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Thread: Filters for B&W

  1. #41
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Filters for B&W

    One really only needs a few filters to get started. I often take long trips with only two contrast filters; never a polarizer. It's easy to overcomplicate this topic. Take your best educated guess, based on various experienced opinions, get only the filters you think you most need, practice with those, and take it a step at a time.

  2. #42

    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    Re: Filters for B&W

    Yeah...that's what I'm doing...I think a yellow and a yellow orange will be a perfect start. I am just not sure about the format (square/round).

  3. #43

    Join Date
    May 2015
    SooooCal/LA USA

    Re: Filters for B&W

    A big difference between round and flat filters is when you do a lot of night shooting or with very bright specular highlight shooting... Very bright points of light can reflect between filter and (usually) a flat element inside some lenses causing doubling of fine bright highlights on the film... This is made worse by the filter angle not exactly in alignment (with the slight tilt of the filter)... The filter mounting is critical in this application...

    I found this problem critical when using longer Tele lenses at night with distant pinpoint streetlights that could double or triple...

    Screw in filters of good quality minimized this...

    If I just had one B/W filter, I hope it would be a medium to dark green, as most films have a slight peak in green response, the green tends to create some extra separation in highlights, can make skies richer, lightens water and growth well even into the shadows, and is in the sweet spot for correction with the older lenses I use... Can increase apparent sharpness... And places the tonal scale within the printing range well...

    Steve K

  4. #44

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sonora, California

    Re: Filters for B&W

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    Yeah...that's what I'm doing...I think a yellow and a yellow orange will be a perfect start. I am just not sure about the format (square/round).
    Like Drew hinted...don’t overthink it. Filters aren’t really necessary and you may find that you rarely use one. So, Just get a couple high quality screw in filters for the lens you have and start making pictures. 55mm screw in filters are relatively inexpensive. I bet that if you asked in the classified section , you’d get some cheap or nearly free.
    Last edited by BradS; 9-Feb-2020 at 16:41.

  5. #45
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Marlton, NJ

    Re: Filters for B&W

    The way I think about filters, which I think Doremus was getting at, is in terms of adjusting (usually accentuating) contrast to make something stand out.

    For instance, if I want the clouds (if present) to be more prominent in a blue sky, I would use a medium yellow (low to moderate effect) or light red (stronger effect) filter. Since they take out some of the blue, they're going to make the clouds stand out more (the filter factor gets them back close to their original brightness, but the sky is left behind a bit since it's blue). Those are the only two I carry, in addition to a polarizer. If I were photographing sandstone out in Utah, for instance, I might want a green one too to increase the contrast of reddish stripes in the rock.

    Similarly if I want gray branches to stand out against green foliage, I'd probably use the medium red (23A) filter. That would darken the foliage relative to the branches.

    In other words, it's not a matter of how many stops you're lightening or darkening something. It's about increasing contrasts by taking advantage of color that is present.

    Note, shadows on sunny days are bluer than directly lit objects. Filters can darken shadows, too. You can use that to your advantage in some situations.

    Regarding polarizers, they're good for adjusting the amount of "specular" reflection (glare, in layman's terms) on shiny objects like water and leaves. No law says you have to rotate them to the maximum position; that can look unnatural. They will darken blue skies, but since the degree of polarization in the sky depends on the angle from the sun (maximum at 90 degrees) you have to use them with care. Polarizers are good for glare even on cloudy days since light reflected at small angles is usually polarized. They won't help the sky on cloudy days, though.

    Polarizing filter, sky in the picture, wide-angle lens: Choose any two. (You'll usually be OK with a 150mm lens on 4x5 in my experience.)

    ND grads, though practically a necessity with color transparency film, are not often necessary in B/W in my opinion. If you're willing to deal with a lower effective film speed, a pyro or other strongly compensating developer will tame almost any landscape + sky situation. Again, that is just my own opinion.

    Separately, if you're just beginning to accumulate gear, don't forget about a lens shade. I think they are at least as important as having some filters.
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?

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