B&W contrast filter - using yellow all the time

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by tkamiya, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I acquired a set of B&W contrast filters and been running some tests. Here are the parameters:

    Test subject: landscape including blue sky, white cloud, trees, lawn, etc
    Film: Tmax400
    Filter in use: None, Yellow, Orange, Red, Green

    Am I crazy in thinking, for landscape shots including sky and cloud, a yellow filter can basically be left on lens as default unless there is a reason to remove it? It enhanced the definition of cloud so much that the result is very pleasing to my eyes.

    Orange had little more effect but not as much as I expected, and Red even more. I was expecting pitch black sky with red - ala Ansil Adams but I didn't see it. He must use deeper red....

    Fully knowing there is no such thing as "standard", is there such thing as "common practice?"
     
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  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It's what I woud do for general landscape shots.

    pentaxuser
     
  3. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    First - I see that you are, like me, in Florida. The atmosphere here is filled with light-scattering humidity - we will never get dark skies as Adams did, regardless of filter.

    I shoot with a 100-year old lens that is uncoated, so I use a yellow filter almost all of the time. For you, I'd say try it and see how you like it.
    juan
     
  4. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    A red filter in conjunction with a polarizer will get you really dark/black skies.
     
  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I usually have a yellow filter on unless I want a different effect. i also keep my handheld meter set for one stop more exposure to compensate for it.
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Yellow filter it is... then. To me, rendering of blue sky looks more natural with yellow filter on, than not.

    Quite frankly, I expected more change between yellow-orange-and-red. I'm looking at the prints side-by-side. I see the difference but not as much as I thought. Is this what I should be expecting?? It almost seems having orange is a waste. I'd have to go from yellow to red to see enough difference.
     
  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have read that it is a good idea to leave a yellow filter on as though it was a Haze, Skylight or UV filter for black & white.

    I am considering doing that for the cameras that I only shoot black & white film. For the cameras that I switch backs between color and black & white, that might be a bit much.

    Steve
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    You are absolutely correct and have noticed what many photographers have noticed before. Within limits, your observations can be verified by photographic science (see attached).
     

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  9. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Back to my comment - here in Florida, we have lots of humidity close to the ground. If you are shooting a normal landscape, the sky you are shooting is not blue. No filter is going to affect it as much as a filter will affect a clear Western sky. Look at Clyde Butcher's Florida work. He uses lenses that are the equivalent of about 120mm on 8x10. He uses an orange filter. He uses the wide lens so that he can shoot the higher portions of the sky, the portions that are blue and able to be affected by the filter.

    Otherwise, a normal yellow filter will do about all that you can do.
    juan
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Juan,

    Funny you should mention Clyde Butcher's work because seeing his work at a local museum is what prompted me to play with filters..... I have few questions for you then. What do you mean the sky I am shooting is not blue? It looks blue to me. I actually picked a day that sky was blue to my eyes. I agree, our usual sky is composed of lower half being sort of hazy whitish bluish grayish part and more clear bluish top part. I am thinking when you say the light scattering effect of moisture, you are referring to the grayish, whitish, boring part.

    According to what I saw at the museum, he used orange and red most of the time. Nothing said anything about polarizers that someone else mentioned earlier. I wonder how he got his pitch black sky?? Would you have a guess?

    Ralph,
    I am "seeing" the graph... would you translate that to me as to what I should be reading from the graph??
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    The yellow filter 'converts' common B&W film to 'see' as humans do.
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Oooops. I was looking at the graph itself and didn't read the caption. sorry about that.....
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    One should decide if what one sees is what one wants the print to look like. With conventional films I will sometimes use a yellow filter, but often prefer a lighter value in the sky -- usually just off paper white. So unless I feel the need for a dramatic sky, I shy away from filters. With TMax I rarely use a yellow filter as it seems to better balanced in its response to light to match the human eye.

    I tend to use filters more to contrast shapes of different colors.
     
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  15. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I seem to recall one of the pre-WWII folders -- the Voigtländer Bessa, I think -- came with a yellow filter on a hinged attachment so it was more or less permanently with the lens. You could swing it down out of the way if you didn't want it, but it was always right there. As far as sky and clouds are concerned, some B&W films seem to do a tiny bit better than others, probably some spectral sensitivity difference. (Or maybe I shot some on days with less atmospheric haze.)
     
  16. hoshisato

    hoshisato Member

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  17. hrst

    hrst Member

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    True with TMAX films (http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/f4016/f4016.pdf page 14, spectral sensitivity curves), but not with all films. For example, HP5+: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20106281054152313.pdf (page 1), Delta 100: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/201062894918374.pdf (page 1). They have considerably lower blue response than green-yellow-red.

    Furthermore, there are different kind of yellow filters, regarding the cut-off wavelength and stop-band density. If you use a really yellow filter that filters out all of the blue, the result is very far from "what we humans see".

    So, yellow (or better: yellowish) filter converts a TMAX film to more like Ilfordish in the terms of color rendition.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Thanks for the graph, Ralph. Good information.

    I'd like to see a similar graph with a Wratten #11 filter. I've always liked it as a "general-purpose" landscape pix filter. Seems to act like a light yellow filter, but seems to alter greens a tiny bit more.

    I generally tend to like how unfiltered b/w panchromatic film renders things a bit differently than what our eyes see, so filters are the exception for me. I sometimes like ortho films for landscapes too. To each his/her own.

    To the OP, I'd always use a yellow filter if you always want to achieve what Mr. Lambrecht's graph shows.
     
  19. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    Not really, the charts aren't comparable. You see, Kodak's spectral sensitivity curves are made with exposure to daylight balanced light, whereas Ilford's are made with tungsten (2850°K) light. AFAIK, in order to make these charts, light passes through a prism and then exposes a piece of film. Different parts of the film are exposed by different wavelengths and they'll have different densities after development. Then the densities are read and you get the relative spectral sensitivity of the film at different wavelengths. Daylight has relatively uniform spectral power distribution throughout the spectrum, while tungsten light on the other hand is very different and has a lot of power in the longer wavelengths (towards red - IR). So, if the light you use delivers far more energy at the red end of the spectrum, it will definitely give a spectral sensitivity curve with a peak at the red end of the chart, while daylight would result in a curve with a peak at the violet - blue end.
     
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  20. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    My yellow filters are always on my lenses, only removed when shooting indoors!
     
  21. andres

    andres Member

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    For B&W I also always keep a light yellow or yellow/green filter on the lens.
     
  22. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Thank you everybody. I guess it's not a crazy idea after all..... I'm going to keep that as my "standard" for a while. So far, I like the results. Much better match to what I'd expect than without.
     
  23. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Anon Ymous

    You beat me to it. Yes, the Ilford graphs were done with a tungsten light source which explains the lack of blue exposure.
     
  24. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I have the data to prepare that graph. Just need to exchange the filter data. I'll get back to you.
     
  25. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    2F/2F

    Here you go: This is the raw data with yellow(Y8) and green(G11) filter.
     

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  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Interesting, Ralph. The #11 more closely and smoothly matches the shape of human vision in the graph. I never knew! Thanks again. More good information. (How do you do that, anyhow? :D)