View Full Version : B&W pictures for do-it-yourselfers

11-06-2003, 04:43 PM
I really really want to do some of the nude baby boy pics as discussed in the lounge. Questions for those who have done them at home (can't afford the pro right now and want them before X-mas)

1. I like the velvet idea. How much yardage to drape over things nicely? Which works better, white or black?

2. What film speed? Did you use B&W or color and then develop as B&W? Any cheap places to develop B&W film (our local place charges $14 and reprints are pricy)

3. Any lighting tricks?

any other helpful info would be great!!! i'm totally on the collage idea now for gifts and hope to do it soon.

trying-to-conceive :)
mama to Jack 6/6/03

11-06-2003, 04:58 PM
Shannon, we have taken all of our photos of Nash with a digital camera, and you can change the colors of the photo to B&W using a computer... But that probably isn't helpful, since you're using an SLR. Wanna borrow our camera?

11-06-2003, 05:19 PM
We used B&W film; after talking to a few places, we found out that we would get better pictures than if we used color film and developed it as B&W. Fortunately B&W film is about the same price as color film - we got ours at Target. We developed the pictures at Wal-Mart for the same price as color developing (note that this isn't true B&W developing - some pics came out with a green tinge, some with a red tinge), then picked the pictures we wanted and had B&W reprints done at a nice camera place. It was cheaper than developing all three rolls as B&W in the first place, especially since we didn't use a lot of the pictures.

FYI - we made three identical collages (like I posted) and then one smaller one with different pictures. So we would have had to order reprints either way.

Honestly, we took the pictures on a white blanket. Since we were doing close-ups of body parts, you couldn't really see the blanket much. The velvet really wasn't necessary for us. If you are doing full body shots, then the velvet would make sense.

We used natural light, and lots of it - I'm not sure how a flash would change things.

11-06-2003, 10:17 PM
I'm no expert but with my playing around with it...

I use the digital and then turn them into b/w by clicking one button or using shutterly to do it. You could also do sepia and that is really pretty just a slightly different look. Borrow heva's camera and try it out!

No idea on how much velvet to buy, but at the studio it seemed about 3 yards were used. Try it with both black and white fabric and see what you like better. I liked the black because of the contrast with his pale little body.

I always think natural light is better than flash, but now I need to find a good spot in the house to do that!

They have those disposable b/w cameras too so you could use that and use regular color film in your regular camera at the same time and do both.

Here is the same pic that you saw of Ryan already, but I left one color, changed one to b/w, did one in sepia and one in blue tint so you can see the difference. Oooh, brain flash: you can always just do color film then scan it high res or get the CD option when you get film developed (although it might be low resolution) and then just use shutterfly or one of those services to do what I just did. It took less than one minute!


11-07-2003, 02:58 AM
Hi Shannon-

Finally, a question I can help with! :) I'm so excited!

1) Velvet is a great option. 2 or 3 yards of whatever color you pick will be sufficient. Just so you know, velvet runs between 10 and 20 bucks a yard at Joann Fabrics. (Sign up at the store and they will mail you the flyer with coupons in it -- usually there is one for 50% off a single regular priced item. I think they somtimes put them in the Sunday paper ads too) Try eBay for velvets too.

2) Film speed will depend on whether you want to use a flash or not. Generally 400 is a good all-purpose film that will allow you to handle most lighting situations.

3) Film type -- here's where it gets tricky because you have a few more choices. You can either use a true B/W film (ie Kodak T-Max or Agfa Agfapan, etc..) or Kodak BWC Black and White Film (a "color" film that prints as black and white). (this link will show you what the BWC film box looks like http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=2/3/9/543/1094/1100&pq-locale=en_US)

I'm thinking that the Kodak BWC will be easier for you to use for a couple reasons: a) it gets around the higher developing expense because it is a C-41 development process just like normal color films, b) you can take it to your regular photofinisher for developing -- no special trips to a specialty lab, and c) reprints will cost the same as normal reprints.

4) Lighting tricks: My favorite thing to do is use window lighting or natural daylight on an overcast day. The shadows are much softer in this type of indirect lighting, and it is extremely flattering.

Another trick I've used when there is insufficient natural light is to turn on every single light source available to me. You can get away with this ONLY if you're shooting B/W pics (color film would pick up a wierd cast from the mix of diffrent types of light) I've gotten some extremely good portraits this way. (I have not done mixed lighting with the Kodak BWC film but from looking at the film technical specs, it *should* not have an effect -- but take this with a grain of salt anyway!)

The last bit of advice I have is to get a couple rolls of film, and have lots fun gettings pics of your darling baby!

HTH, Donna

11-07-2003, 02:30 PM
Can you post another picture of your collage? Can't find the last one...
Mommy to Caleb 3/3/03

11-07-2003, 03:43 PM
Yep, here it is!


And note that I just found a black frame and white mat set almost identical to what we used at Tuesday Morning for $7.99 - much less than we spent on the custom frame!

11-08-2003, 09:44 PM
Lori that is beautiful! What a wonderful idea.

11-08-2003, 10:43 PM
Thank you!! It wasn't our idea - we "stole" it from someone else, but it was still fun and a great hit at Christmas last year!

11-09-2003, 03:30 PM
both ilford & kodak make B&W print film that uses the basic commercial C-41 process machines, so you don't have to hemorrhage $$ on processing and wait an extra week. kodak's is "Kodak Select Black & White +" and Ilfords is (if i recall correctly -- i'm all out right now) XP2. i've been using the ilford since college (yeah 10+years) and been very happy with the results. it's about the same price per roll as color but you might have to get it at a photo shop. not sure if target has the kodak.

this means you can get it processed for $5.99 or whatever good price you can find at the drugstore, target, costco, one hour place, etc. occasionally you'll get a bonehead who sends it back and says "we can't do B&W" even though it says PROCESS C-41 on the label. make sure to put a note in the 'instructions' area.

if your processor uses kodak machines, you can also specify the 'toning' you want by looking at this chart: http://www.toycamera.com/images/t400.JPG
in my experience the 'default' can come back either very blue or very sepia, so it's good to decide what you want ahead of time & specify! sepia (middle left on chart) has a very nice, rich, antique look as long as it doesn't go too yellow. sometimes the 'true' b&w looks washed out.

11-18-2003, 10:55 PM
We have a digital camera so I can't help you with the camera/film questions but I was looking at a "taking pics of your baby" book at Borders this weekend and read about lighting. Like someone else mentioned, natural lighting is by far the best. They showed examples of both natural lighting and flash and it makes a huge difference. The best is to have the light coming in on one side of the baby, then you get a really neat shadow on the other side. This works really well in front of a big window or open door. (They even showed examples in the garage, but that probably won't work this time of year unless you are somewhere warm. Apparently, the light bounces off the driveway and reflects in). If you don't have natural light, you can use a light with a 100 watt bulb that the shade is tilted so the light is angled at one side of the baby - did that make sense...not sure how to explain it well.


Mom to Carter ~ 05.13.03

Jen in Chicago
11-25-2003, 09:32 AM
We loved your idea so much we made one too. Thank you for the idea. I got the frame at Costco for $23, and the prints there were $0.19 each. The prints were a bit darker than I would have wanted. I should have used the photo software to lighten them up, but they will look perfect on the wall at Grandma's.

Thanks again!

01-14-2004, 03:27 PM
Gave my mom a similar one for X-mas and she cried. Thanks for your help!


trying-to-conceive :)
mama to Jack 6/6/03

01-14-2004, 03:39 PM
That is really neat Shannon! I am not surprised it moved your mom to tears. Nice work!

01-20-2004, 11:31 AM
Shannon it came out great. Is that a Tuesday Morning frame?

I bought 2 exactly like it at TM for $20.

01-20-2004, 04:54 PM
YES! I went in before X-mas and dropped $150 on about 15 different frames. That's what everyone got for presents. Good tip.

trying-to-conceive :)
mama to Jack 6/6/03

03-01-2004, 09:38 AM
You've probably already done this, and don't need any help, but this is a warning for all future folks who want to dot this kind of thing:

if your photos show anything even vaguely risque (i.e. a naked butt) don't have them developed at Walmart! My dear friend had her husband take photos of her pregnant belly one picture a month for the entire pregnancy. All these pictures showed was belly. They took them to Walmart who not only did not develop them they destroyed the negatives! The photo manager said Walmart had a policy against pornography!

At the very least talk to the technicians who will be developing your film.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to Noelle (2 1/3)

03-02-2004, 05:52 PM
I was wondering about the "nakedness" factor and baby pics myself ... has anyone else had problems having photos developed?

I'm a little confused over the contraband belly pics, though. I can't imagine that Wal-Mart would have problems developing photos of tummys visible in two-piece swimsuits, for example ...

03-20-2004, 11:55 PM
If they dare wanted to say my pregnant belly was porn and then distroy once in a lifetime images I'd sue them...to accuse one of porn is pretty dangerous so I'd love for them to accuse me of that!!!!
Oddly I took a bunch of negative to walmart today to have them make me index cards for the rolls that I didn't have them on...one was filled with pictures of Tristan naked (his father day ones last year) and nothing was said and they developed them...
AKA "mama2be"-forgot password
and Baby Boy Tristan born @UNC
Feb 25, 2003
Brother to 3 pups "gees" and 2 kitties