Skip to main content

Black and White Kodachrome Processing

This past week I read an article about a photographic exhibit called Memory City which explores Rochester New York (Kodak's headquarters). In the article it was mentioned that some photos were taken with Kodachrome and processed as Black and White. I remembered I had an old roll from around 2009 that though exposed never made it to Dwayne's in time before the last rolls were developed.

I researched on-line how to process it. Most examples I saw used D-76 developer and recommended at least 1-2 stops overexposure. The exposed film I had was shot as box rated and I do not have any D-76 and did not want to purchase any. I failed to find anyone who used LC29 (Ilford) on Kodachrome. I noticed the development times were generally extra long compared to black and white so I too a recipe for TMAX and LC29 and extended the development time. In this case I used 7:30 minutes as 22 degrees C. The developer came out dark gray presumably from the remjet backing coating. After stop and fix the film came out very yellow/orange owing to the yellow filter layer I believe. The remjet that was left came off very easily with a wet sponge. Many writers complained of the difficulty of this step. I did not even have to use the suggested washing soda solutions.

There was also very little contrast in much of the image with a low level of developed silver except in the brightest parts of the scenes. I think this could be improved by over-exposing the film. In any case a typical result looked like this.
Devil's Punch-bowl Eagle Creek Oregon after B+W development
Since I told the scanner to scan a negative I got this...

Inverted version
Conversion is Photoshop Elements to B+W was challenging as the colors correspond to different gray levels. Red was associated with lighter shades and blue with darker. A satisfactory conversion left a dark but I thought stunning image.
Converted in Photoshop to B+W
Could I print this in the darkroom? It looked difficult. First a test strip at f11 showed no image in either #5 or #00 filters up to 64 seconds. I opened the enlarger up to f4.5 and only at the extreme end of one test strip was there the faintest image. The film was very close to the color of a safe light I theorized. So I removed all filtration and f4.5 exposed the MGIV RC paper for 4 minutes. The following is the result.
B+W print on Ilford MGIV RC Deluxe
The series of dark patches along the bottom I think are the 35mm sprocket holes reflecting off the easel as they were not masked properly. It has a slightly solarized effect owing to the orange sections though darker are where the paper is less sensitive. I tried some old graded paper but after 4 minutes there was still not image. What is needed is panchromatic paper.

An interesting experiment but the results are not terribly satisfying.