Black and White film filter for skin tones

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by anand_n._vishwamitran, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. I searched the archives, but most discussion of black and white film
    filters seem to center on how to darken skies.

    I'm about to leave on a month long trip for India, and plan to take
    a bunch of Fuji Neopan 400 with me.

    One thing I've noticed in the past is that the images (almost
    exclusively of people) can appear too blue, and I'm wondering
    whether this is because I have not applied the "mandatory" medium-
    yellow filter.

    So, should I be reaching out for a medium-yellow filter in general?
    Would it work well for fair and dark skinned people alike? Would
    yellow-green work better?

  2. Green is usually used for skin tones. Depending on what you like, yellow-green is more subtle.
  3. Green is wonderful especially for swarthy skin tones. It should work out well in India.
  4. Thank you for the responses so far.

    One other question - does a yellow filter make sense indoors (there doesn't seem to be any ambient blue indoors for it to knock back, yes?)

    Also, would a green filter make sense indoors as well as outdoors for swarthy people? Does anybody have any example images to share?

  5. Unless there is blue sky, a yellow filter just wastes shutter speed unnecessarily. Indoors, it depends entirely on the light. You might try a blue-green in tungsten-balanced lighting, for example, to suppress blemishes.
  6. A std yellow filter will lighten skint ones and slightly resuce blemishes. A yellow-green filter will reporduce darker skin tones and make blemishes and freckles more visible. A green filter will make the blemishes and freckles stand out. An orange filter make suntanned skin appear lighter. A red filter will produce very light skin tones and scars, freckles and 'disapear'.

    - Carl
  7. Thanks, Carl. That makes total color theory sense. Looks like my best all-round recourse would be to go yellow-green.
  8. I just woke up from my nap and am not processing very well, but just what do you mean "can appear too blue" when you're talking about black and white pictures? Are you by any chance using a lab that prints on color paper?
  9. Hi Conrad,

    I should have said "appear too cold", and I'm referring to scanned, desaturated images. I'm wondering whether the correction in color (or tint?) should have happened up front with the use of filters.
  10. Ah, that makes more sense! Select your filter just as was said above. IMO, filters are cheap and you should have several- medium yellow, orange, green and maybe red. Don't be afraid to evaluate your scene by looking through the filters. I often do that before attaching one to the camera, even if I'm using an SLR. You can get a very good idea of how the filter will affect tones by looking- Kodak used to include some colored viewing filters right in their little photo handbook just for that purpose.
  11. Try a 47B blue filter. It's a little tricky to use - so dark that it's nearly impossible to focus - but you get some interesting effects. It enhances blemishes, freckles, etc, which produces an unusual look. Good for some men and children, it probably won't pay to try it on a woman who expects to be flattered.

    If you're interested, I could probably dig up an example shot on Scala.
  12. If you are shooting B&W film there is no color only B&W. The black and white filters Red Green Orange Yellow etc will lighten and darken different colors but the images will still be grey. Now if you are printing on color paper with a lab or using an inkjet to make B&W prints then the coldness that you are seeing is because an color cast is occuring at the printing stage. This will happen what ever filter you use because it is a printing fault. You may be able to tweak the file a little to offset this by making the image a little warmer with hue and saturation, curves or colorbalance adjustments in PS.
  13. A yellow filter in daylight will help make different colors appear as the shades of grey that we expect.

    The color sensitivity of the eye is different than that of black and white film. Our eye more or less follows the spectral mix of sunlight, peaked in green and yellow wavelengths. Film has a pretty flat curve.

    I started using a yellow filter all the time when I noticed that red and blue (on a flag) appeared the same shade of grey in the print, where the red was much brighter (and I would have expected a paler grey) in my vision. The filter costs me a stop but the prints look more natural to me and more like I want them to.
  14. Anand - Here is a shot that I found using a 47 blue filter and Scala film. I found another shot from the same sitting without the 47. Heller
  15. Here is the same subject, same film, but without the 47. Both shots are pretty much right out of the scanner, w/ capture sharpening. The first one shows some motion blur - the price for using the 47. HH

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