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Thread: Filters for B&W

  1. #1

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    Filters for B&W

    I'm a little confused about the ways to control exposure with filters when shooting onto B&W film.

    Are GND filters used in combination with B&W film? If so, what filters or types of filters do you use?

    Are polarizing filters used with B&W film? Think so, what do you suggest?

    I'm thinking that B&W film use different types of filters than color film, so maybe someone can explain that too and how to best approach the "filter gear" problem?

    I only have one lens now, the Fuji W 150mm f5.6 and I know I will likely go with a 90mm and 300mm at some point. I'm not a 100% sure these future lenses will have the same threads so I was leaning towards the square Cokin P rig. But I seriously don't know any better right now.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    ND, GND, Pols and color contrast filters are all used by B&W as are some UV filters and IR filters.

  3. #3

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    Steve Simmons Using the View Camera has a good chapter on what different filters can offer using B&W film. What you'll want depends a lot on foliage, the sky, and color of rocks as well as the ability to lengthening exposure times with a ND. If you want to use your filters on multiple lenses consider which size filter fits the largest lens you want to add to your kit and purchase lenses in that size, using step rings to fit your lesser diameter lenses. Another solution is Lee polyesters with gel-snap holders. There are other ways to cook this goose as well.
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  4. #4
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for B&W

    I occasionally use a polarizer with BW, mainly to cut down on reflections in glass or similar. My most used filters, though are a yellow/green or an orange filter. Mostly these are used to darken blue skies, but they can be used to increase the contrast between colors. A filter lightens objects of it's own color, and it darkens complimentary colors. For example, yellow darkens blue, green darkens magenta..... For instance, a red object and a green object look very distinct, because we see in color, but they might reflect the same amount of light. With BW pan film, in this situation, they will be the same color gray. One could use a red filter to lighten the red and darken the green, a green filter to do the opposite, or a less strong filter ...

    I don't use grads with BW, because they are expensive, fiddly, and there can be problems where the transition doesn't match the scene. I simply give enough exposure to get good separation in the darkest tones and let the brighter tones fall wherever. With good development, even very bright densities aren't a problem. (I scan. This might be more of a problem with optical printing.) This worked fine for me the other day with a hazy sun in the photo. Even that wasn't too dense to scan well. But if the range is crazy extreme, I would shoot two negatives, one optimized of the darker areas and one for the light, but I'm trying to remember when I last needed to resort to that....I can't.
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  5. #5

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    Read and digest this: https://images-eu.ssl-images-amazon....1x9LZAkTES.pdf It's the B+W Filter Handbook. Note that the numbers in parentheses after their filter number are the Wratten equivalents. When using filters with black-and-white film, just keep in mind that colored filters lighten the same colors as they pass and darken the others, e.g., a green filter lightens green and darkens red, etc.

    FWIW, I use a polarizing filter with black-and-white film often, it darkens skies without affecting shadows. I routinely carry yellow (#8), orange (#15), green (#11), red (#25), a linear polarizer (circular is not needed except with a beam-splitting mirror), and an 80A color-conversions filter. This latter is a way to approximate the effect of orthochromatic film with panchromatic film; a Wratten #44 is better for this, but only comes in gels (I have those too, but glass filters are easier to use in the field).

    I hate graduated ND filters and never use them. I'd only use a UV filter or "skylight" filter to protect the lens from mist or rain. Otherwise a #8 yellow does the job.

    Best,

    Doremus

  6. #6
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    Re: Filters for B&W

    I do occasionally use GND filters on b&w, especially with reflections where I want equal exposure and the reflection usually needs one stop extra exposure, and open skies which, especially since down here in the humid south, orange/red filters don't do nearly enough at times.

    It comes down to what you want to show and what the situation calls for. I used a polarizer yesterday to cut down on reflections on water and the blue sky. You'll probably have to try things to see what you like. A friend/mentor of mine uses no filters ever because he wants to photograph exactly as the scene is and not "modify" anything, which is his choice...even if I don't agree with him .
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  7. #7

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    Ok check it out. I shot these today. Now bear in mind, hand held my DSLR and scanned these. The actual negatives look better, but I just wanted to get these posted for you to look at.

    I also did some poor quality post processing.... See what I mean about the sky being blown out or just washed out. How can I control this? I'm assuming filters are what I need here. But what to use? GND filters seem to make sense to me, but I don't understand what other filters to use in this case.

    Also, look at the one image with the in close mountains. Why does the sky look molten?

    Anyway, what do you think? And how would you handle these conditions?

    Many thanks!!

    Adam

    P.S. I can't seem to upload the images....

    Anyone know the trick to uploading images?

  8. #8
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for B&W

    If the sky is blue, then yellow, yellow green, orange, and red filters will darken the sky, going in order from the least amount of darkening to the most. Orange and red will also darken green foliage.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
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  9. #9

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    What I don't understand is, when the sky is blue and 3 to 4 stops brighter than the foreground, will a yellow filter "correct" the exposure? Will the darkening of the blue frequency effectively balanceing the exposure? What I mean by balance is to reduce the difference between foreground to sky to 2 stops from say 3 or 4 stops. In this case, I need to darken the sky by 1 or 2 stops to balance the exposure. Am I making sense?

    If so, how many stops will a yellow filter bring down a blue sky? How about yellow orange?

    If not, how would you accommodate a 3 to 4 stop variance between sky and foreground? For me in Arizona, that's a normal day; a ton of sunshine!!

  10. #10

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    Re: Filters for B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    What I don't understand is, when the sky is blue and 3 to 4 stops brighter than the foreground, will a yellow filter "correct" the exposure? Will the darkening of the blue frequency effectively balanceing the exposure? What I mean by balance is to reduce the difference between foreground to sky to 2 stops from say 3 or 4 stops. In this case, I need to darken the sky by 1 or 2 stops to balance the exposure. Am I making sense?

    If so, how many stops will a yellow filter bring down a blue sky? How about yellow orange?

    If not, how would you accommodate a 3 to 4 stop variance between sky and foreground? For me in Arizona, that's a normal day; a ton of sunshine!!
    The filter will have the same filter factor (reduction) for the entire scene. If you want to want to balance the bright sky to the foreground you would use a graduated ND filter. That would let you selectively darken the sky to the rest of the scene.

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