentax, Leica etc. Not sure what Nishimura is using, but 1/60, 1/30 shutter speeds handheld will soften things up fast & using a pre-asph 35mm Summilux-M wide open also brings some pretty intense spherical aberrations into play - a different kind of 'soft' from what most people (outwith a sector of large format users) would understand as 'soft'.
 

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Thank you all for the reply! I have a hunch that it's more or less about the printing.

@darkosaric Yes! this is exactly what I aimed for. Did you push your film at all or just shoot at 400? Did Rodinal play any role in this tone or it's all about the paper and printing?
If that so, does it mean I'm hopeless at recreating this tone without printing? Thanks!

Welcome to APUG :smile:!

I have printed my pictures from Japan also with a mind to get more "gritty" and 1970's Japanese look. I have used iso 400 film, developed in Rodinal, and printed on grade 4 filter (higher contrast than usual):

https://www.deviantart.com/darkosaric/art/Japan-1-722377038
https://www.deviantart.com/darkosaric/art/Japan-4-722377313

But first and most important in achieving your goal is that you visit Japan and make some photos there, if you can afford it - of course.
 

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Thank you all for the reply! I have a hunch that it's more or less about the printing.

@darkosaric Yes! this is exactly what I aimed for. Did you push your film at all or just shoot at 400? Did Rodinal play any role in this tone or it's all about the paper and printing?
If that so, does it mean I'm hopeless at recreating this tone without printing? Thanks!

No, it's not necessarily about Rodinal - and if you used more average 1950's exposure & processing recommendations (generous compared to today) you'll get a grainier, denser neg - as much of the sharp grain etc is from printing on a contrasty grade of paper which really brings out the grain etc. A slight push (800-1000) & more generous processing are also worth exploring too. Ilford's Microphen or similar are worth a try as well.

Yes you can make prints like that from a scan, it's not difficult - BTDT on a not irregular basis for several people, but the better the scan, the easier it is. Try to avoid consumer grade flatbeds or excessive sharpening at the scanning stage.
 

darkosaric

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@darkosaric Yes! this is exactly what I aimed for. Did you push your film at all or just shoot at 400? Did Rodinal play any role in this tone or it's all about the paper and printing?
If that so, does it mean I'm hopeless at recreating this tone without printing? Thanks!

Shoot at 400. No, Rodinal is not so important, I use it because I am get used to it, cheap and does not go bad.
You can get this effect in post processing of the negative in your computer, but I am supporter of the good old printing in the darkroom. For me it is like this: develop negative normally, and then change tone and contrast in the final print. In a year or two - maybe I would like to print those Japanese pictures with less contrast - and it will be easy.
 

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why not ask Junku Nishimura yourself ? he's on flickr..
you can go to his website and download his darkroom /film processing manual
maybe there are hints in there ? my guess is they are negative scans ( in color )
and he is good at burning and dodging and using the contrast slider .. or they are just stright prints
using ansco 130 developer or something else that gives tonality and contrast in the print..
but only he knows what he does .. ( have you read the interviews in lens culture &c ? )
 

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Junku is awesome. We are in mutual following on Flickr. I read as much as it was availible in English about him. And here is one seminar with him online and at least one good video of him walking and talking.
He used Summarit 50 1.5 and it gives sertain look and I think he switched to Lux which is also not an Nikon on rendering :smile:
He admitted once what he would print his earlier prints with less contrast.
You can't emulate darkroom print in computer, sorry, Darko.
Glossy RC paper seems to give more black, IMO.

Then people see my darkroom street pictures they often ask if it is an old picture.
Want nostalgic tones? Print.
 

koraks

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You can't emulate darkroom print in computer, sorry, Darko.
Of course one can. What nonsense. There's enough examples of photographers who have shown their prints to an audience not telling which ones were inkjet and which ones were wet prints, with the audience in general not being able to tell which is which. But both darkroom and digital printing require skill.
 

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Of course one can. What nonsense. There's enough examples of photographers who have shown their prints to an audience not telling which ones were inkjet and which ones were wet prints, with the audience in general not being able to tell which is which. But both darkroom and digital printing require skill.

Why are you comparing me or anyone else here with general audience? It is not nonsense it is offence. I'm not this blind. And I do print both, darkroom and bw inks.
Love rich bw inks :smile:.
 

warden

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Hello all, I've been obsessed with vintage Japanese photography (ex. Nakaji Yasui, Araki, Eikoh Hosoe).
It's not sharp, quite noir, quite cinematic, and so full of emotions.
I love the tone so much but thought it would be futile trying to imitate such tone
since it's probably the effect of vintage lens, films, cameras, etc.

However, I just discovered Junku Nishimura who recreates the tone perfectly. And my hope is up.
So, I'd like to ask if anyone shared the same obsession and could provide a recipe to create a nostalgic B&W tone for my photographs?

Thank you in advance!

Thanks for introducing me to Junku. I like the work he did for Lensculture and his images on Flickr are cool and have that Japanese noir look.

You didn't mention how you wanted to make this type of image - are you planning to expose film and then scan, or will you use the darkroom? Is your goal to make this type of image on paper or forego paper and share digitally online?
 

Ko.Fe.

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Whatever you say.

I knew one real photog, who went to Japan and is inspired by Daido Moriyama.
He went not just as typical tourist from Europe, but on bike he brought on plane and sleeping in tent as he was going on bicycle accross Japan.
He made series of Xerox prints once and they looked nostalgically awesome.
 

removed account4

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Why are you comparing me or anyone else here with general audience? It is not nonsense it is offence. I'm not this blind. And I do print both, darkroom and bw inks.
Love rich bw inks :smile:.

hi Ko.Fe

i was friends with this guy who used to say the exact same thing you are saying
the key words are used to ...
i had darkroom made prints and ink and light jet prints and i asked him to tell me
which was which he couldn't .. he was a pro and an expert in photography who
kept insisting darkroom work is superior in every respect & it was an insult to say otherwise
the end of the story is it really doesn't matter. do what you like and like what you do too many bad vibes..
 

Ko.Fe.

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hi Ko.Fe

i was friends with this guy who used to say the exact same thing you are saying
the key words are used to ...
i had darkroom made prints and ink and light jet prints and i asked him to tell me
which was which he couldn't .. he was a pro and an expert in photography who
kept insisting darkroom work is superior in every respect & it was an insult to say otherwise
the end of the story is it really doesn't matter. do what you like and like what you do too many bad vibes..

He was just sweet to you and didn't want to tell you :smile:.

Normally exposed on take, normally printed ink or dr aren't very different at quick glance and on small prints.
I have ink and dr prints framed. They are pleasing adequately.


But in this thread we are talking about nostalgic and odd tones. Again, some will insist what they could emulate everything, but here is also some and one who will tell the king is naked.
 

faberryman

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But in this thread we are talking about nostalgic and odd tones. Again, some will insist what they could emulate everything, but here is also some and one who will tell the king is naked.
Yes, it is hard to make an inkjet print look like a bad wet print. Muddy tone and soot and chalk are hard to replicate.
 
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warden

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hi Ko.Fe

i was friends with this guy who used to say the exact same thing you are saying
the key words are used to ...
i had darkroom made prints and ink and light jet prints and i asked him to tell me
which was which he couldn't .. he was a pro and an expert in photography who
kept insisting darkroom work is superior in every respect & it was an insult to say otherwise
the end of the story is it really doesn't matter. do what you like and like what you do too many bad vibes..

Brooks Jensen (publishes Lenswork) has shared many times stories like yours, where expertly made digital prints on the wall have proven impossible to tell from darkroom ones when shared with experts side by side. I doubt this was true 15 years ago but certainly don't doubt it today. Modern digital printing is just incredible, and of course digital manipulation can make anything look like anything in the right hands.
 
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