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Thread: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

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  1. #1
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    When using b/w filters for landscapes with important shadows, do you add a “Hutchings” filter factor in addition to your filter’s suggested factor (or alternatively, in addition to your thru-the-filter metering)?

    As I understand it, the Hutchings factor (after Gordon Hutchings: see Steve Simmons’ “Using the View Camera”) provides your filtered scene with some additional exposure – in addition to what you’ve already added due to the b/w filter you’re using.

    The reason is because shadowed areas typically transmit a higher proportion of blue light, precisely the type of light that yellow, orange and red filters can take away. The Hutchings factor puts it back in.

    This additional Hutchings factor can be significant. For example, you start with the filter’s suggested factor (or start with your thru-the-meter reading), and then, in addition:
    • Add an additional stop of exposure for filters #11 (light yellow-green), #16 (medium orange), and #21 (light red)
    • Add an additional 2 stops for filters #25 (medium red) and #29 (deep red).
    • It recommends no additional exposure for yellow or medium yellow filters.


    For me, depending on film type and personal tests, this method has indeed saved some of my b/w shadowy landscapes, but at the (often prohibitive) cost of putting highlights at greater risk, requiring some N-1, or N-2, or compensation development.

    Please share your ideas or experiences with Hutchings filter factors.

    Might they work for you?

  2. #2

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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    It shouldn’t put highlights at risk, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

    Technically the filter factor is meant to compensate for the kinds of things you are talking about under average conditions, so to me the Hutchings factors are kind of like additional “safety factors”.
    Last edited by Michael R; 22-Feb-2021 at 16:54.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    I already factored all that in...especially when I am planning on the shadows dropping. I check my meter, lick my finger & stick it in the air, choose an exposure, and wonder why my finger is wet. I call it the Hutchins Finger of Fate.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    I already factored all that in...especially when I am planning on the shadows dropping.
    Curious if you mean just the shadows are dropping, or the values of the entire scene are dropping, including the shadows, like high wispy clouds passing over the sun.

    Your moistened Finger of Fate may be a good predictor of breezes!

    BTW, for those who have a copy of Simmons’ “Using the View Camera,” there’s a good example in his “Steamboat Slough” photo from the Introduction:

    Simmons meters the darkest portion of the scene (for which he desires texture) directly through a #16 orange filter. But he says he didn’t add the additional 1-stop Hutchings factor for that filter, since he didn’t know about Hutchings factors at the time. The negative, he says, came out too thin for easy printing. He doesn't mention film type or choice of processing.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    Your moistened Finger of Fate may be a good predictor of breezes!
    If the finger get cold, I give the breeze the middle one and wait it out. Actually, decades of photographing in the redwoods where I never have exposures less than several seconds and usually in the minutes range, the hairs on my body detect the slightest whisper of a breeze (perhaps a few of those Bigfoot genes expressing themselves, eh, Drew?).

    But it really is not all that difficult. Slap on a filter, apply the factor, expose the film, develop it, go "Oh, shit, next time I'll add another stop with this film under these circumstances." and move on. A badly exposed neg is not going to crash the Mars lander.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Its all relative, depending on the filter color, colors present, and the needs of the process I'll be printing with (non-silver). Small shadow areas where I do not need detail, but are 'fogged' by the sky-scattered blue light can be "cleaned up" with an appropriate filter. This can let me print the next lighter values as rich textured blacks, strengthen by the pure black areas.

    But I rarely do so -- my use of a yellow filter tends to be more in the fall under the redwoods -- to lighten yellow leaves. Not a whole bunch blue light-filled shadows in the circumstance.

    Orange filter on this 5.5x14 from Zion (platinum/palladium work print)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Zion5x14.jpg  
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    I NEVER take a reading through a filter. That's voodoo because meters are not spectrally consistent in their sensitivity; nor are films. And even Fred Picker's tweaked spot meter had to be designed around a specific type of pan film, probably Tri-X. What I do is gray card bracketing on smaller more affordable roll film under repesentative lighting conditions (generally outdoors) for each specific film and contrast filter combination, then read the actual developed results with a DENSITOMETER. That's what gives me a true filter factor. It makes a real difference to do it scientifically this way. For example, two allegedly similar films, TMax100 and Delta 100 differ a whole half stop in green sensitivity. The published spectral sensitivity chart gives you a clue this is true, but an actual film test more accurately tells you the filter factor. Other details like hypothetical lens flare, internal bellows flare, mosquitoes flying around inside the bellows, blah blah, can be additionally factored if really necessary, but a decent lens compendium shade solves most of that kind of thing.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Do those long whiskers really grow just on the north side of your face, Vaughn?

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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    It's interesting to me how Drew and I arrive at the same general results through completely different means.

    I ALWAYS meter through the filter.

    Yes, I'm aware of the different spectral responses of meter and film. I do essentially the same thing as Drew (not as quantifiably though, since I don't have a densitometer), testing to find a read-through compensation for each of my filters and films and my Pentax spot meters (If I had different meters, I'd have to do this for all of them as well - good thing I only use one type of meter). This factor could be thought of as a kind of refinement to the "Hutching's factor." Mine consist of an exposure compensation for each filter and film combination and a development-time compensation if needed (stronger filters often do).

    This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds, since it's really only the rather strong filters that need much compensation and I only use a couple of films. Initially, I read the scene through the filter and make several negatives at different exposures. I try to choose a scene that has deep shadows lit by blue skylight for those filters that block blue. I'll then develop these at a few different times, keep good field notes and adjust as needed.

    So, for example, with 320Tri-X and a #25 filter, I'll add a stop of exposure and develop -1 to whatever development I normally would. I have factors similar to these for about five different filters. I find I can just read and shoot through a #8 filter, a #12 filter needs a bit of added exposure, etc., etc.

    Still, my method isn't perfect. However, despite the uncertainties of metering through filters, it's really the only way to have any quantifiable idea of how the filter will affect adjacent tones in the scene, e.g., green trees against a blue sky. One can guess that a green filter would darken the sky and lighten the trees, but often just slapping on the green filter results in a homogeneous merger of tones. I can meter sky and trees through different filters and pick the one that gives me the most separation.

    It seems futile to me to go through the Zone System visualization process of measuring values and placing them and choosing a development scheme and then just adding a filter to the mix without any idea (except past experience) as to how all those placements are going to be affected. Reading through the meter gives me some idea, however imprecise, and the compensation factors I generate even out much of the variance that would otherwise be present.

    Still, using filters introduces an uncertainty factor that we just have to live with, no matter what kind of methods we develop to compensate. When in doubt, err on the side of overexposure and bracket. Knowing your materials and their responses cuts down on the doubt.

    Best,

    Doremus

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    I use a lot of different contrast filters as well as different films, and seldom have a rude surprise. My personal filter factors work perfectly nearly all the time. The exception would be on those rare occasions when I happen to be experimenting with either an unfamiliar film or an off-brand EU film with less than ideal batch to batch quality control, or else when I'm out casually snapshooting with the Nikon and get too lazy to meter every single shot (I only trust the Pentax spotmeter, not TTL metering). But regardless of the specific methodology in play to obtain consistent results, there is simply no substitute for a lot of actual experience over a variety of relevant conditions. The kind of natural softbox light we get here on the coast when fog is active is an entirely different scenario than deep shade tonality issues under open sun once the fog moves out, or especially versus high altitude contrast scenarios. It's all fun, part of the overall challenge.

    I put the Zone System in the rear view mirror a long time ago. It's a nice communication tool to have somewhere in storage, but inevitably becomes its own ideological trap after awhile, just like an oversized bear trap used to snag Bigfoot hides for sake of log cabin floor rugs.

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