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What Is the Best Type of Filter for Black and White Photography?

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What Is the Best Type of Filter for Black and White Photography?
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What Is the Best Type of Filter for Black and White Photography?

Black and white photography can be enhanced with the use of certain filters. One of the best types to use is a coloured filter. This will alter the tone of the image in various ways, depending on the colour used.

About Filters for Black and White Photography

Filters have long been used in black and white film photography to adjust tone and contrast as well as for other effects. They continue to be used in digital photography as they are quick and convenient to use and their effects are more difficult to reproduce with photo editing software.
Coloured filters are one of the most popular types of filter to use in black and white photography, but there are several others that can also be used to correct images and create interesting effects. These include polarising filters, neutral density filters, and graduated filters.
The use of filters in black and white photography follows similar rules for their use in colour photography, but it is helpful to understand a little about the differences between black and white photography and colour photography before using them. Black and white photography does not actually produce black and white images, but rather images in varying shades of grey. Popular for its monochromatic appeal, black and white photography is today used for various artistic purposes and far more rarely for general purpose shots. With a black and white image, there is less information clouding the image, and it can often be enjoyed in a more simple way. Texture and contrast can often be appreciated in a way not possible with colour images and patterns become more obvious.
Conversely, an image that looks great in colour may look dull and flat when produced in black and white. This can happen with images where strong colours co-exist, but their tones are similar and the image lacks contrast. Always think about the tones of grey that will be produced in an image. Mono view filters can help with this as they allow a black and white picture to be previewed before it is shot, or the image can be viewed on the LCD screen once taken and any adjustments then made.

Choosing Filters for Black and White Photography

Filters that can be used for black and white photography include coloured filters, polarising filters, neutral density filters, and graduated filters. Of these, coloured filters are one of the most useful.

Coloured Filters

Coloured filters are used in black and white photography to adjust tones and add contrast to varying extents. The different colours that become grey when converting colour to black and white can become stronger or lighter as required.
The effect produced depends on the colour filter used. Coloured filters allow the same colour to pass through while blocking others. This means colours in the image the same as the filter will be relatively lighter compared to others.

 

Yellow

Yellow filters lighten yellows, oranges, and reds and darken greens and blues, but the effect is very mild. They are often used to make pale blue skies slightly richer. Yellow filters can also be used for lens protection.

Orange

Orange filters lighten orange and red and darken greens and blues, and the effect is slightly stronger than with yellow filters. This is a popular filter as it is strong enough to have a noticeable effect but not strong enough to have dramatic effects that could make an image appear unrealistic. Orange filters are often used in portrait photography to minimise blemishes.

Red

Red filters are the strongest red toned filters. They dramatically lighten all shades of red and orange while making greens and blues very dark. Red filters are often used in landscape photography to effect almost black skies, where the original sky might have been a quite light blue. They are used by photographers who like to create strong images full of contrast and atmosphere.

Blue and Green Filters

Blue and green filters may also be used, and these have the opposite effect to red toned filters, making blues and greens lighter and yellows, oranges, and reds darker. Neither is used as frequently as orange or red filters. In landscape black and white photography, it is usually desirable to make the sky darker, so both blue and green filters have a contrary effect here.

Other Filters

Some other types of filter that can be useful in black and white photography include polarising filters, neutral density filters, and graduated filters.

 

Polarising Filters

Polarising filters obstruct polarised light rays, thereby minimising glare and reflections in the image. They are useful for cutting out haze as well as shooting across and through water. Polarising filters can be used alongside coloured filters. Using a red and polarising filter together can create dramatic dark skies, while using a yellow and polarising filter together gives a more subtle effect, just darkening the sky a little.

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters reduce the amount of light that can pass through, giving the photographer options to slow shutter speed without the need to decrease aperture. They can be useful to create blurred effects in images of moving water or other objects or for other creative effects.

Graduated Filters

Graduated filters are similar to neutral density filters. They can change the tones in a shot to avoid it being overexposed or underexposed. Graduated filters are available in different strengths and with either hard or soft graduations.

Tips for Black and White Photography

Black and white photography involves thinking a little differently to colour photography. When composing an image, look for tones and textures rather than colour. Darker or more overcast days can be a good time to experiment with black and white photography.
ISO is especially important when it comes to black and white photography because the noise, or graininess, in an image becomes more pronounced. Noise can be minimised by shooting on the lowest ISO setting possible.
RAW images are best as they enable images to be processed on a computer at a later stage without the loss of any information. JPEG files, by contrast, compress the image, so losing data.

Find a Filter for Black and White Photography on eBay

Filters for black and white photography can be found quickly and easily on eBay. Go to the home page and scroll over the Electronics tab, selecting Cameras & Photography from the menu. Scroll down and select Lenses & Filters then Filters. The various different filters are listed under Type. For coloured filters, select Coloured. Various other headings give different options which can be specified. Scroll down and the type of filter, for example screw-in filters, can be selected. The colour can also be selected, with options for yellow, orange, red, blue and green filters, amongst others.
Alternatively, go to the top the page and type search terms into the search bar. To search for a coloured filter, type in “coloured filter”, “red camera filter”, or similar terms. Adjust the search terms as appropriate for other types of filter.

Conclusion

Filters are often used in black and white photography for various purposes. Because they are quick and convenient, they continue to be used even in digital photography. Coloured filters are one of the best types of filter to use in black and white photography. They allow the same colour as the filter to pass and can therefore alter tones and contrast in the image in various ways. This is extremely useful as black and white images can often look dull and flat because, although they contain different colours, the colours may look quite similar when the image is converted to black and white.
Orange and red are two of the most popular coloured filters to use. Yellow, orange, and red filters lighten red shades while darkening blue and green. Yellow has the slightest effect, and red has the strongest effect. Applications include darkening blue skies and, for orange filters, removing blemishes in portrait shots. Blue and green filters are less frequently used.
Other types of filter that can be used in black and white photography include polarising filters, neutral density filters and graduated filters. These can also be used alongside coloured filters. Polarising filters minimise glare, reflections and haze, while neutral density filters and graduated filters reduce the amount of light that can pass through.

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