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Thread: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

  1. #1

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    Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    I am looking how to create maximal contrast/tonal separation of subtle differences in green foliage in be photos.

    What is the best way of doing this, a green cutting filter? Other options? Examples would be great, if you have some photos...

  2. #2
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    Quote Originally Posted by l2oBiN View Post
    I am looking how to create maximal contrast/tonal separation of subtle differences in green foliage in be photos.

    What is the best way of doing this, a green cutting filter? Other options? Examples would be great, if you have some photos...
    Whenever I make the suggestion of creating a flatter negative with the intention of greatly expanding contrast with MC papers the old guard Zone System guys (which I am one ) come out of the woodwork and disparage the concept. Possibly the linked video may just demonstrate the idea in a more succulent manner. Good luck !! BTW, go with a orange or
    red filter rather than a green filter during the negative exposure.



    Real photographs are born wet !

    www.PowerOfProcessTips.com

  3. #3

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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    There are numerous things to try, depending on the exact situation, to get more separation. In flat lighting, your best bet will be to increase overall contrast somehow, either by increasing development or printing on a higher contrast grade paper/filter setting. Steve's approach will work here too.

    If (and sometimes this is a big "if") there is enough color contrast, then judicious use of filters can help quite a bit. Any uniformly-colored foliage won't respond well to a colored filter; there's no different color to filter out. However, if there are lighter and darker greens, or some changing foliage that's yellow or red, these can be lightened or darkened by using the appropriate color filter. Keep in mind that green foliage is really a lot more than just green; there's a lot of red and yellow in there too (what shows up in the fall after the green chlorophyll goes away...) and that filters may not always have the intended effect.

    Lighting is key to increasing contrast/definition. If you are shooting still-life, then you control this. If you are outdoors using natural light, then you may have to wait till the lighting is optimum.

    Bottom line: every situation will require its own tailored solution to bring out the result you want. You have to have a bag of tools and know how to use them (and when not to as well).

    Best,

    Doremus

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    Ditto. Green in nature isn't green! It's a complex set of hues which varies widely, with even transmitted light having a different effect from reflective surface color. "Green" foliage even reflects quite a bit of red light. Just look at what infrared film does with it. I recommend carrying a selection of filters, and viewing through these. Of course, actual pan films see things a bit differently than we do, and even a bit differently from one another. At least it's a starting point. I use red, deep orange, lt orange, and even a deep 47 blue sometimes. A strong green just makes foliage look paste-like if you're not careful, though they're valuable for differentiating red tones.

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    Angus Parker angusparker's Avatar
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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    I'd try out your typical B&W filters - red, orange, yellow (and possibly green given the caveats above) and see what to the eye on the ground glass gives the best separation. As a rule of thumb I find deep red too much, and generally avoid straight red as well. Orange and Yellow usually give me enough contrast without looking unnatural/weird. You can always boost the contrast at the printing phase with more filters on MC paper but it's best to get what you can at the film shooting phase. I generally like to develop film at N adjust more at the shooting and printing phase. Your mileage will vary!

  6. #6

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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    I've used a #11 green filter in the (Eastern) springtime to brighten the new leaves and darken the sky a bit. Very effective, although I have no examples digitized that I can post. I have the sharp-cutting (and very dark) #58 but have never tried it (not really finding a need for it). In fact foliage is of low saturation generally, and of course different plants have different-colored leaves, so some enjoyable experimentation is in order.

  7. #7

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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    i usually employ good old orthochromatic film when photographing predominantly green subjects. Exposed and developed normally they produce very good separatoninthe greens.

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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    i usually employ good old orthochromatic film when photographing predominantly green subjects. Exposed and developed normally they produce very good separaton in the greens.
    I agree! Ortho film often gives a very satisfying rendering of foliage; lighter and more luminous shadows. To achieve this with panchromatic film, a Wratten #44 (or #44A) filter is the one you want. It eliminates all red (it's cyan in color). Unfortunately, these come only in gels.

    The next best, for me, is an 80A color correction filter (or 80B - not quite as strong). These give an ortho look and are readily available as glass screw-in filters.

    Another tool for your tool box.

    Doremus

  9. #9
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Maximum contrast/tonal separation of green foliage in bw? Suggestions? Examples?

    You have received excellent advice here.

    Time for my humbler. In my early days I had framed a section of fir trees and chose a green filter to raise the shades. Duh! Silly teenager. They were largely blue!

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