Ansel Adams(esque) B&W, FILTERS?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by tim_secker, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. Can anybody please advise me on the purchase of filters for black &
    white landscape photography, I'm relatively new to all this and
    unfortunately my budget doesn't extend to simply buying 4 or 5 and
    learning from my mistakes.
    I've been scanning through many entries for different tastes and it
    seems for the kind of Ansel Adams effect I'm seeking I should go for
    a B+W 023dark yellow(9)and a 090light red(25)? I have a 72mm lens
    with a good polarizer which seems to me will work well with both (not
    simultaneously, obviously!) - I'm really keen to get the sky very
    dark/black/graduated and yet want to keep the whites as good as
    brilliant. Will these filters give the right results? What about a
    lighter yellow, or the 091red[29]?
  2. The very dark skies in the Ansel Adams prints made late in his life, even from negatives made earlier in his life, are a result of darkroom manipulations; the sparkling whites certqainly are. Earlier versions of the same prints show much more detail in the skies. It is probably best to start with a medium to dark yellow filter, and a #25 (red) filterand use the latter sparingly. At some point downthe road you may wish that your negatives were not so contrasty as regular use withthe thred filter will make them.
  3. Your best bet is to get the book Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs by Ansel Adams. He discusses the making of 40 of his most famous photos, and usually talks about the filters that he used. You can probably get the book used from Amazon very inexpensively.
    Learning to emulate one of your favorite photographers is an excellent way to find your point of departure.

  4. Referring to AA books: upon occasion AA used heavy red filters: I recall he pointed out in his opinion often times a #12 is as about dramatic you may want to go for landscapes. Primarily we are talking about what will happen to the sky. I use a wratten #8 and #12 alot. I have no experience with the #9 or #16. Depending on the sky even a #12 can render it fairly dark and unnatural looking. I have found a #15 to be too much for me. Remember I am only talking about darkening the sky. Filters affect shadows and contrast so they all have their place. #25 will render a blue sky very dark. You will have to experiment some: film is cheap!

    Incidendally polarizers are usually not a wise choice with wide angle lenses. Remember maximum polarization is with the light at a 90 degree angle to the lense: therefore many times with a wide angle lense the effect will be uneven throughout the view.
  5. I forgot to mention in case you do not know: no yellow or red filter will darken a sky if the sky is not blue.
  6. Philip;
    what color is the sky where you live?
  7. Vince: do you mean a 95 degree, 100 percent humidity day where there is virtually no blue in the sky and these filters would have no effect on the sky?
  8. Vince;

    or do you mean when its gray
  9. The sky is rarely blue in my part of the world "Central Montana". With the low humidity the sky is either
    • Grey overcast
    • Or or a very low saturated blue near grey.
    • I guess my point is with relation to this threat is that there is not a filter made that could darken the sky an appreciable amount. I believe that in A.A book the negative he stated that about the strongest filter that he used regularly was a dark yellow.
  10. You can also review ansel adams book " The Camera ". There is a small table showing the basic B&W essential filters.

    Good Luck.
  11. If money is an issue and when isn't it I'd avoid the extreme filters. Maybe get a #8 and a number #16 [don't know what those are in B+W speak]

    You can always add the more extreme filters later.
  12. B+W filters mentions their orange filter to achieve the dramatic landscape mode, by which I assume they mean Ansel. You might try that one.
  13. david_henderson


    Most of my b&w photographs are unfiltered but the commonest I use is a nd grad which darkens skies no matter whether blue. cloudy, overcast or whatever, and works evenly across the frame irrespective of focal length. What it doesn't do is increase the contrast between white clouds and blue sky. If what you want to achieve is a very dark sky and very white clouds in camera, you need a red filter and a decent amount of contrast between them to start with.

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