There are 5 filter colours that are commonly used in black and white photography – red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Each lets through its own colour of light and blocks other colours to varying degrees. For example, a red filter will let red light through, but block most green and blue.
For city scape or scenic photography the orange filter can render blacks as a pleasing tone and increase contrast between different building materials. In scenics the work similar to red filters in that they darken blue skies a little so clouds are more clearly defined and slightly reduce the effect of fog and atmospheric haze.
Orange filters give stronger effects than yellow filters but are not as bold and dramatic as a red. It is therefore an ideal choice to span the effects given by both these filters.
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It can also be used on leaves to give green foliage more contrast. Please note that the dress the model is wearing is red and the background foliage is predominately green.
In portrait photography, an orange filter reduces the appearance of freckles and blemishes, giving the skin a healthy, smooth look.
For portraits an orange filter will reduce the appearance of freckles and other blemished while giving skin tones a smooth, more healthy look. Please note that the dress the model is wearing is red and the background foliage is predominately green.
A typical blue filter has a filter factor of 2 (the manufacturer will supply the exact factor with the filter) while most cameras with TTL metering will be able to correct automatically for the filter factor.
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In black & white photography, colour filters in particular are useful as they can control how the colours in a scene are reproduced as greys. Normal black & white films are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light although how they interpret the colours of that scene will not always match the way you see it. Colour filters therefore allow us to modify, at the point of capture, the way the film will respond to the different colours.
A green filter is mainly used for photographing plants as it helps separate the green foliage from the brightly-coloured flowers and buds.
A green filter lightens greens, separating foliage and flowers. Image by aussiegal.
If you’re serious about black and white photography then a selection of coloured filters is a great addition to your kit. They’ll give you much more control over the way your photos appear, helping you to create mood, balance contrast, and emphasise the most important parts of a scene.
Here is the effect of the Hoya X0 Yellow-Green filter on a models skin tone and red dress.
This image shows how different filters affect the way colours are converted to black and white:
It also lightens blues and darkens yellows, oranges and reds which helps separation in scenes containing a mix of colours.
Filters have long been a popular accessory for photographers and offer a number of different functions or effects. In both analogue and digital photography it is possible to recreate some of these in the darkroom or digital darkroom. However there has always been a benefit to getting it right in camera.
This can cause objects in a black and white image to blend into one another, leaving you with a photo which is flat and lifeless, and lacking in contrast and definition.
Red filters produce such an extreme effect that they can make your photo look like it’s been shot through an infrared filter. This makes them a popular, cheaper alternative to true infrared photography.
Yellow filters produce the most subtle effect of the 5 coloured filters. In some cases the difference is barely noticeable, but it can help to lift a photo just enough. They’re a popular choice for beginners as they can be used in virtually any type of photography.
Orange filters sit between red and yellow filters, giving a nice balance of each one’s properties. This makes them a popular general purpose filter.
Although a yellow filter darkens blues, it reproduces green, yellow, orange and red in lighter shades. This gives more differentiation between the different colours of foliage while flesh tones have a more natural look.
A common problem in black and white photography is that certain colours look very similar when converted into greyscale. For example, some shades of red, green, and blue look completely different in colour, but almost identical in black and white.
Each coloured filter produces a different effect on the scene.
Different coloured filters (top line) affect your scene’s greys in different ways.
A yellow filter has always been the “classic” first choice filter for black & white film photographers. It gives an excellent balance between photographic effect and ease of use making it a useful and versatile accessory.
When used correctly, this reduced contrast can be useful for giving a shot a calm, soothing atmosphere. A blue filter also increases the appearance of haze and mist, making it handy for enhancing the mood of an early-morning scene.
When photographing buildings and cityscapes, they give bricks a pleasing tone, and increase contrast between different materials to add depth and texture to the image.
Many photographers use a yellow filter to “bring out the clouds”. This works by darkening the blue sky, giving a greater visual separation between the darkened sky and the white clouds on the final print. A yellow filter will also give improved penetration of haze and fog.
Unlike the subtler changes given by yellow and orange filters, a red filter can create bold and dramatic effects. Blue skies are now recorded as black on the print, resulting in an impending thunderstorm effect. Pictures of mixed material buildings gain drama and clarity. A red filter will also give marked penetration of haze and fog. When used with a film like [SFX] it can create an infrared style look.
Green filters are less popular than the others but are useful in some circumstances.
A blue filter is not often associated with black & white photography however, it can really add “mood” to a photograph by increasing the effect of haze or fog.
A red filter gives extreme, dramatic contrast. Image by Nicholas.
In portrait photography, they produce warm, natural, pleasing flesh tones, like an orange filter but less intense.
A yellow filter gives slightly darkened blues, increasing sky contrast. Image by Alex Gorstan.
Less popular than the other colors but still very useful for specific types of photography. The Green filter is good for lightening the tone of green foliage which can give an other-worldly effect similar, but not has strong as infrared in some situations. Since it renders greens lighter it can be used in the scenic photography but because it also makes skies a lighter gray care should be taken to consider the scene and include as little sky as possible.
Black and white filters let you control how colours are converted to shades of grey. Use them to get the right contrast and mood in your photos.
The 25A is a deep red filter that passes red and blocks bluish colors so that blue skies are rendered as a much darker gray or even nearly black in a B&W photograph. This filter allows for much stronger contrast to bright out white puffy clouds.
Because of their different effects, each colour filter tends to be used in a different way.
Getting into Black & White photography with either film or digital? They you really need to see how some of these colored filters for Black & White Photography can improve your photos.
The result is that colours matching the filter colour appear brighter in the final image, while other colours appear darker. In black and white photography this means that objects appear as lighter or darker shades of grey.
A typical yellow filter will have a filter factor of 2 (the manufacturer will supply the exact factor). Most cameras with TTL metering will correct automatically for the filter factor but check your particular model.
It lightens green foliage, which is particularly important with dark green leaves which can record very dark without a filter. It therefore gives a more natural, lighter feel to the photograph.
Blue filters are rarely used for black and white photography. They darken most colours and reduce contrast across an image.
Blue skies will be recorded in very dark tones on the print, giving bold contrast between the sky and clouds. An orange filter will also penetrate haze and fog. Most flowers will be recorded with a significant difference in tone from the surrounding foliage giving impact and effect.
A blue filter darkens most colours and is used to reduce contrast. Image by Tony Armstrong.
An orange filter gives warm, smooth skin tones. Image by David Jubert.
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Although limited in application, it can be the perfect solution for many photographs. A typical green filter has a filter factor of 2 (the manufacturer will supply the exact factor with the filter) while most cameras with TTL metering will be able to correct automatically for the filter factor.
When snapping landscapes a yellow filter darkens the sky slightly, helping to balance its exposure against the darker ground. They also bring out clouds nicely, resulting in more interesting skies.
Yellow filters yield the most subtle effects of all the colored filters. They are kind of considered the UV/Protector” of Black & White photography but they do have more of an impact on tones and contrast than a UV filter would. The effect is just strong enough to give a scene a little boost without it being immediately noticeable.
A typical orange filter has a filter factor of 4 (the manufacturer will supply the exact factor with the filter). Most cameras with TTL metering will not be able to automatically correct for the filter factor. Due to the dramatic effects given by an orange filter it is recommended that shots are taken with +1 stop extra exposure.
In landscape photography, a red filter will turn a blue sky almost black and make clouds really stand out, giving the scene a dramatic feel. They’re also excellent for increasing visibility in haze and fog.
Similarly to red filters, they can be used to reduce the appearance of fog and haze, and to darken skies and emphasise clouds.
Using Colour Filters for Black & White photography Posted On 30th March 2017 To Beginner Series
Red filters also render red color has much lighter gray tones then because it passes a lot more red light than any other color increasing the exposure of this color and by doing so, making its gray tone much lighter. In certain circumstances a red car could appear as white in in Black & White when a red filter is used. Please note that the dress the model is wearing is red and the background foliage is predominately green.
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In portrait photography a yellow filter will yield more clear, warm skin tones similar to the orange while still appearing very natural. Its subtlety is the beauty of they yellow filter.
They can also be used in landscape photography to boost the appearance of grass and trees, but they also lighten the sky so you need to be careful not to lose detail there.
When photographing foliage in black and white, a green filter is used almost exclusively.
Before we delve into what reach color filter will do the thing to remember is that in Black & White photography the each color filter will render its own color as a lighter gray in a scene while darkening it’s opposite color, also known as is complimentary color. For instance a green filter will lighten greens while absorbing reds rendering them darker.
A green filter is also highly effective in yielding better skin tones when taking portraits under tungsten lights or natural light. Please note that the dress the model is wearing is red and the background foliage is predominately green.
Yellow filters are good for separating shades of green, and can be used whe photographing plants to increase the contrast of foliage.
Yellow filters do darken blue skies slightly so clouds pop a little more also this creates a better balance with the foreground.
The yellow-green filter was another filter that was traditionally considered an “all-around” filter to leave on a lens all the time when shooting Black & White. It has properties of the Yellow filter, such as darkening the tone of blue skies slightly while also lightening green foliage. These properties make it a good filter for “walking around” when shooting with either Black & White film or with a digital camera set in Black & White.
This series of filters allows you to better control contrast and the lightness or darkness gray tones of a Black & White picture at the time the photo is taken. This is also known as “the tonal rendition”. By adjusting the tonal rendition at the time of capture there will be less need for post processing with software, that saves time and as the saying goes, time is money.
A typical red filter has a filter factor of 4 to 5 (the manufacturer will supply the exact factor with the filter). Most cameras with TTL metering will not be able to automatically correct for the filter factor. Owing to the dramatic effects given by a red filter it is recommended that shots are taken giving +1 to +2 stops of extra exposure.
Red filters produce a very strong effect and greatly increase contrast. They’re often considered too “harsh” for most types of photography, but can be used to produce striking creative effects.
When shooting plants they help increase definition between flowers and foliage. This is particularly useful when shooting red flowers, as they have a similar tone to the surrounding leaves.
In Black & White photography orange is considered the general purpose leave in at all times filter. It sits between red and yellow filters and has some effects of both.
When shooting flowers without a filter there’s often little tonal difference between the flowers and the foliage in the print. A red filter will, in almost every case, give a significant difference in tone, making the photograph more interesting and dramatic.
Coloured lens filters offer a solution to this problem because they affect the way colours are “converted” to black and white. This allows you to control the way they appear in the final image, ensuring that objects are well separated and clearly defined.