Adding contrast in overcast conditions

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BenJT, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. BenJT

    BenJT Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    Location:
    Boston MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi everyone. So I generally shoot black and white with a yellow filter (y2) and I understand the effects it has in relation to the colors of a scene. What I am trying to figure out is what type of filter would help add contrast on overcast days with a snowy landscape, often times I find these scenes lack colors, or are mostly blue. Could a polarizer help or hurt? Is the yellow filter still a good choice under these conditions? Any help is appreciated, thanks guys.
     
  2. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,370
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the "classic" snow scene landscape filters commonly used is the #12 (Wratten), which gives a stronger effect than the #8 you are using (assuming you meant K2, not Y2). Of course depending on the lighting the differences might be subtle. A polarizer could give a different effect but difficult to predict.
     
  3. BenJT

    BenJT Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    Location:
    Boston MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks, the filter I'm using is actually labeled y2 and is made my telesor. I found it at a yard sale in a bag with a canon t70, so I'm going to guess its from the 80s-90s. Am I safe in assuming it is a k2? I think Ill look for a #12.
     
  4. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,202
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Your Y2 is likely a K2 or very close. There are a lot of designations from different manufacturers for colored filters, but the Wratten numbers are the standard.

    Finding a no. 12 filter is a bit more difficult, as they are less common. Furthermore, for the scene you describe, there will likely be no appreciable difference except the loss of speed due to the filter factor.

    For flat scenes with no strong color differences, your best bet for increasing contrast is to increase development or print on a higher-contrast paper. Filters only work when there are color differences. Polarizers are dependent on the presence of polarized light, which is in short supply on overcast days and subjects that do not reflect like mirrors. You can always look through the filter and turn it to see the effect. If you see nothing, then neither will your film.

    You can bracket a scene with a bunch of different filters to see if that helps, but I doubt it will do much. Try no filter, a yellow and then orange and red. You'll likely just lose speed due to the filter factor and not affect contrast that much.

    I find that ditching the filter in such situations gives me gratifyingly more effective speed and that developing N+1 gives me even a bit more.

    My recommendations: If you're shooting small/medium format and using an averaging or center-weighted meter, simply shoot away without filter and then use a higher-contrast paper when printing.

    If you are shooting LF, meter the brightness range of your subject and develop accordingly. In your scenario, an increase in development time to N+1 is likely. If you're not a Zone System user like me, you may simply want to use an average meter reading and then try adding 20% to your developing time for flat subjects such as you describe.

    Best,

    Doremus


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  5. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

    Messages:
    492
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Westerville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for the tips, Doremus. I need to explore increasing contrast on overcast days, with or without the snow. I'm wondering if exposure should be adjusted when development will be N+1. Increase a stop? Decrease a stop? I'll do some testing and report back.

    And here is a tip for exposing the snow: meter the snow, then open up two stops. In zone system parlance, that moves the snow from Zone 5 to Zone 7. I can't think of any situation where someone would want the snow at Zone 5.
     
  6. Tofek

    Tofek Member

    Messages:
    70
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2010
    Location:
    Paris
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Is this tip true for B&W reversal too ? Or will a two stop overexposure be too much ? I'm wondering since I will be shooting snow on reversal b&w super 8 film...
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,295
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the scene is fairly blue you can also try a red filter. It will definitely give the scene more contrast, but it may not yield the results you want either, as it may darken certain areas more than you want.
     
  8. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +1 what Doremus said. I couldn't have said it better, and so won't.
     
  9. BenJT

    BenJT Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    Location:
    Boston MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks for the advise guys, got a very helpful PM too, great community here.