What Filter to Use for BW portraits

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by learphoto, May 17, 2008.

  1. learphoto

    learphoto Member

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    Hi, everyone I have just joined Apug and it is great to see people still moving forward with BW films. I am about to embark on a photo project (portraits) most likely using tungsten lights. I am wondering if any one could advice me on what filters if any I should use, have heard of the yellow green, additionally would this filter work equally as well for black skin tones. if not any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

    Kind regards Luis
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You shouldn't need to use any.

    I think in about 40 years I've only used a filter for portraits/fashion work once, and that was a soft focus filter.

    Welcome to APUG BTW :D

    Ian
     
  3. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    Red

    If you have a person with reddish skin blemishes, a red filter will help make them disappear. Just don't use red lipstick, which will also be "blended" out with a red filter.
     
  4. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    What Ian said !
     
  5. pwitkop

    pwitkop Member

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    Ussually I don't bother with filters for B&W portraiture, but here's a quick run down on what each tend to do

    Red: lightens skin, gives kind of a porcelyn look. Because most blemishes are red in tone it lightens them, making them less noticable.

    Yellow and Orange: Similar results to red but less, Orange is stronger than Yellow

    Green: Will tend to deepen skin tones, and enhance things freckles, I think it looks someone with a tan. Not ussually recomended for portaiture, but there are times when it's useful (think Maine'ers in Feb.... we're a pale bunch that time of year).

    Blue: Will act (sort of) like ortho film, lips will be dark, freckles etc will stand out. Never used this one myself, so can't say too much about it.

    Peter
     
  6. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Let me pile on also. :smile: I've never really liked the look of filters for portraiture for the reasons stated by previous posters. But I do like the ortho look--Efke (?Adox now) 25 and Maco ORT25 (do they still make this one) orthopanchromatic films are spectacular in this regard. Gives that swarthy 1950's matinee-idol look that seems most flattering on males.

    I like this look better than I do trying to mimic it with pan film and a blue filter.
     
  7. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I would just add some notes which include what may be contra-indications for some filters...

    Red - if a white skinned subject is older, or has little fat under their skin, blue-ish veins can show up alarmingly, as can slight bruising. Conversely these things may be reduced with a blue filter. Outdoor subjects with shadows lit only by blue-sky may have an increase in apparent contrast (use reflectors). The apparent tone of blue eyes can also be affected.

    Blue - a white skinned subject with a bit of a tan can end up looking very strange as the differences in darkness can be exaggerated. Red make-up can be darkened too, and not just lipstick. Warm-brown eyes may be darkened.

    Think also of the effects on the tones of the clothing of the subject. That could make the difference between a sale and no-sale on it's own.

    Probably the best advice was to not use a filter unless there was a very specific reason to do so. Panchromatic film (anything most of us have ever used outside the darkroom in other words) should cope fine with most real scenes.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Mike I have to agree about EFKE/Adox 25, I used it for some portraits about 25 years ago (the films not changed) and the skin-tones were superb. The only reason to use a red filter would be to get that bloodless washed out Goth look.

    The OP is also asking about dark-skin, it's far more important to get the exposure right to keep the right balance of detail. Meter the skin and decide where you want to place the tones.

    Ian
     
  9. learphoto

    learphoto Member

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    Hi everyone, many thanks for all your replies, I will be doing a series of portraits of people over 65, most likely using tungsten light. I am looking for a porcelain look and for african people I am looking for a some what metallic look. I do look like some of the portraits taken by mapplethorpe in terms of look, I have heard that he used to use a yellow green filter, any thoughts?. I was hoping to use the Ilford pan f Plus 50 as I do not want any grain and lots of detail, but very hard to find now days, in oz any way, ANY advice on an equivalent film that may still be available?
    I guess, the color of the filter will depend on film plus light combination, in my case I will be using tungsten.

    many thanks for your thought in adavance..


    Learphoto
     
  10. learphoto

    learphoto Member

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    what filters for BW film with tungsten light

    Hi everyone, many thanks for all your replies, I will be doing a series of portraits of people over 65, most likely using tungsten light. I am looking for a porcelain look and for african people I am looking for a some what metallic look. I do look like some of the portraits taken by mapplethorpe in terms of look, I have heard that he used to use a yellow green filter, any thoughts?. I was hoping to use the Ilford pan f Plus 50 as I do not want any grain and lots of detail, but very hard to find now days, in oz any way, ANY advice on an equivalent film that may still be available?
    I guess, the color of the filter will depend on film plus light combination, in my case I will be using tungsten.

    many thanks for your thought in adavance..


    Learphoto
     
  11. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    I'm sure someone local in Melbourne can suggest where to find some Pan F+, it's still available locally for me in 135 and 120, and I'm in Adelaide...I'm pretty sure I saw some at Vanbar when I was there too, if somewhat overpriced. Your main hurdle is salesmen who insist Ilford went out of business years ago.
    But as far as black and white film under 100ISO, it's the easiest to find these days. Neither Kodak or Fuji make an equivilent, but there's some good stuff from Europe. I'm quite fond of Adox/Efke 25, but I order it from America.