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Naughty or Nice: How I Cheated to Rescue My ‘Bad’ Black & White Photos

If you want to inject some ‘color’ to your black and white photos or simply to turn a really dull photo into something more interesting, try this idea.

I made a mistake when scanning a roll of black and white film recently. Instead of setting the scanner to the black and white mode, I left it at the color mode. I didn’t realize this until I’ve scanned half the roll. I was actually wondering why some of the photos had tints of magenta and light brown/orange casts.

I thought I processed the black and white film wrongly, like developing it for too long a period, or this was one of the unexpected side effects of shooting a 10 year old roll of Ilford Delta Professional 400 film.

When I discovered my mistake, I rescanned the entire roll at the right setting. It was then I found out how some of my boring black and white photos looked better when scanned ‘wrongly’. So I decided to scan it in color.

Intrigued, I searched the Lomo photo library and found some fellow Lomographers who also scanned their black and white photos in color. The results were fantastic. So, if you want more from your black and white film, do try scanning it in color. While not all photos will turn out ‘better,’ some photos will surprise you.

Yes, I’ve been naughty. I cheated. I had to use technology to save some of my otherwise dull photos. Haven’t you?

written by uncle_jay


  1. gauthierdumonde


    I do this often. Sometimes they come out just black and white, sometimes there are colorcasts. I also 'discovered' this by accident.

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  2. jetnz81


    Wow~ this look fun ^^ analogue always have surprise ya

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  3. alburnkat


    The result you get when scanner your B&W negs in color is no different than if you where in a darkroom and printed them on color photographic paper. So I would not consider it cheating if there is an analogue equivalent.

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  4. uncle_jay


    @alburnkat: Didn't know about that you could also do this in the darkroom. I have not tried darkroom printing before. But sounds like another thing that I would like to have a go at one day. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. wuxiong


    I also found the fotos interesting and some of the fotos are truly looking better. I also theoredically agree with @alburnkat
    , that you can achieve this coloring in your dark room pringting, because years ago I read it in a book. I haven't done any home color process . However, there is another way to paint some color on your b/w fotos. Sometimes I do it with a ready software, and you can easily change the colors. Of course this, I think, is something you can't do often. otherwise people will criticise you are not analogue....^..^

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  6. uncle_jay


    @wuxiong: Thanks! I agree with you too. I won't be doing this too often. And when I do, I'll be uploading the photos on another non-lomography blog. :)

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  7. totsytea


    Enjoyed the read - looks like a great idea! And hey, isn't golden rule number 10 "don't worry about any rules..." ;)

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  8. freelancer


    It´s caused by the scanner - because it tries to render out the orange mask of negative film.…)gative-mask

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, Italiano, 中文(简体版) & 中文(繁體版).