B & W Filters......Which ones to use?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

I'm new to B & W film and so far my pictures have turned out pretty good. My question tho is what filters should I use to enhance my work. I do alot of outdoor shots and would like for there to be more clarity in the sky (clouds, can't see them)and more of a warm feeling when shooting people. Any info of tips would be greatly helpfull. The film I currently use is T-Max 400 if this makes any difference. Johnny

-- Anonymous, April 27, 1997


Johnny, Checkout any one of Tiffen, the filter mfg. pages, they are very helpful. If you have yahoo, type in tiffen then search. See ya, Bob

-- Anonymous, April 27, 1997

filters for B&W

Do go to the tiffen site, but here's also a brief overview of a few useful filters for outdoors with a few caveats and tips:

Colors: Recall that the net effect of using colored filters will be that objects the same color as the filter will become lighter in your print (darker on the neg), while those the opposite on the color wheel will become darker. The more saturated the filter, the more exaggerated the effect. #8 yellow: small to moderate effect, darkening blues, lightening yellows. Good for "normal" separation of blue sky and clouds w/o overly darkening the sky. #15 yellow: a more dramatic effect than the #8 yellow. #25 and 29 red: dramatically darkens greens. Good for separating red flowers from green leaves, with effect of light flowers on dark leaves, for instance. (#29 more dramatic than #25). Will also darken blue skies a lot.

Recall that things *illuminated* by blue light (e.g., the sky) will also be affected by your filter choices. Shadows and foliage lit by skylight can be more greatly affected than you might expect, especially at high altitudes where the light is blue-er. Also notice whether greens are more yellowish or blue-ish...those two will be affected differently by a yellow filter.

polarizer: when adjusted correctly, will darken blue sky so clouds pop out more, w/o changing color balance of other things. Extremely useful for removing/reducing glare from polarized light on water, leaves, metal, glass, etc.

neutral density filters: used to cut the brightness of the scene overall w/o changing tonal relationships within the scene, e.g., so you can use a longer shutter speed than otherwise needed (to smooth out water flow, for instance), or simply to bring you into shootable shutter speeds if it's a very bright scene or you want a wide aperature. (This "dimming" effect can be had with a polarizer or dark colored filters, but with their additional effects on the polarized light and colors in the scene, respectively.)

Final note: Be sure to use the "filter factors" correctly to adjust your exposures w/each filter. If you meter through the filter on your lens this will essentially take care of it. If you use a separate meter, you'll need to adjust for the filter factor (the documentation w/the filter will tell you what the factor is).

Happy filtering!

-- Anonymous, April 27, 1997

The previous posts summed it up very well. Regarding "warming" the scene, however, that will have to be accomplised by paper, developer, and toning selection. (Unlike color where it is done with warming filters, warm films, or warm lght). It can be quite dramatic and helpful in people pictures. Suggest starting with and commercially available warm papers (agfa, Forte elegance, Portiga, Ilford , kodak all make warm papers). Try mild selenium toning , about 1:20 for 2 to five minutes, for just a subtle warmth. Too much in my opinion becomes obvious and overdone, and builds up shadow density too quickly. Just a tad will make a world of difference. Any good lab will do this for you if you don't darkroom yourself.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 1997

Well, if you want "more of a warm feeling when shooting people", by going for a warm colour in the final print, the last reply is reasonable.

But if you mean by changing tonal relationships, such as darkening skin tones, you can do this with filters. For example, caucasian skin tones are darkened with green filters. This may, however, empasise any red pimples. Conversly, yellow or red filters will lighten caucasian skin.

When you use filters, remember that B&W film sees converts colours into tones differently to the human eye. In particular, human eyes are highly sensitive to green & yellow. These tend to come out darker in photographs, unless you "correct" for this by using a yellow/green filter.


-- Anonymous, August 04, 1997

Moderation questions? read the FAQ