Archivi categoria: filters

How Color Filters Affect B&W Photos

If you’re new to film photography, chances are that you’ll get into shooting black and white sooner or later because you have been inspired by the masterpieces of old masters. But before you become the next Henri Cartier-Bresson or Sebastião Salgado, there are a few introductory things you should know.

Seeing the world in black and white is the main struggle for everyone at the beginning, but like with everything else, it can be learned and practiced with a simple understanding of how colors are translated into B&W. The human eye can distinguish approximately 500 shades of gray (well, some are limited to 50, but that’s another story). On the other hand, the scope of colors feels almost unlimited by comparison.

Why are some colors identical when turned into B&W?

Imagine a bus with only 50 seats (and no standing space) that has to carry 200 hundred people at the same time. If they all want to get in, some people will have to share the same seat. It’s the same with colors turned into B&W, there are too many to fit into the 500 shades of gray, so they must be compressed to all fit in the bus. To put this into an image, I’ve turned the 6 basic colors into gray so you can see how they translated in B&W.​

We can see that some share the same seat. Look at the yellow and orange: they are nearly identical, so that affects sunset pictures. Another interesting comparison is the red and green: they are almost identical, which makes pictures of poppy field look like a muddy gray landscape… how disappointing!

Picture by Friederike Hiepko

Does that mean that I can’t take a good B&W picture of a poppy field?

Hopefully not! There are ways to change the way B&W film responds to colors. For this, you will have to rely on colored filters. Let me briefly introduce each of them:

Yellow filter: The classic among black and white photographers. Blue skies are darkened, which helps to increase the separation with the clouds. Other colors like green, red, orange and yellow will appear brighter.

Orange filter: It comes right after the yellow in terms of strength. Blues will become even darker for a more dramatic effect. Most warm colors will also show brighter than greens.

Red filter: This one is the strongest. Red will turn into white and foliage appear very dark. If you want your poppy flowers to pop out that’s the one but pay attention to the background. We can see at the horizon the light green turned also into white. It works best with darker shades of green like in the foreground.

Green filter: The opposite of the previous one. Red will turn darker and green brighter. It’s not very popular because of its limited span of action, but it can give very interesting effect when used on the correct scene.

Blue filter: Another uncommon filter but if you want to brighten blues it’s the one! Warm colors will be darkened and red turned into black, which can help to separate elements in a mixed colored scene. It also increases fog and haze which can help to emphasize a moody landscape.

One important thing about using filters is that they all reduce the amount of light by 1 or more stop. So you must compensate this loss of light when exposing. It varies depending on the filter so refer to the manufacturer’s product information.

Considering contrast when shooting B&W

Now that we know how to manipulate each color, the other element to consider when shooting B&W film is contrast.

Depending on which style you are going for, contrast will play a major role. There are no colors to define the mood of your image so the type of light is probably the most important element to create the ambiance you want to achieve. Direct sunlight can be a nightmare for color photographers, but not in B&W. If you want to shoot street photography, for example, it’s exactly what you are looking for as it will create contrast and harsh edges in your image. It will help to detach the subject from its environment and re-enforce your composition.

If you prefer a softer ambiance, look for an atmosphere with low contrast. Cloudy or foggy days are perfect for this type of images. The light is evenly distributed which result in a mellower ambiance. It’s also the ideal situation for shooting female portraits, as it makes skin looks softer and more pleasing.

Another crucial element that affects contrast is the type of film you shoot with. B&W films don’t react the same way and it’s important that you choose the proper one based on what you are looking for. This is really a matter of personal tastes and there is no right or wrong film here, just the one you like.

If I want to go for a contrasty image, Ilford HP5 or Kodak Tri-X are my go to films. If I’m aiming for a softer image, Fomapan 200 or 400 is the one I prefer.

“There are so many films, which one is the best?”

Choosing film can be overwhelming when beginning so if you are not sure about which one you should use, check out the “Film Dating” quiz I created. It helps to find the right film for you in just a few clicks.

The last point that will influence the result of your image is the development technique or chemicals you will use. There are many ways to go when developing and the combinations of film/developer can completely change the look of a negative.

I’ll take the example of stand development, as that’s the one I’m more familiar with. Depending on the film and developer you are using, it can completely change the contrast of your photo. I have tried this approach with Fomapan 400 (low contrast) and Kodak Tri-X (high contrast).

When developed using the stand technique using Ilfotec DD-X developer, Fomapan 400 turned into a super contrasty film. On the opposite, Kodak Tri-X, which is known for being contrasty, turned into a flatter image with this process. These are just examples and combinations are infinite when developing. The best is to experience yourself with the chemicals and films you have at home. If you want more information about developing time for each film and chemical, check out this Massive Dev Chart.

We’ve now seen that many factors can influence a B&W image, but the most important point is your ability to see the world in monochrome. That’s what requires the most practice but with experience, you’ll become better — it’s just a matter of training your imagination.

If you are just starting out, forget about everything else and just concentrate on imagining a scene in B&W. Once you’ve gained more experience, it’ll be easier to apply what you’ve read above.


About the author: Vincent Moschetti is an Ireland-based photographer who is in the middle of a year-long experiment where he’s shooting only film photography. You can find more of his work or follow along on this adventure by visiting his website or following him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.

Snapchat’s ‘World Lenses’ Add Wacky Animations to the World Around You

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Snapchat just upped the ante on acid trip-like augmented reality. In their latest update, the photo and video messaging app added something called ‘World Lenses’: basically animated filters that you can apply to the world around you the same way you could apply the app’s ‘Selfie Lenses’ to your face.

From sleepy clouds that puke rainbows, to snow, to hearts, and a few more, you can augment your mundane reality into whatever brand of acid trip you prefer. Just open up the app, press and hold on the screen, and the filters will pop up looking like this:

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From there, the interface is the exact same as their Selfie Lenses. You swipe through your options until you’ve found the augmented reality you’d like to capture, and take a photo when you’re satisfied with the effect.

Here are a few quick Snaps I grabbed this morning, sitting down to coffee on a stereotypical Seattle day (read: rainy).

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In addition to this very odd (but also probably very popular) new feature, Snapchat is also preparing for the launch of their camera glasses, the “Spectacles,” in this latest app update. The newest version now includes a page for pairing your Spectacles to the app, and TechCrunch spotted some new ads for the glasses at LAX.

No doubt, these two updates go hand-in-hand. Once your primary Snapchat camera is attached to your face, taking augmented reality selfies is out. It makes a lot of sense for Snapchat to prepare their user base for Spectacles by porting their popular ‘lenses’ gimmick into the world around you.

To try World Lenses out for yourself, either update your app or grab a fresh copy from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

(via The Verge)

Which Lens Filters Are Still Needed for Digital Landscape Photos?

Here’s a helpful 12-minute video by landscape photographer and vlogger Thomas Heaton about lens filters. With the emergence of digital photography and powerful editing software, the benefits of some filters can be recreated digitally while others cannot.

Heaton explains why he still needs polarizing filters but doesn’t need ND filters and graduated ND filters. But just because he doesn’t need them doesn’t mean he doesn’t use them.

Heaton shows how a circular polarizer can transform the look of a waterfall scene.
Heaton shows how a circular polarizer can transform the look of a waterfall scene.

“For me, the love of landscape photography comes from my love of the outdoors. I want to spend as much of my time in the outdoors as possible and not [sitting] in front of a computer,” Heaton says. “It’s the craft — I love the craft of photography. Pulling out an ND filter, dropping it in front of my lens, and seeing an image come to life in front of me and getting instant gratification — that is why I use these filters.”

“I love to create an image, and to create an image in the field there and then while I’m surrounded by the atmosphere, the wind, and the rain,” he continues. “That is where I get the love of photography. […] So I really want to get as much of that done in camera as possible.”

See How Each LEE Filter is Cast, Tested, and Hand-Dyed in the Factory

A few months ago, photographer Karl Taylor got a tour of the LEE filters factory where he got to see how these high quality filters are cast, tested, and dyed (by hand!)—he even got to dye one for himself. Fortunately, he took a camera man (and now us) along for the ride.

The whole process of creating a high-quality photographic filter is fascinating to watch. From casting the “cells” using a resin liquid that’s cured in an oven for 24 hours, to testing the hardness to determine what kind of filter it will become, to dying the graduated and hard ND filters, all the way to the quality control and packaging process.

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The dying process is perhaps the most interesting because you get to see how every single LEE filter is actually dyed by hand. They’re tested afterwards to ensure consistency, of course, but every one is lowered into the dye and held there by a human factory worker, not a machine. Apparently, this is to ensure the smoothest most natural transition between the clear and darkened parts of a graduated ND filter:

“There are other ways of doing this,” LEE Sales Director Ralph Young says in the video, “but we actually believe this is the best way to get the transition of a grad[uated filter] rather than using machinery to do it.”

Of course, it takes some experience to get this right over and over again, hundreds of times per day, but they still gave Karl a chance to dye his own graduated filter. Spoiler alert: his filter failed Quality Control…

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The video was only released today, but we know it was shot back in late February because the then-unreleased 15-stop SuperStopper Karl got a sneak peek of was released a few weeks later in March. This was also when they put together the first Lee Filter Kits that Karl picked out himself, which you can see and purchase here.

Check out the full factory tour at the top of this post, and if you want to see more from Karl you can visit his website or follow his YouTube channel.

(via Imaging Resource)

500px ‘RAW’ Lets You Shoot, Edit, and License RAW Photos, All on Your Phone

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500px’s latest app “RAW” is more than the name implies. Not only does it let you shoot and edit RAW photos on your iPhone, it also helps you license those photos to clients who submit specific briefs to the 8 million photographer 500px community.

Since the release of iOS 10, several camera apps have already jumped on the RAW bandwagon by letting you shoot, edit, and share RAW files straight from your iPhone or iPad. But 500px RAW goes a step further by pairing that capability with on-demand photography assignments from companies looking to license photos.

On the photo editing side, 500px RAW offers some robust RAW editing tools. Beyond the basic edits like contrast and exposure, the app actually lets you edit hue, saturation, and luminance by color.

Once you’ve dialed in a look you like, you can save a custom filter. And if all that seems like too much work, 500px teamed up with some of their most popular users to create some ready-to-use presets for you.

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If, after you’re done shooting and editing those photos, you want to try and license them, the app is ready to help. You can create, export, and attach model releases to your photos, and sign up for 500px’s on-demand service (launching “soon”) which will notify you when there’s a relevant photo assignment near you.

And CEO Andy Yang isn’t afraid to name drop a few of the big players 500px has already tested this on-demand service on.

“Our partner brands, including Airbnb, Google, and Lonely Planet, have seen tremendous success,” says Yang. “We can now direct our 8 million photographers towards any idea or creative brief. We’ve proven that photography on-demand can be done at scale, for a competitive price, while paying photographers fairly.”

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The on-demand side is a lot like EyeEm’s Missions or ImageBrief’s modus operandi, except that the 500px RAW app is trying to build everything into a single mobile workflow—from shooting and editing, to finding clients, to the cumbersome business of model releases.

But even if you’re not interested in the licensing side, 500px’s most faithful users will probably still enjoy having an end-to-end RAW shooting and editing app built by the photo sharing network they use most.

To learn more about 500px RAW or download it for yourself, head over to the iTunes App Store.


Full Disclosure: DL Cade spent a little over a year as 500px’s Editor-in-Chief.

The Artisto App is Prisma for Video, Turns Videos into van Goghs

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Ever since the Prisma app swept people up in a frenzy of photo-to-painting simulation, people have been waiting for Prisma to release the video version. They’re working on it, but a Russian company has actually beat them to the punch.

The company, Mail.ru (My.com in the US), created Artisto to do exactly what Prisma does for photos, only with video. So whether you prefer Picasso or van Gogh, you can now turn a snippet of your latest timelapse or backyard video clip into flowing painting that looks like this:

The app is free, so there’s no harm in giving it a shot… well, except for maybe a headache. According to Engadget, the app crashes as often as it works, and there aren’t as many filters as you might want. But considering Artisto was allegedly built in all of 8 days, we’ll take what we can get and save ourselves the hours of processing work involved in doing this frame-by-frame.

Until Prisma finally does launch video—and all indications are that they’re taking their time so the feature works as smoothly as possible—Artisto will definitely do. Check it out for yourself on the iTunes Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.