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B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film?

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by Clive, May 16, 2002.

  1. Clive

    Clive Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking of moving into a new mode - and trying my hand at B&W landscapes, either with a Mamiya 7 or Mamiya 645. The choice of camera might well depend on whether I want to use filters or not. I have never used a yellow filter - I know some B&W people regard it as a standard filter, but not sure why. Grads? red or orange for drama? Green to lighten foliage?

    Also, was toying with the idea of using some of my stock of 120 Agfa APX25 - (tripod job I presume), or is there a 'classic' landscape B&W film?

    Any thoughts/experience appreciated.

    Clive

    http://www.photoport.co.uk

    http://mysite.freeserve.com/invisiblelight/
     
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    B&W landscape work is often tougher than colour, at least if you're talking about broad vistas. Trying to get an interesting tonal balance can be a nightmare. I'm not very good at it, but likewise fancy having another go. The sky tends to be the problem - I've never tried a grad with B&W, so it might help, but the extended blue sensitivity of pan film is why a yellow filter is generally used - it darkens the blue sky a touch to make the clouds stand out. Personally, I used to prefer a red, which gives a more dramatic effect akin to using SFX. I have never used a green, so can't comment, and seldom (yet!) used an orange. Filter, Will, not the fruit. I also used to like using 35mm HP5 in Rodinal for the lovely grain and tones, but I would think that APX25 would be superb at the other end of the spectrum.
    Might be worth using the 645 to experiment with and without filters at a lower cost!

    Nick BSRIPN
     
    Done_rundleCams likes this.
  3. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    As a complete greenhorn but knowing what I like, isn't the danger in over-filtration. A lot of the colour work that we see submitted to various competitions and forums (fora?) is so patently unreal as to be a real turn off. The clever filtration sems to lie with the pics that 'could' be real. I am not saying this very well but basically we should not be able to tell that a filter was used. (I think)
    In hole now, time to stop digging.

    Quantum mechanics have very, very small tools!/img/wwwthreads/smile.gif
     
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Peter, you're absolutely right, but there are differences in the use of filtration, and of course any rules are there to be broken. Leaving aside the issue of filters for colour work, in black and white the main purpose is to enhance contrast. B&W is unherently unreal in any case - the idea is to produce something aesthetically pleasing. Historically, B&W film is oversensitive to blue light, so a nice blue sky with fluffy white clouds would come out all white on a print. A yellow filter is used to reinstate the natural contrast. Personally, I don't think it does enough, and have preferred the less natural but more dramatic effect of a red filter. Likewise, the green response can be unnatural, leaving a mess of dark tones in the ground section of the print - a green filter can help separate the various tones out.
    I've often assumed that for the most natural look a yellow/green would be best, but then I really don't see the point in trying to create a natural B&W landscape in the first place!
    My pal with the 5x4 swears by an orange filter for landscapes, BTW.

    Nick BSRIPN
     
  5. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    Nick has said pretty much all that needs to be said on coloured filters - I'll just add a couple of points. One of the reasons a yellow is considered as a standard for B&W is largely historical - lack of coatings on lenses before the late 1940s meant that most B&W work was improved by a yellow filter. Also it may still be used for cutting down the effect of haze in landscapes, in addition to the darkening of blue skies.

    An orange filter will tend to lighten foliage as well as darken skies, and a yellow more so, as these pass much of the green light that a red absorbs, so there is a lot of scope for creative choice here.

    Regarding film, I haven't used APX25, but with medium format I imagine its fine grain might be overkill. I get virtually grain-free 20"x16" prints from FP4 on 6x7, and I'm happy with it, but I do also use HP5 sometimes. Remember that with MF you lose about two stops just achieving the same depth of field as you would have with 35mm. Add to that anything up to three stops for filter compensation, and you are looking at some very long exposure times for a 25ASA film - just something to bear in mind.

    I wouldn't bother with graduated filters for B&W - at least not NDs. The effects should be better achieved in the darkroom. Personally I don't like them even for colour, but that may just be me.

    The 'classic' B&W landscape film is, or rather was, Kodak Super XX - long since discontinued. OTOH, Ansel Adams for one preferred Tri-X. Nowadays I believe the nearest thing to Super XX is supposed to be Bergger BPF200 (or 'BRF200' for roll film), but I haven't yet tried it. It is a more traditional type of high silver emulsion. It won't have the fine grain of modern films, but it should be better for tonality, contrast, and acutance.

    It might be of interest that there is apparently a campaign orchestrated by Ron Wisner in the US to get Super XX reintroduced, but if I were you I wouldn't hold my breath.



    Huw Evans.
    www.huwevans.freeuk.com
     
  6. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that Nick. Do you know you can learn more on this site - fun apart, although that is pure escapism for what I suspect are a load of rather hard working folk- than in a year of reading the mags.
    Stop rambling you old fool. Ok here we go. Isn't the basic aethos of B&W (now we have a choice of course)to visually filter out the clutter of colour shots which can distract from the locus of the scene. Concentrating on line and form, light and shadow and possibly becoming true surrealism in it's purest form. To further add to that original filtration which occurs in the eye of the photographer seems almost blasphemous.

    Quantum mechanics have very, very small tools!/img/wwwthreads/smile.gif
     
  7. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    That's one perspective. Mine is rather that it's for the photographer to produce the image s/he wants by interpreting the subject as s/he sees fit. And many landscapes just don't work without filtration! Now, if you're talking pure abstracts, then maybe filters aren't needed, but the fundamental purpose of B&W filtration is to be truer to the original scene by correcting colour response. Anyway, I just do whatever I like, without worrying about philosophical niceties!

    Nick BSRIPN
     
  8. Clive

    Clive Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone for the input: quite a few moons ago when I used to do a lot of B&W and D&P (before this much more recent outbreak - the third) I always used an orange filter for just about everything. The yellow sounds nice - to bring some life into the sky. So I do think I'll experiment a bit. I've never heard of a polariser being used for B&W, though I'm sure someone has done it.

    As to film - I do like FP4, but I might also try my favourite - HP5 which I now develop in DiXactol. Certainly if I'm using filters a fair bit, then the extra speed could be useful. I think I'll leave APX25 for still life studio shots.

    Clive

    http://www.photoport.co.uk

    http://mysite.freeserve.com/invisiblelight/
     
  9. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Oops, just attempting to bring a little thought into the hurly burley of debate, not criticising anyone or their practice. Simply trying out alternative opinion.

    Quantum mechanics have very, very small tools!/img/wwwthreads/smile.gif
     
  10. Col. Hogan

    Col. Hogan Well-Known Member

    Hi Clive,
    I tend to use my red filter more than any of the others. I just don't think the yellow, orange or green make enough of a difference in the scene. I like the definition that a red filter gives me. I think the exception to this is the Scala slide film. Maybe that's just me.

    Diane
     
  11. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    "Stop rambling you old fool."

    Rambling is OK, it's when you start drooling on your keyboard when it gets
    kind of yucky. Besides, doesn't 'rambling' sort of go hand-in-hand with
    Landscapes??

    Cheers/img/wwwthreads/smile.gif

    Jack

    not digital but film, so far, but digital is
    starting to seduce me.
     
  12. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film? Weirdness

    Clive,

    Being more of a (urban)landscape and people shooter along with liking
    a bit of grain (in the film) my advice would be to look at the previous
    suggestion and incorporate you're previous experince in Landscapes and do
    a Monty Python........."And Now For Something Completely Different"...

    use Tmax 3200 and push it to 6400 or 12800 and then soup it in IlfoTec HC
    at a 100 F/38C (degrees) and you will get some funky looking photos. Very
    pointilist......I think that is the term...kind of like some Monet pictures.

    Main thing is: go out and have fun/img/wwwthreads/wink.gif

    Jack

    not digital but film, so far, but digital is
    starting to seduce me.
     
  13. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re: B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film? Weirdness

    There's a lot to be said for that sort of approach. Landscapes can be brilliant with excessive (for most purposes) grain. But for that I would tend to use 35mm to maximise the effect!

    Nick BSRIPN
     
  14. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Peter, sorry if I came over as being rude or dismissive - I wasn't trying to be either - for once!
    The beauty of this hobby is that it can mean different things to each of us, or even different things to any one of us at the same time with the same subject - I often like to try several approaches to the same shot. None of it is wrong as long as it's fun.

    Nick BSRIPN
     
  15. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Absolutely - fun it is and should remain. Mind you any censor looking at the mugshots is going to need a rating above 18 before letting the public in on that one!

    Quantum mechanics have very, very small tools!/img/wwwthreads/smile.gif
     
  16. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Well quite. That's why I didn't want to encourage it!/img/wwwthreads/wink.gif

    Nick BSRIPN
     
  17. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film? Weirdness

    Hi Nick,

    I agree that it works better/best with 35mm negs and I have gotten
    some great shots doing "urban landscapes" in downtown Vancouver.

    Jack

    not digital but film, so far, but digital is
    starting to seduce me.
     
  18. Clive

    Clive Well-Known Member

  19. Done_rundleCams

    Done_rundleCams AP Forum Ambassador to Canada

    Re: B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film? Weirdness

    Hi Clive,

    If I new what "HIE" I would respond.....or I would respond with a more
    detailed response./img/wwwthreads/smile.gif

    BTW, Clive, have you taken many frames with your new Bessa yet??

    Cheers,

    Jack

    not digital but film, so far, but digital is
    starting to seduce me.
     
  20. Col. Hogan

    Col. Hogan Well-Known Member

    Re: B&W Landscapes - Filters? Film? Weirdness

    Jack,
    High speed Infrared Emulsion

    Diane
     

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