This is my friend Kinsgley, as we were back in 1965, looking at the side of St Paul’s Chapel from a window in Schermerhorn Hall at Columbia University in New York City.
He was a student there and his father was on the faculty with an office in Schermerhorn Hall; in a tiny closet with a stone sink, we were allowed to make a small darkroom. At the time, it was the only such facility available to us and every day after work and after the professor had left for the day, we would be there developing film, making prints and much of the other stuff college age students did when no adults were around.
Kingsley lived nearby on 109th Street but I was living in New Jersey and had to make the trip into the city each time we met to work on photography. I was working at a variety of non-photography jobs and would go from work to the city, spend the entire night in the darkroom, get home to grab a few hours of sleep and then head to work. Nights at the darkroom were pretty regular, the jobs…not so…
One morning at sunrise, Kingsley was staring blankly out the window and I was staring blankly into a viewfinder. I don’t even remember the camera except from the negative size, it was 2 1/4 square format. I came across the negative while rummaging in the archives.
This image is produced from a color negative. I have no idea of what kind of film it is; the markings on the edges just say “Kodak Safety Film”. Like all Kodak color negative film, the base has a heavy orange color. My flatbed scanner wasn’t doing a good job of converting it to a positive so I decided to scan it as if it were already a positive and to do the conversion in Photoshop CS5.
Here’s the original ‘contact sheet’ straight from the scanner. We were developing our own color negs at the time which might be the cause for the variation in the density of the frames. I cut the single image out and moved it to its own file so that I could concentrate on the adjustments needed for it alone. To get to a color positive from here:
- Add a Curves Adjustment Layer, select the White Point dropper and click on an area of unexposed film, showing as clear orange. This should remove the bulk of the orange from the image.
- Add a second Curves Adjustment Layer and this time drag the lower left point to the upper left corner and the upper right point to the lower right corner. This will invert the image and a positive will appear.
- Add a third Curves Adjustment Layer, select the Black Point dropper and click on an area of unexposed film, now showing as black. This will remove any remaining traces of color from the unexposed areas.
- This should give you a fairly good starting point for color adjustments, etc.
My negatives were in rough shape. Dust and scratches are the norm, so a bit of work with the Spot Healing Brush Tool is required. The good news is that it does a far better job than I was ever able to do with a spotting brush.