View Full Version : Filters for LF black and white

Eric Woodbury
22-Jan-2017, 16:44
Just curious what y'all are carrying for filters. I shoot only BW. For large format, I use gels (or polyester). I carry 12, 21, 23A, 25, 29, 47, 58. That's yellow, orange, orange probably don't need both), red, deep red (to make skies black), green, blue. Never used the blue or green much, but now that I"m using some ortho film, I find them handy. Also, I carry a 0.9 ND when I need increased motion. I sometimes have a polarizer, but find I never use.

What about you? What are your favorite colors?



neil poulsen
22-Jan-2017, 20:21
I don't use that many filters. One that I like for darkening skies is a Wratten #12, a "Deep Yellow." It's one that Ansel Adams recommends in his books. It's a little darker than the common Wratten #8 that's the typical yellow filter is used.

I might use a polarizing filter once and a while. In fact, I should probably use that filter more often.

22-Jan-2017, 21:36
Yellow and sometimes red...or whatever I can find around here to fit whatever lens I happen to be using. The yellow sees most use in the Fall under the redwoods and such. I find the small bits of yellow foliage pop out nicely amongst the redwoods.

I tend to go light with skies. Just a preference. There is a tendency to replace the intensity of the blue color of the sky with a dark intense sky. Totally understandable. I tend to keep the sky values a little closer to their actual relationship to the light on the landscape and create an image best suited for that relationship.

Example: Umatilla Rock, Eastern WA, 8x10 platinum/palladium print. Yellow filter using Ilford FP4+. A red filter might have left the shadow area too dark. If I had beem using TMax400, I might have not used a filter, since TMax is not as overly sensitive to blue as conventional films.

PS -- I do not burn/dodge, so getting the light relationships the way I want them on the film is important.

Doremus Scudder
23-Jan-2017, 03:55
What I carry: #8 yellow, #15 Orange, #11 or #13 green, #25 Red, 80A blue (or Wratten #44 blue-green), a polarizer and a 900x ND filter. I have other gels as well as #47 and #58 filters, but don't carry these much at all (the latter two are actually for the darkroom).

What I use: Mostly I grab the #15 filter when in the SW or need a little punch in the skies. However, when at the coast, I almost always prefer the polarizer for skies and for attenuating reflections on the water (I rarely use fully-polarized, preferring some, but not too much, of the reflections). For an orthochromatic look I'll grab the 80A or the Wratten #44 (if I have the latter with me; they are gel filters and I don't carry them in the backcountry). In the city I'll often grab for the green or red, or even blue filter to add contrast to lettering on signs, darken or lighten paint colors, etc., etc. That's where I use the ND filter as well; it's good for making pedestrians disappear; a 30-minute exposure makes the place look empty.

That said, 80% or more of my photos are made without any filter at all. But, when you need one, it's good to have the creative possibility. FWIW, I like to travel light, and my field filter kit is a set of 67mm filters and a step-down ring, which all fits into a six-pocket filter wallet. It weighs very little.

I think judicious use of filters opens up a lot of possibilities for B&W that otherwise wouldn't be there. Overuse of filters, especially red to "dramatically darken" skies quickly becomes cloying. The best use of a filter is when you can't see that one was used.



David Hedley
23-Jan-2017, 04:42
I try to keep my back pack light, so tend to carry an orange, a polariser and an ND grad, in 67mm, and a 52mm orange filter for the 300mm Nikkor. The orange is used most of the time, and the others rarely. I have yellow, red, blue, green and other filters, but they sit in a box and are hardly ever taken out and used; someday I will use tricolour and those other filters will be needed then. I also have a basic Lee filters set up, with adapter, orange filter and lense hood, but for some reason I always found it easier to use a simple screw filter; perhaps I should try it again.

23-Jan-2017, 08:45
Sounds like the same filters that I carry. But in all fairness, 90% of my images are taken with a (#15) medium orange.
Still, have you read the AA story of his Half-dome image and red filter?

23-Jan-2017, 13:08

mostly I take yellow light (B+W 021, 8) or yellow (B+W 022, 12), sometimes orange (22) or greenish yellow (11).
But it depends on your preferences, so I would say: Take all the filters you have and shoot a roll of your most used film from your favorite subject.
I just did so for my old filters, and I learned a lot:



Graham Patterson
23-Jan-2017, 13:26
Yellow, yellow-green, green, red, polarizing, and an ND. I probably use the yellow-green or green the most. I have pretty much the same set of filters for most cameras. The large format kit is stepped to 77mm, and the medium format lenses get their own sets. I find the red and ND are definitely special purpose (haze and shutter speed control). Most of my filters are glass screw-ins, though I have a holder for squares.

I probably do 70% or more without a filter. So much depends on where you live and what you photograph. Nine months of California brown grass can be quite an influence. But at the moment it is all bright green!

23-Jan-2017, 13:39
Some older examples. The first is 4x5 TMax100 with a red filter. Pretty heavy filter use for me, but I was hoping the red filter would help tame some of the contrast between under the wharf and the sun-lit area. It seemed to work -- it printed onto Gallarie Grade 3, 16x20, pretty easily -- slight burning to even the sky on both sides of the wharf. I also burn under the wharf a little...sometimes it is good not to show everything...a little mystery, a reason to peer into the dark.

The second in a yellow filter on 4x5 TMax 100 -- again, perhaps a little heavier filtering than I normally do, but I thought it would help the clouds to balance with the face of the hills on the left. Again onto Gallerie Grade 3, 16x20.

23-Jan-2017, 13:47
yellow, orange, red