Do you use filters...?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Helinophoto, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    When I am out shooting landscape with black and white film, I often bring my #25 red filter and sometimes also use a polariser with it as well, aiming for those black skies.

    However, I rarely do get black skies (only with IR-film), maybe a bit darker skies, but never black. :sad:
    - How do you obtain those pitch-black skies? Do you use a particular film?

    Also, I don't own any other color-filters (they are expensive in 77mm size), but do you guys use/recommend other filter types when one is out shooting?
    Do you use color-filters with studio lights and black and white film for example?

    With people, I prefer darker reds (lips) on the subjects.

    What is your filter-secret....? =)
     
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  2. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    I will sometimes use a grey grad filter to tame a particularly bright sky. My personal choice for skyscapes is a yellow and pola.
     
  3. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    Filters will adjust the contrast - I carry a yellow, orange, red, yellow-green and polarizer. When shooting a landscape, the yellow provide approximately the same amount of contrast as your eyes do, the orange more contrast and the red the most. However, each makes changes that you need to be aware of (a setting sun appears a lot more orange/red than a noon sun so a orange/red filter will lighten those skies somewhat as opposed to darkening a noon sun which is more blue). It is best to study colour theory and books on filters as it really does help - the question is, what you want the photo to look like and then determine the filter to use from there.

    You have also have to realize, for a lot of photographs with truly black skies, either infrared film is used or there is significant burning in the darkroom occurring. Even with a dark red filter, most films will not register a dark black sky on a straight print.
     
  4. coigach

    coigach Member

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  5. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I generally carry yellow, orange, green and red, the yellow probably being my most used. I have polarizers but don't use them much except for specific reflection problems (low use being embarrassing considering what they cost!) Dark sky also has a lot to do with time of day, weather and direction. I've had shots looking directly away from the sun in late afternoon on a crystal clear, low humidity day where unfiltered color shots look as though there was a polarizer used. With B&W I like yellow or occasionally orange just to bring out clouds a bit, bringing down the sky a little in the process.
     
  6. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I've used a #25 filter + a linear polarizer to get the "day for night" effect used in classic b&w cinematography. It works best on a clear sunny day. The result looks as if it were shot on a clear night with a bright full moon.
     
  7. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    I used to think that white skies in landscapes were an unforgivable sin, but then I saw Cartier-Bresson's landscapes. Now I only use filters in medium format, and only very sparingly. A red #25A or #29 filter does much more than just darken the skies, it changes the entire tonal structure of the scene. More often than not I find the effect unpleasant and go for something lighter, even if that means washed out skies.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also use a red and a polarizer to get a very dark sky.

    Jeff
     
  9. Vincent Brady

    Vincent Brady Subscriber

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    In Ireland I'm inclined to use an orange filter but when I was in Spain (brighter and stronger sunlight) I found that the orange filter made my skies too dark so I switched to yellow. So I guess it depends on where you are located in the world. I should say that I don't like dark skies except in IR photography.
     
  10. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I think the "where you are"( latitude) and the season make a big difference. The OP is in Norway but even here in the U.K. which is a little further south I have never managed black skies or even got remotely close to this effect with a polariser and a 25 red with non IR film

    OP I don't know if 7Dayshop exports to Norway but it has some very cheap filters even at the size you mention.

    pentaxuser
     
  11. kevs

    kevs Member

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    I use a red 25a filter for almost all my black and white landscapes, but I've never had really dark skies unless under cloud or at night. I like the detail the red brings out in skies etc but I don't really like the 'black sky' look - it's too artificial for my liking. YMMV.

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    A polariser with a red filter? Oh my... I would be concerned about heavily compromising the imaging integrity of the lens with that set up.
    You're in Norway, but didn't mention whether you favour the summer or winter months; I imagine winter is way too dark (and abysmally long...) and summer provides richly hued blue skies and prrrrrrrretty sunsets. Well I hope so! I'm going there in a couple of years!!
    I have traditionally used just a red filter and concentrated on that part of the sky that is darkest blue. A polariser is used when I don't have a large area of sky so as to avoid any partial polarisation. You could also hand-meter the sky and give it -2 stops or darken the sky as you see fit in the darkroom.
     
  13. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I use a red R60 filter with a polarizer on occasion to darken the sky. It admittedly looks unnatural, but looking natural is generally not that high on my list of pictorial imperatives. There is also the problem of uneven effect due to the angle of the sun, although that can sometimes be remedied by burning in the lighter part of the sky when you print he picture. I find it easier to get the black sky effect by having the main subject matter evenly lit with direct bright sunlight. It never occurred to me that it would be more difficult in the higher latitudes, but that seems to make sense.
    105090-14.jpg
     
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  15. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Thanks for the tip. =)
    Unfortunately they only ship to the uk (I was droolling over some neopan 400 film they had, but the drooling turned into tears when I knew they didn't ship here :smile: )
     
  16. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I've used pola + gradfilters (the square ones) on my digital camera earlier, without any ill effects, so I'm not too concerned. (the filters I have now are indeed very nice). The biggest problem is keeping the filter-stack clean and free of internal glare.
    You're right about the season, the winter is long and pretty dark (You have a few hours of "normal'ish" light in December/January between 10:00 and 15:00. I think the sunset is around 15:00 in December anyway, even in the south of Norway). A good thing about that, is that you can wrap up your average coastal landscape shoots early and be home at a reasonable time ^^ The more or less constant low sun, a long with winter haze can give the light a softer quality as well, this can be nice for outdoor portraits and such.

    I often think the summer-sky is a bit too washed out in color some times, you need to shoot in the opposite direction to get some good color in there during the day, or use a pola to bump the color a bit.
    - Sunsets are nice though, but remember that the air is often very dry and clear here, even in the summer. The sunsets with the sun in the picture tend to be pretty "sharp" until the sun hits the horizon, this creates a real need for graduated ND's to balance things.
    I often try to wait until the sun is obscured/partially obscured to even things out: http://www.helino-photo.com/p259360479

    Thank you for the tip =)
     
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  17. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Filters effect vary for orthochromatic and panchromatic films.
    You need a hood along with the filter/filters in order to have repeatable results.
    If Your camera meters through the lens.. there might be surprises.
    For B&W its useful to have blue, yellow, green, orange, red, IR, polar and most importantly a hood :smile:
     
  18. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    This is 95% of the answer.

    To obtain black or near black skies I need the above conditions to be just right, then it's an orange and polarizer stacked together. A red and polarizer would be even greater effect but you lose too much shadow detail. I meter through the filter stack, or if I'm in a hurry just dial in +3 stops of compensation.
     

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  19. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I rarely go for dark skies -- don't usually care for them.

    But I usually have a yellow with me in the Fall -- to brighten up the fall leaves...
     

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  20. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Wouldn't leave home without my (too) many filters. One has to expirement and learn how to use them to achieve the desired results, which includes not using them.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    The other 5% is "Do I have the filter with me or did I forget it at home?" :laugh:
     
  22. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Haha.. Exactly!! Or you left the step up ring at home!
     
  23. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I carry in my bag a Cokin red, green, linear polarizer, adaptor rings and the holder. When I shoot landscapes, I use the red or the polarizer when I want to darken the sky. Saves burning in the sky in the darkroom sometimes. I shoot mostly BW film.
     
  24. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... or brought the wrong size step-up ring. After doing that once I just started buying filters in the correct sizes and not trying to economize by using step-up rings.
     
  25. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Allright, I put together a little test, based on the tips and ideas in this thread.

    I just got my 100 ft Fomapan 100 bulk film loaded and ready and thought i's give it a go with a limited film-strip, to check the following:
    - How various filters (the ones that I own anyway) influence the sky (with this film)
    - Try HC-110 with Fomapan 100 (something that is "not recommended" for more reasons I care to remember)
    - Try out n+2 development with said film, to see how it fared.

    I metered, to the best of my ability, the darkest parts of the sky to zone III, the highlights were then at zone V (I used my Canon 1v's spot-meter) and took a photo without filter.
    Metered again with a Hoya #25 red filter on and took another photo.
    Then I mounted my Polarization filter on-top of my red filter, metered again and took another photo.

    For development I googled around and found 8 minutes at EI 100 for foma in HC-110 dilution H to be a good starting point. (I've never used HC-110 with Fomapan 100 before).
    I then added 25% to that time, to get to a theoretical n+1 development.
    Then I added another 25% to that time to get to n+2 development. (12,5 minutes)
    (This was a guestimate, I have no idea of it was correct, because I don't own a desiometer)

    The reason why I shot this for a n+2 development, was that I wanted to keep the darkest parts of the sky and the clouds _dark_ and use the development process to pull up the highlights, as per the zone system (or the maybe the bit simplified one that I use).

    I then developed the film for 12 minutes 30 seconds, 1 minute continuous agitation, then 1 gentle agitation at 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 minutes (and a light "cheers" at 12 minutes), making sure to not agitate too hard or too much, but let the highlights get a batch of fresh developer now and then.

    The result:

    Filter effect:
    Wow!
    You can clearly see the difference between the unfiltered shot, to the #25 red filter shot, but look at the red + pola!
    Ansel Adams go home, haha :tongue:

    Fomapan 100 in HC-110:
    What's the problem? The negatives look good and if you keep you fat fingers (and fat squeegees) away from it while wet, there is no problem!
    Now, this was a "sky-test" alone, I have yet to test to see how trees and water will fare when I use this technique, most likely I'll have to stash a square ND filter on somewhere, to prevent the land part of the image to go too dark on me.

    N+2 development with Fomapan 100:
    I guess I got lucky, the negatives look very nice to my eye, scans well, not too thick, not too thin, will print well in the darkroom.
    N+2 was maybe a bit much though, because the negatives (at least from my grain enhancing Nikon-scanner) are a bit grainy in 35mm. I need to print some in the dark-room to get a proper impression.

    Conclusion:


    If I was to do it again, I would place the shadow part of the clouds at around zone IV, so that the whites were at VI (may vary depending on conditions off course) and then do a n+1 development instead. (it can go really stark, very fast).
    Result scan of the negative frames side by side as they appear on the negative is attached (photo darkened to where I typically do it when I make a proof-sheet in the dark room), this is a proof scan, scanned trough my negative sleeve, so never-mind the dust specs, they are on the outside of the neg-sleeve. Also, the neg-leader shows some unevenness in brightness, probably due to said sleeve.

    Also attached, a proper scan from the #25 filter + pola filter, made on my Nikon V.

    I hope you enjoyed this totally unscientific test as much as I did ^^
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2012
  26. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have filters on pretty much all the time. I stick to the yellow and orange filters the most, but I always carry a filter pouch with me that has a red filter, a green (light and dark), a polarizer, and a nd.3 just in case.