Great Trips / Europe project, and for my Daytrips books. Up until the late 1980s It was exceedingly difficult and expensive to convert color to B&W, and the results were often not very good. The cost of printing books in color was prohibitive for the limited distribution involved. On top of that, I loved B&W work ever since getting my own darkroom way back in 1946, and later working as an assistant to the famous photographer Richard Avedon.
So, up until 1989 I took most of my travel pictures on B&W film, using good old Tri-X at first and later switching to Ilford HP5 and Kodak T-MAX 400 when those became available. These I developed in D-76 and printed on Ilford Multigrade paper, all in the kitchen of my New York apartment after I left my studio business in 1979.
Conversions involved making a special monochrome negative from the color transparency, then making and overlaying masking films to tone down highlights and increase shadow details, and to cope with the contrast problem. This didn't always work well.
All that changed in 1989 when Kodak introduced its EKTAR color negative films, available in ISO speeds of 25, 125, and 1000. These emulsions were designed for professional use and yielded both high-quality color prints via either the "C" or dye transfer processes, as well as quite good B&W prints — the latter using Panalure panchromatic paper in total darkness. This meant that photographers could have their cake and eat it too. I began experimenting with this in the fall of 1989, and then used it as my exclusive color/B&W film until it was replaced by Kodak's Royal Gold line in 1994. Today, nearly all color negative (print) films can yield acceptable B&W images.
But why even bother? Both color slides or negatives and color prints are easily scanned into a computer program such as Adobe Photoshop and manipulated there. The latest CS3 version supposedly is very good at this and allows the greyscale monochrome density of each of the three primary and three secondary colors to be adjusted individually. I have not tried this; in fact I find that Photoshop Elements is good enough for my present needs, and is much easier to use.
And of course most photos today are shot with digital cameras to begin with.
Interested in photography? Check out my "Assisting Avedon" blog.
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