5 Day Black and White Challenge Day 2 – Daffodils

For my 2nd picture in the 5 day black and white challenge, I’m posting an image once more taken on Pan F Plus 50 film.  This photograph, very different to yesterday’s, was taken with my Mamiya 645 Pro Medium Format film camera.

The picture sums up, for me, what is so special about film photography.  It’s all about the grain in the image. Digital ‘noise’ is so very different.  The grain is not so evident at this resolution but looking at the image full size, the grain gives a really lovely texture and a quality to the image that, although it can be mimicked in digital, it can’t be matched.  As I’ve said before, I’m not about to sell my Nikon D800 and film is hard work by comparison to digital photography, but I’m finding working with film very satisfying.

I’ve used a very fine grain film, Pan F 50 Plus, for this image.  Pan F however, is known for being quite contrasty, see yesterday’s image, with very rich blacks. To counteract the tendency for heavy contrast, with this photograph I set the ASA to 25 rather that 50 on my light meter (leading to slight over-exposure) and pulled the processing, that is, I stopped development before the standard time for the Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer that I was using..

Daffodils80mm f/4 1/30 sec. ASA 25

Today I’m going to invite Tina of Travels and Trifles to take up the 5 day Black and White Challenge.  Tina is of course known for her beautiful (colour) travel photography but there have been some gorgeous black and white images along the way.  This is all a bit of fun and there is of course no pressure to take part but I’m seeing some beautiful black and white photography as a result of the challenge and that’s what it’s all about.

spaceAdrian Theze logospace


62 responses

  1. I love the subtle tones in this image.

    February 15, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    • Thank you very much Jim!

      February 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

  2. You really do have to enlarge this to see the grain you talk about – it is lovely and creates a delicate soft focus on this pretty image – though I must confess I do prefer flowers in colour ;-)

    February 15, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    • Thank you Jude and me too, why photograph flowers in black and white, the colours are beautiful? The yellows in these daffodils particularly. I guess by removing the colour, the photograph becomes much more about tone and form. Perhaps we often see the colour when we look at flowers and don’t particularly look beyond it.

      February 15, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      • I do like plants with distinct textures, shapes and patterns (thinking cacti and aloes) in black and white. I guess their flowers are the least attractive part of the plant. With your daffs you do notice the frills more and the trumpet shape.

        February 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      • I think so Jude.. :-)

        February 15, 2015 at 6:51 pm

  3. Wow! Stunning image, Adrian! I am most impressed with your rapid grasp of the language, as it were, of film…. Setting a lower ASA, fine, but then pulling processing by the relevant amount and getting the result… Kudos!

    February 15, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    • Thank you so much Sue. I had a chat with David Penprase a couple of weeks ago. A consumate film photographer, developer and printer and this was how he advised me to handle Pan F Plus. He added that he took his first ever published picture using this film.
      This is one of the distinct advantages of being involved with the Royal Photographic Society, you make friends and get introduced to some amazing photographers, their knowledge and advice always gladly offered.

      February 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      • How great to be able to tap into the knowledge of such people. From time to time, I think to myself that I would like to go for an RPS distinction, but then I wonder if I REALLY have what it takes….. I guess I could go for RPS membership and then decide….

        February 15, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      • I think you have what it takes Sue and one of the great things about RPS distinctions is working towards them absolutely improves you photography. You’re most definitely at Licentiate standard and beyond I’d say.

        February 15, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      • That’s kind of you, Adrian…. We really will have to meet up, and I will tell you my stumbling blocks!

        February 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      • I look forward to meeting you Sue.. :-)

        February 15, 2015 at 6:13 pm

  4. Great image.

    February 15, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      February 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

  5. awesome !

    February 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    • Thank you very much Gwennie! :-)

      February 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

  6. The problem for me is looking at a print versus this digital interpretation of analog u miss the experience – I am not a fan of grain or noise tbh but the challenge to shoot in a different medium or field is a good experience it stretches you which is generally a positive experience

    February 15, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    • Very true Scott. I haven’t done any printing of my negatives yet, I have my enlarger though. I’m in the process of making my bathroom light proof. I have a sliding door which is proving a bit problematic.

      February 15, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      • Ha ha have a Hasselblad but it just for fun – my developing will be in RAW only methinks – I did Mono developing 25 years ago it’s too time consuming for me I think – digital rekindled my interest – good luck with the darkroom though

        February 15, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      • Thank you Scott! I’m enjoying analogue alongside my digital work very much. It’s a lot of work and time consuming as you say but it was important for me, a part of my photographic development, to give it a go.

        February 15, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      • Absolutely agree and understand – interestingly I have had a couple of problems with kit struggling between cold exterior temp then moving indoors which has affected focus – so much so that I use a separate camera inside n out

        February 15, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      • Interesting! That’s clearly something I’m going to have to bear in mind in the next few weeks. I’m off to Iceland again and it’s very cold and snowy just at the moment. Taking my camera in and out of a warm car into an icy wind clearly might be an issue then.

        February 15, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      • Norway was fine but I was going from warm to cold – the problems have arose with cold to warm

        February 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      • That’s good to hear! :-)

        February 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm

  7. I just about see what you mean about the grain in the image when I enlarge it on my screen, and I agree, it is so different from noise in digital, so much more delicate, whereas noise to me looks crude and I try and avoid it at all cost (though I sometimes find it impossible as my kit is pretty basic). Perhaps it is just the case that (ever so slightly) grainy images evoke a feeling of the good old days as we are looking through those rosy pink spectacles but it suits the daffodils so very well.

    February 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    • Thank you Sonja! I try and avoid digital noise at all costs which is why I shoot with a tripod so I can set 50 or 100 ISO and slower shutter speeds are not problematic. Analogue grain is very different to digital noise and much more evident in the original .tif at 7000 odd pixels. Processed in a certain way digitally with sharpening, it can look a bit like pencil on paper I think.

      February 15, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      • Haha maybe that is why I feel comfortable with grain then ;-)

        February 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      • A photo could never match what you do though Sonja, grain or no! :-)

        February 15, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      • Thank you – luckily it doesn’t have to, nor do I have to match a photograph. Two different purposes allow both to co-exist in harmony I’d like to think. Which is just as well or I might not have liked your recent images at all ;-) I’m curious what you will come up with next.

        February 15, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      • You’re absolutely right on that one! Hmm, I’m a little curious too.. I’m going to have to give it some serious thought.. :-)

        February 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm

  8. Great work, Adrian! Love the soft tones and the crisp details you’ve captured here. :)

    February 15, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    • Thank you so much Camilla! :-)

      February 15, 2015 at 7:32 pm

  9. Yvonne Theze

    A really lovely photo x

    Sent from my iPad


    February 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    • Thank you Mum! :-) x

      February 15, 2015 at 8:06 pm

  10. Pat


    February 15, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Pat! :-)

      February 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm

  11. Gorgeous result.

    February 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    • Thank you so much Lou! :-)

      February 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm

  12. Stunningly beautiful. The tone and grain are perfect. Did you scan this from negative or from the silver gelatin print? Both hubby and I are film photographers and have recently ventured into the digital world as we do a lot of backpacking and the medium format Mamiya 645’s and all the paraphernalia were becoming too heavy (25 lbs and 35 lbs plus tripods on difficult woodsy terrain – mainly deep into Florida woods and swamps). A whole new experience for us. What worked on film doesn’t always work on digital and vice versa I’m sure. It’s like learning all over again. Great post. Looking forward to seeing more of your work. Have a great week :)

    February 16, 2015 at 12:59 am

    • Thank you MJ. This image was scanned from a negative. I’m not surprised you gave up lugging the 645 around. It really is so very heavy. That said, my Nikon D800 is quite a weight too. I think you’re right about certain images working better in different formats. I’m really enjoying my first steps with film and am sure I will continue to work in both digital and film as time progresses, now that I’ve had a taste of what film can offer. I hope you have a great week too!

      February 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

  13. This is absolutely beautiful. When I read your title, I didn’t think daffodils would look good in black and white. Boy was I wrong! And I did enlarge the photo as much as I could and the grain is really nice.

    February 16, 2015 at 2:13 am

    • Thank you so much Angeline. I always thought that flowers should be photographed in colour. Colour is what flowers do so well but as I said in an earlier reply to Jude, take away the colour and we forced to look at tone and form and I think we see something new and very beautiful in doing so.

      February 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

  14. Beautiful picture, Chillbrook. Regarding the problematic sliding door, I would advise you to hand a black curtain, either inside or outside. It’s a very effective solution to such problems.

    February 16, 2015 at 2:22 am

    • Thank you Shimon and thanks for the advice. I’m sure hanging a curtain will work.

      February 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

  15. This is a really exquisite image, Adrian. The daffodils look so ethereal. :)

    February 16, 2015 at 2:30 am

    • Thank you so much Sylvia. I was pleasantly surprised when I developed the image! :-)

      February 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

  16. Beautiful in B&W elegance

    February 16, 2015 at 3:18 am

    • Thank you very much Mary! :-)

      February 16, 2015 at 8:55 am

  17. Stéphane Cassin Photographie

    Magnifique, I love this B&W!

    February 16, 2015 at 3:56 am

    • Thank you so much Stéphane! Much appreciated!

      February 16, 2015 at 8:35 am

  18. Beautifully soft tones and textures (and I see I’m already a day behind with your Challenge!)

    February 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

    • I was really pleased with the way this picture turned out. I think I’m going to have to do some more like it, eems a good recipe. Thank you! :-)

      February 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm

  19. Stunning photograph, Adrian…so very beautiful.

    February 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    • Thank you Scott! Much appreciated!

      February 16, 2015 at 10:48 pm

  20. Another fine shot ~

    February 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    • And thank you again! :-)

      February 16, 2015 at 10:49 pm

  21. I love the way you kept the contrast low on this. Talking about grain, I can’t help but think about whether you’re admiring the look of the film grain on the hard copy, or on the computer. I’m sure it’s true that the grain that black and white processing programs add is nothing like the original – but it begs the question, what is the original and how much does it change when it’s viewed here? I do see the difference by the way, and I agree with you that it’s unmatched – but it’s just an interesting thing to think about, the grain on paper, the grain digitally added, the grain that was on paper and is now seen digitally, etc. etc.

    February 17, 2015 at 2:55 am

    • I know exactly what you mean Lynn. In the digital era where so much is processed digitally, even film, how do we know really what we’re seeing. I’ve been admiring the grain in my scanning software before any processing. I have just been noticing how differently film develops in Photoshop compared to a digital image. :-)

      February 17, 2015 at 8:23 am

  22. Beautiful high-key image, Adrian

    February 17, 2015 at 8:26 am

    • Thank you very much Andy!

      February 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

  23. OH my. All I can say is …gorgeous.

    February 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    • Thanks Elena! I was really pleased with the way the daffodils turned out! :-)

      February 20, 2015 at 5:39 pm