Orthochromatic Film

It hasn't been so long ago that black-and-white films incorporated the term "pan" in their nomenclature. Tri-X Pan, Verichrome Pan, Plus-X Pan, or even Panchromatic-X were the names of films I used early in my career. The term "pan" stood for panchromatic (all colors) and was important because it meant that these black-and-white films were roughly sensitive to red, blue, and green light in equal amounts. As odd as it might seem, that wasn't always the case. In the 40s and 50s, black-and-white films were notorious for being most strongly sensitive to blue, green, and yellow light, with red showing up much darker than it ordinarily would. That explains why all the women seemed to be wearing black lipstick in black-and-white photos from that era. It also explains why red safelights can be used for developing these red-insensitive, "orthochromatic" films.

Once panchromatic films became available, ortho films lived on as a graphic arts tool, used to emphasize reds and de-emphasize other colors, and for scientific and medical applications. Ortho films aren't used for conventional photography, except as a creative tool. Here's how to approximate the effect in Photoshop.

1. Start with a photo that has plenty of reds, greens, and blues, like the one shown in Figure 7.25.

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