Back To Basics: Filters Part I

15

Many cameras have a screw thread on the front of the lens. There are a few uses for this, but the most common is filters. Find out how to enhance your black and white lomographs with these essential items

Credits: adam_g2000

This article is not just for the SLR users. Many of the cameras we use in lomography are capable of accepting filters, and those that are not, can often be jury rigged (converted or modified to do so).

For example, I recently wrote an article about my Holga that I modded to allow a lens-hood. The screw thread I added to do this allows me to use filters also. Check it out here.

There are a few types of filter, including the square Cokin series, but the most common and easily available (now for very little money since the rise of digital) are the screw in circular type.

To use them, you need to know what screw thread size your camera lens is. If it’s an SLR it’s normally marked on the barrel. If it’s an old Lubitel 2, you’ll need a push on type. If it’s a more modern one with a screw thread, you’ll either need to hunt down 40.5mm or do what I did, and buy a step up ring to 49mm which are much more common, cheaper, and don’t obscure the focusing lens. A step up ring is a filter that allows larger filters to be screwed into a smaller lens.

For other cameras, search the web and you’ll find your filter size.

Now down to it!

I use filters extensively with Black and White photography. These are nearly always coloured and as there is no colour in black and white, directly affect the contrast of the film in someway.

There are four common types of filter used in Black and White. These are yellow, orange, red and green.

Yellow filters enhance contrast in the sky a little, reduce haze, and offer a more accurate tonal range. I know photographers who have one of these permanently on their lens, like some use Haze filters to protect their expensive SLR lenses.

No filter

This first, very boring, shot was taken with no filter on the camera (and to prove no SLR is needed I used my Lubitel to do it!). It was a partially cloudy day but here you see no clouds at all. I promise you, you’ll see in the next shot that they were there.

Yellow filter

Aright, I admit I moved to get a more interesting shot. But the addition of the yellow filter enhances the sky. You can see lightly more contrast here.

Orange Filter

On with the orange filter and boom, a lot more definition on the clouds and some contrast changes in the trees. You must also start to compensate by a stop or two (see this tipster).

Red filters are used when you want to make something extremely contrasty, so I turned around and aimed at the sky to show you what these puppies do.

Red Filter, bam — end of days!

This beautiful but overcast day looks here like the Perfect Storm is coming.

I love using these filters, here are some I took in the past with different filters:

Credits: adam_g2000

…and some where I forgot or didn’t…

Credits: adam_g2000

You can see what a difference they make, it’s easy to tell which is which.

Sadly, the filter I use the least is also my favourite. The green filter is a bit special. It’s used mainly as a bit of a special effect for when you are shooting plants. It lightens the greens, making them stand out dramatically against the background.

Green filter

How much do the ferns leaves pop! It’s almost an infra-red effect!

There are many other types of filter too, One example is the soft spot filter. I own one of these and it has the effect of blurring everything except the center of the image. Check it out…

Credits: adam_g2000

It looks like an effect from a 50s black and white movie! Lots of fun.

Next month, we look at filters for colour photography, focusing (pardon the pun) on the Circular Polarizing Filter and why it’s essential.

Back to Basics is a monthly Tipster series by Adam Griffiths where he seeks to impart a little more technical film photography knowledge. For each installment, he chooses a fundamental subject and explains it quickly and in simple terms (with examples where possible).

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-06-25 in #gear #tipster

15 Comments

  1. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Very informative. I like using filters to play with contrast and shadows. Before trying a few colored lenses I would have never believed that a blue filter could change the look of plants or how a yellow-green could improve a B&W portrait.

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Very good article!! For B&W portraiture, a green filter improves complexions by blocking red light. Blemishes are red. A yellow-green filter will also add blue light blocking, improving contrast. Long ago, film was orthochromic and saw only green light, so silent movie stars all had wonderful skin, no matter how hungover and blotchy they were. See Jean Harlow or, especially, Clara Bow.

  3. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @herbert-4 that's fascinating. I didn't know that!

  4. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    Great! can't wait to learn more :)

  5. stratski
    stratski ·

    Thank you! I'm looking forward to the color article. I have somehow accumulated a whole range of filters over the years, (all in different sizes unfortunately...) but never got to actually using them. Maybe these articles will give me the inspiration needed. These black and white pictures are lovely.

  6. adash
    adash ·

    Quite informative.

  7. adash
    adash ·

    BTW, I would also recommend to try a polarizer filter, but that would be very difficult on the Holga.

  8. asharnanae
    asharnanae ·

    I keep a yellow filter on my SLR when I shoot B&W, but i never bothered to investigate the greens, maybe now I shall have too! Great article.

  9. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @adash I think it could be done, but I've not tried it. I have jury rigged a thread onto my Holga, I reckon you could hold the CPL up to your eye, and mark the top at the points it's doing it's thing. Then screw it onto the Holga and use the marks to line it up. I won't know until I try.

  10. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @stratski do you have any effects filters other than the one I showed here? I'm keen to demonstrate starbursts, but cannot find one!

  11. adash
    adash ·

    Sounds like a complicated, but rewarding exercise....

  12. bsmart
    bsmart ·

    Great article. I have been shooting some yellow, orange and red filter comparison photos to write my own article about filters. You beat me to it!!!

  13. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    I doubt I've covered everything, you should publish it anyway...

  14. megzeazez
    megzeazez ·

    Thanks for the tipster! I look forward to part II.

  15. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @dearjme, @megzeazez, @nuo2x2, the second article on filters for colour is up.

More Interesting Articles

  • How To Make Dreamy Lomo'Instant-grams!

    written by jacobs on 2015-01-20 in #gear #tipster
    How To Make Dreamy Lomo'Instant-grams!

    Are you on the hunt for a way to take your Lomo'Instant skills to yet another insane level? Stop right there — you've found it! Now keep reading to find out how to make super cool Lomo'Instant-grams using a Lomo'Instant and a few common household items.

    5
  • On Using Color Filters to Tweak Hues in Black and White Photography

    written by chooolss on 2014-04-09 in #lifestyle
    On Using Color Filters to Tweak Hues in Black and White Photography

    While it might sound unusual for some right off the bat, black and white film photographers do use color filters to experiment with their shots without ever needing to do some post-processing. How to do that and which filters to use to capture specific scenes? Take a look at this short instructional YouTube video clip by LZ Film Productions!

  • Expired Earl Grey: Does It Taste Nice?

    written by Xiang Cong Tham on 2015-02-22 in #gear #reviews
    Expired Earl Grey: Does It Taste Nice?

    A lot of lomographers have experienced using and even writing about the greatness of the Lomography Earl Grey black and white 35mm ISO 100 film. However, no one has written about using an expired Earl Grey film yet. How does it fare when it is used expired? Read on to find out more.

    2
  • Shop News

    Show Off your Pics with Style!

    Show Off your Pics with Style!

    Build vivid hanging LomoCurtains, robust free-standing LomoCastles, and dazzling mounted LomoMosaics! Just click them together with the Lomography Photoclips!

  • How To Shoot Nature With The Petzval

    written by hembot on 2014-06-06 in #news
    How To Shoot Nature With The Petzval

    The Petzval lens captures beauty, emotion, drama and sentimentality effortlessly, that's part of what makes it a great portrait lens. Find out how to shoot the most powerful portrait of all, mother nature!

  • Stunning Landscape Shots Taken with the New Russar+ Lens

    written by chooolss on 2014-04-20 in #lifestyle
    Stunning Landscape Shots Taken with the New Russar+ Lens

    Over the last week we've showcased travel snaps, shots taken with the Lomochrome Purple and black and white emulsions, people, places, and a whole lot more taken with the use of the New Russar+ Lens. This time, feast your eyes in these sample digital photographs of landscape from different parts of the world!

  • Film Photography Day Events in Soho

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-03-24 in #events
    Film Photography Day Events in Soho

    To celebrate Film Photography Day, Lomography Gallery Store Soho has organised a very special Scavenger Hunt! You'll be put in groups and given the task of finding and shooting as many items on our list. This event is FREE and there are prizes to be won! Alternatively pop in store on the day for the chance to win an LCA+. Read on to find out how.

  • Shop News

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    You’ve shouted your analogue love from the rooftops and worn your heart on your sleeve – Now it’s time to take it to the next level and wear it on your skin! Our new Lomography Tattoos are fun, easy to apply and come in five designs.

  • Portugal. The Man Petzval Concert Shoot by Matthias Hombauer

    written by zonderbar on 2014-06-27 in #people #lomoamigos
    Portugal. The Man Petzval Concert Shoot by Matthias Hombauer

    The New Petzval Art Lens is the perfect portrait lens. But have you ever wondered how it performs in difficult situations with low light and unpredictable movements, such as a concert? Viennese rockstar photographer Matthias Hombauer proves that such a challenge can be surpassed with exceptional results. In Linz, Austria he met the American rock band Portugal. The Man and shot excellent black and white photos! Check out the gallery below and let Matthias teach you how to work with the lens during concerts.

    1
  • LC-A Goes To: Saint Petersburg, Russia

    written by chooolss on 2014-06-05 in #world #locations
    LC-A Goes To: Saint Petersburg, Russia

    As the iconic LC-A celebrates its 30th birthday this month, we think it's only timely that we look back to Lomography's roots and shine the spotlight on the camera's birthplace, Saint Petersburg. If you haven't been there yourself, or if you have and simply wanted to be reminded of the beauty of the place, we've compiled a few select lomographs taken using no less than the LC-A by our community members!

  • Huge Vintage Camera Lot for Sale on eBay

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-03-03 in #world #news
    Huge Vintage Camera Lot for Sale on eBay

    Fancy building a camera museum or, well, simply have hundreds of cameras at your disposal? You might want to take a look at this newest camera lot to show up on eBay, which includes 600 cameras by various makers and carries a "Buy It Now" price tag of $34,900.00.

  • Shop News

    Uncrate Long Lost Lomography Treasures - 30% Off in our Discount Section

    Uncrate Long Lost Lomography Treasures - 30% Off in our Discount Section

    Fly over to our 30% Discount Section to discover previously unavailable Editions & Clones! Be quick and make one yours before they are all gone again!

  • LC-A 120 and I: chappelow

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-03-03 in #people #lifestyle
    LC-A 120 and I: chappelow

    For chappelow, 2015 is all about pushing the limits and improving his photographic style. To reach this resolution, he adds the LC-A 120 to his arsenal and set off on his analog adventure.

  • Creative Ways to Shoot the Lomography LomoChrome Purple Film

    written by Robn Kester on 2015-03-03 in #gear #tipster
    Creative Ways to Shoot the Lomography LomoChrome Purple Film

    The LomoChrome Purple is easily one of the coolest films to come out in a very long time. The amazing colors and vibe it gives each shot and its wide range of exposures make it a must-have and must-shoot film. Here are some cool ways to help you get the most out of your LCP.

    3
  • To Russia with Love (Part 3)

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-03-03 in #people #lifestyle #locations
    To Russia with Love (Part 3)

    In the third and final installment of his Russian love story, Herr Willie recalls some of the most memorable experiences from his trips to post-Soviet Russia, including traveling aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway and shooting with the La Sardina for Lomography on assignment, and waxes nostalgic about all the amazing people he had met.

    6