Always use contrast filters for B&W?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by MikeM1977, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    Lately I've been shooting without any contrast filters. Anybody else do the same?

    I've been told that I should always have at least a Yellow #8 for outdoor B&W photography...

    I have filters...I'm just not a fan of dealing with the hassle (extra exposure calculation, etc) and that it didn't seem to make my prints any better.
     
  2. Terence

    Terence Member

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    With rare exceptions, I usually have a yellow (handheld), orange (bright handheld or tripod) or red (tripod) filter on my cameras.

    On a cloudy day or dark lighting conditions (caves, etc) I'll forgo the filters.

    I've been told I'll grow out of it, but I like contrastier prints as a general rule.
     
  3. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Most of my 35mm shooting is without filters. It's the nature of the subject since most of my 35mm subjects are candids or off-the-cuff pictures. When I shoot medium format, it's mostly of more studied subjects and I almost always use some type of filter.
     
  4. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I don't use them for most of what I do, but there are times when altering the tonal range of a subject calls for one. I always have a variety on hand when I go out, but I don't find that I use them very often. I think it depends a lot on your subject matter really, rather than some general 'rule'.

    - Randy
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Depends on the film.

    I've found that FP4+ looks OK without a filter, while APX100 really needs a yellow for outdoors shooting.
     
  6. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    For me, it depends on my visualization of the final print and I always ask myself what a filter will do for the final product. They don't always come into play, at least for me anyway. I agree with Randy's comment that it greatly depends on the individual values within the subject matter. I try to view the scene looking to prevent those important values from merging and to then plan exposure (with or without a filter) and development accordingly.

    Chuck
     
  7. colivet

    colivet Member

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    Filters are to be used for a reason. So shoot without them and with them and see what the difference is.
    It depends on a lot of factors. In my work I was suffering from white skies all the time so I was using a yellow orange filter and that helped. Later on I decided to try Tmax 400 and that film does not need a filter for proper tone in skies, so now I don't use one. I may use it if I want more contrast on close ups with texture or such where there is no skyes.
    Sometimes you want clouds to look bold, so a yellow, polarized, or combination of both filters might do the trick.
    The one thing to know is that it really is something personal and you will get to know when to use and when not to use a filter with lots of practice. I many times make more than one exposure with or without and decide later in the darkroom which one is the better one.

    Good luck!
     
  8. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Doesn't using a filter slow down the speed of the film?
     
  9. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    I very rarely use contrast filters unless I really want some serious effect. About the only filters I use a lot is my ND filters. I have a fetish with moving water and they come in really handy.
     
  10. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I would consider the speed of the film fixed; filters simply withhold light that enters the lens so a filter factor is applied to compensate for that reduction of light transmission by the filter. The factor itself is based on trying to maintain a middle gray negative density on a middle gray subject within the scene.

    Chuck
     
  11. photographs42

    photographs42 Member

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    I fully agree with Randy (and others here). I think the important thing is that, like the other tools at your disposal, you know what effects the various filters have and can therefore choose when and why you need or want them.

    “I've been told that I should always have at least a Yellow #8 for outdoor B&W photography...” Any statement that has the words “always” or “never” is usually wrong or at the very least, suspect.

    “I have filters...I'm just not a fan of dealing with the hassle (extra exposure calculation, etc) and that it didn't seem to make my prints any better.” If you have made a commitment to your work, “dealing with the hassle” shouldn’t be a part of the experience. If your vision calls for a filter and you determine it’s too much bother, why make the image at all?

    Like Randy, I seldom use filters, but when I do it’s because I need it for a specific purpose.

    Jerome :smile:
     
  12. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Contrast filters and Polarizers are like credit cards: very useful at times, but better not used unless necessary.
     
  13. photographs42

    photographs42 Member

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    I like it!
    Jerome
     
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Not really. It's based on the need to maintain the same negative density for any neutral tone, black, white or grey.

    I make this point not to be contentious but merely to reinforce the points that 'middle grey' has no relevance to ISO speeds for negative film (which are of course based on shadow detail), and that 'middle grey' has no meaning whatsoever as applied to negative density.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Hear! Hear!

    I often like the effect of a medium yellow, and I normally use a light orange on my 200mm -- but I also shoot lots of B+W with no filtration whatsoever.

    In particular, there is rarely much reason to use filters in low light, or of course indoors. All they do is sap speed to no advantage.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  16. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Roger, all smiles here, so I'll respond to your comment for further clarification, but I don't want to be part of a hi-jacked the thread, if possible. If you want, we can debate in PM's if you disagree so I won't respond further on the subject in this thread. :wink:

    I'm not sure that I implied that there is a correlation between middle gray and ISO speed for negative film, or that middle gray has a meaning that is particular to negative density. I mean, the middle of the gray scale certainly does have density. I think we can agree that negative density is relative to the degree of exposure, filter or no filter.

    I was trying to imply that: If one was to place a "neutral tone" such as an 18% gray card (middle gray) within the scene, then photograph using a filter and applying the filter factor, then it is presumed that the factor will supply the appropriate compenstation to provide a negative density to return a middle gray print value back to the gray card.

    It should be apparent then, that if the factor is not applied when the gray card is within the scene, then the gray card (or any other neutral tone) will be rendered on the negative without enough density to faithfully return the appropriate print value back to the card as middle gray.

    My original statement is meant to mean all that without actually saying all that, and I think that it does as I certainly don't want to confuse the person that I am responding to. Although, it is certainly possible for confusion to abound when the proper words are not chosen to convey the best of intentions.

    Thanks,
    Chuck
     
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Chuck,

    I was in no doubt that you knew all that, and I apologize for implying otherwise. I had originally written something to the effect that "You know all this, but..." I deleted this because it sounded a bit patronizing and that was my least intention.

    It was simply that a lot of people do make those assumptions, or indeed may be assured of them, so I thought a little reminder in the thread might be a good idea. No more than that!

    Once again, my apologies.

    Cheers,

    R.