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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gadget Bag: Filters For B&W Photography

Find the right on-camera filter to give your images rich gray tones

Labels: Gadget BagGear

Tiffen color filters. Red, yellow and green should be in everyone's bag.

Black-and-white photographs have the potential to be a rich display of tonality and detail, making a scene truly dramatic, be it a somber misty morning or an edgy cityscape. When you take a color image with vibrant reds and greens and then convert it to black-and-white, you may notice that what was once full of life is now a muddled gray with a similar tone. Using color filters in the field can help accentuate contrast, enhance particular tonal shades and infuse more life into each photo.

Black-and-white photographers commonly use color filters, covering the basics of red, orange, yellow, green and blue. The general rule of thumb for color filters is that one will make objects of its own and similar colors brighter while darkening objects of other colors.

>> Red. Red filters are popular among landscape photographers and are often used to turn up the drama. For floral photography, a red filter will increase the definition between red blossoms and green foliage. It deepens a blue sky, making white clouds stand out, and can decrease the effects of haze. Depending on its strength, a red filter may turn a blue sky black. Many photographers use the red filter as a creative alternative to an infrared filter.

>> Orange. A popular general-use filter, an orange filter works well with cityscapes to increase contrast between tones in city materials such as bricks. It also adds depth and texture. Because it has a reddish tone, it also works to decrease fog and haze, and darken the sky a bit more subtly than the red filter.

>> Yellow. The yellow filter is the most subtle and therefore, popular, for beginners just starting to explore filters. It darkens the sky just slightly, bringing out white clouds. The yellow filter also separates light green grass and foliage from the darker greens, creating more contrast.

>> Green. The green filter lightens dark green foliage and separates it from brightly colored flower blooms. It's also used to boost green grass and leaves in trees. Because green filters have a more focused use, they're sometimes thought of as less popular, but are very useful for the landscape photographer. You need to be thoughtful about when you reach for it, however, as it will lighten the sky, possibly losing detail.


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