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

  1. #21
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Daniel - Barnbaums's habit of placing shadow values atop the barn roof is about as counterproductive advice as I can think of. Where do you go from there? You've already taken up nearly half your straight line already. And that means that there's very little forgiveness at the upper end, and the only solution to a printable negative is gross minus development - the Zone System beaten half to death. Why even bother to meter to begin with if you have to fudge three stops of guess insurance? Playing it safe with a stop of so of extra exposure might make sense when in doubt, but Zone IV ?????? Ridiculous!!!!

    I personally like to get the threshold of shadows values above the toe a bit, and find that most Pan films need more exposure than box speed to do that. For example, I rate FP4 at 50. Only with TMax films do I find advertised film speed to work best. But all this is specific-development dependent, so another wrinkle that needs to be ironed out through personal testing.

    I also strongly disagree with metering through filters. Just look at the nm spectral sensitivity distribution for various meters. It's never a flat even line, but biassed. Testing for filter factors is easy. Just take the individual filters in question and do a bracket test with 35mm film aimed at a gray card in what you consider typical lighting. Use the factory tech sheet filter factors as a starting mid-point. Make sure your lens and the meter itself aren't aimed toward the sun and affected by flare. Filters do sometimes differ a little from batch to batch even from the same manufacturer, so do test exactly the filter you have in mind for your own kit. And of course, take a reference exposure without any filter at all.

    Comparing frames visually over a lightbox is probably adequate for most black and white purposes, though a densitometer reading will be more accurate. An old fashioned trick to make "visual densitometry" more accurate is to take a matte black thin piece of cardboard and paper punch, and punch two hole in the middle of it about two inches apart. Tape your reference exposure (no filter) to the light box and view it through one hole, and leave the other hole for slipping in your respective filter exposures with their bracketed filter factors. If your eyes are rested when you begin, relatively minor differences in density can be detected in this manner.

    Personal preferences and the aesthetic application of filters is another topic entirely.

  2. #22
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Casper Lohenstein View Post
    Simmons wrote that Hutchings was concerned with yellow, orange and red filters.
    Here’s a landscape whose sky I wanted to darken with an orange filter. These are the N. Cascades in Washington state at very high altitude under intense blue skies – which offered me a b/w filter non-linear metering experience. ;^)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Tachi 4x5
    Fuji A 240mm/9 (w/ orange filter)
    Neutral camera w/ 35mm front rise
    Ilford FP4+ (in D-76)
    Epson 4990/Epson Scan

    --Without filter, the sunny cliff (middle tones) were 12 ev, and the shadowy cliff was 11 ev.
    --With filter, the sunny tones dropped 1 stop (to 11 ev), but the shadowy cliff dropped 1.6 stops (to 9.3 ev). I remember this being a bit baffling. BTW, I was using my Pentax digital.

    After attaching the filter, I placed 11 ev on zone 5, so the shadow detail is preserved, somewhere in the middle of zone 3. The foreground shadows under the Larch trees, however, were mostly lost, but the highest values of the cliff were just captured. I didn’t know about Hutchings at the time, but I don’t think I needed his helpful factors for this shot.

  3. #23
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Casper Lohenstein View Post
    ...
    I assumed that blue is made darker by a yellow filter, while yellow is lightened...
    I prefer to think of it as a filter reduces the light coming into the lens, but with specific wavelengths blocked more than others. THEN I start thinking about which wavelengths (colors). So a yellow filter does not lighten yellow (does not add yellow light to the scene)...it just blocks the other colors more relative to yellow, but especially blocks its opposite (blue). I use a yellow filter for fall colors -- it reduces the exposure of all the other colors relative to the yellow leaves (so I give it an extra stop or two to bring all the other colors up to normal exposure levels, with yellows rising along with them.)

    All much of a muchness, but I just prefer to use language that matches what is happening. It helps me to understand what is going on when it comes time to apply it.

    YMMD
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #24
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Bingo! Although I had already been doing high-altitude LF color photography for about a decade, my first "school of hard knocks" experience with black and white film and contrast filters was in the Enchantment Range of the N. Cascades - which are not in fact really that high compared to the high Sierra I was accustomed to. I was in good shape back then, and made it clear up the 6000 ft of goat grade to Dragontail Glacier (now totally gone due to global warming), and even a bit onto the spiky "tail" of Dragontail Peak itself. The moon was rising just above its sharp summit in a deep blue sky. I had my Sinar 4X5, the early version of TMax 100 film, and exactly one contrast filter - a deep red 29. I applied the correct filter factor, but didn't yet appreciate the additional effect of blue in the shadows themselves. The resultant print is dramatic and effective, but a bit too dramatic or Ansel-ish for my own taste. Lesson learned. That 29 filter later came in handy with Bergger 200 8x10 film shots, which really digs way down there into the shadows. But for most other applications, a gentler pair of options consisting of a 25 red and 22 deep orange became part of my routine kit instead, along with a medium-dark green filter.

  5. #25

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

    In my opinion part of the reason a lot of people misunderstand filtration is because of the bad wording in a lot of books/explanations that seems to imply that a filter lightens like colors. Obviously a filter does not add any light. It can only attenuate light. I think it would help beginners if teachers said a colored filter passes its own color and blocks other colors, as a starting point. It is the addition of extra exposure indicated by the filter factor which ends up boosting like colors.







    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    I prefer to think of it as a filter reduces the light coming into the lens, but with specific wavelengths blocked more than others. THEN I start thinking about which wavelengths (colors). So a yellow filter does not lighten yellow (does not add yellow light to the scene)...it just blocks the other colors more relative to yellow, but especially blocks its opposite (blue). I use a yellow filter for fall colors -- it reduces the exposure of all the other colors relative to the yellow leaves (so I give it an extra stop or two to bring all the other colors up to normal exposure levels, with yellows rising along with them.)

    All much of a muchness, but I just prefer to use language that matches what is happening. It helps me to understand what is going on when it comes time to apply it.

    YMMD

  6. #26
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: The mysterious “Hutchings” filter factor for b/w landscapes

    Well expressed, Michael, speaking from the film's own perspective. I think AA confused a lot of people in that respect in his how-to books, overcomplicated the concept. Any added filter decreases the density of opposite hues in the film itself. What transpires during printing is the opposite - after all, it's a negative process!

  7. #27

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Daniel - Barnbaums's habit of placing shadow values atop the barn roof is about as counterproductive advice as I can think of.
    That's exactly what I think. Also concerning the rest of your explanations. - Besides, this was not invented by Barnbaum, but by Adams, as effective ISO instead of nominal ISO.

  8. #28

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

    Daniel,

    I think you're making things too complicated. If you find that using a certain filter with your in-camera meter consistently results in under- (or over-) exposure, just make a note of that and add that exposure back using the exposure compensation when you use the filter. Basically, that's what I do with all my filters.

    It seems silly to not meter through the filter when using a 35mm SLR camera with a sophisticated TTL meter. Sure, you can take readings and then set the exposure manually, applying the filter factor, but that kind of defeats the whole idea of small-camera photography in my view.

    FWIW, my approach to metering and exposure is very different with a small camera with a built-in meter than when shooting LF using a hand-held spot meter.

    With the latter, I read shadows and base my exposure on that (and read highlights and base my development on that). But, with a built-in meter, I just use the average reading as a starting point and then adjust that with exposure compensation for contrasty situations and for filters that don't give me what I want at the basic setting. It seems to me that you could do that as well.

    Keep in mind that, unless you're just shooting grey cards under controlled lighting, there will be a lot of variables when using colored contrast filters that make it difficult to exactly predict what the result will be. We've mentioned differences in the spectral responses of eye, film and meter. Add to that the color temperature of the lighting, uneven-colored lighting (e.g., shadows lit by blue skylight while the rest of the scene is lit by sunlight), and the distribution of colors in the scene. This latter can really effect your meter reading if you take an average reading through the filter. Imagine using a yellow filter in a scene that is largely yellow leaves lit by warm light from a sunset. The light passing through the filter will be almost the same intensity as using no filter at all. Contrast that with a scene with lots of blue sky and deep shadows lit by blue skylight; the amount of light blocked by the filter will be significantly more than in the first case. This is why blindly applying filter factors doesn't work so well; it will obviously give different results with the same basic unfiltered meter reading. Additionally, however, if you're reading through the filter, and your meter is less sensitive to blue than to yellow, you're going to get overexposure in the first case and underexposure in the second.

    The only way we can deal with this is to recognize and compensate. Testing is good, but you don't have to go overboard. It seems to me you have enough data to add the correct exposure compensation(s) to your filter(s) to get the results you want.

    Best,

    Doremus

  9. #29

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    Tachi 4x5
    Fuji A 240mm/9 (w/ orange filter)
    Neutral camera w/ 35mm front rise
    Ilford FP4+ (in D-76)
    Very handy and nice combination!


    --Without filter, the sunny cliff (middle tones) were 12 ev, and the shadowy cliff was 11 ev.
    --With filter, the sunny tones dropped 1 stop (to 11 ev), but the shadowy cliff dropped 1.6 stops (to 9.3 ev). I remember this being a bit baffling. BTW, I was using my Pentax digital.

    After attaching the filter, I placed 11 ev on zone 5, so the shadow detail is preserved, somewhere in the middle of zone 3. The foreground shadows under the Larch trees, however, were mostly lost, but the highest values of the cliff were just captured. I didn’t know about Hutchings at the time, but I don’t think I needed his helpful factors for this shot.
    So, here we go! +1.6 EV is your filter factor. The shadows will be good then. As for the highlights, you will have to develop a bit shorter. N-0.5, so about 10% - but only if the structured highlights are too bright, what is not the case here. If they are brighter than VII, you probably will develop even shorter anyway, with this kind of subjects.

  10. #30

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Daniel,

    I think you're making things too complicated.
    Of course, this is all very complicated. You're right! I just wanted to think logically through the matter.

    If you use a 35 mm camera, you are only marginally interested in the zone system. That's why I only set the exposure meter to 64 instead of 125 ISO with HP5+ and the 023 filter, and the TTL metering does the rest.

    If I use a filter at all. I think the beautiful mountain landscape above would also be interesting without a filter. You would have a gradation from the trees to the rocks to the sky when using a blue filter. Perhaps the rocks would have atmospheric haze and perhaps look more immense. While in the trees there would be more enveloping light instead of relief. It would simply be different images.

    I don't even compare contrast ratios with and without the filter. That is too much for me. I use the filter factors I've had good experience with and keep the structured highlights just under VII. I use HC110 H with moderate movement, which balances and also exhausts in the highlights. Actually, I realize with 9'00'' a N-0.5 development, that tells me my last test that I made once some time ago.

    I also think that it is possible to worry too much. But: if someone is interested in it, you can get into the matter. That's what the forum is for.

    Tschau zäme

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