Viewfinder Episode 1

Last Friday Blustocking asked, “Mark what kind of filter did you use to make the sky stand out so much? I’m curious cuz on Black and White film (what I use) the sky tends to come across as white.”

The camera I use is a digital SLR and I shoot in RAW then edit the shot in photoshop to get my black and white look. Now since you use film you have a variety of options of film and filters that will give you different contrasts to your composition. An excellent resource of different films and their outputs is I Heart Film.

Now the types of filters to use is determined by how dark you want a certain color range you want to be. I know what your thinking, “black and white aren’t colors, it’s tones.” Your right, however if you want the color blue to be darker in tone then you’ll want to use a filter color that will allow that to happen. So the question really is which filter color will darken which object color on film.

The main types of filters are yellow, orange, and red. There are others (blue and green for instance) but you’ll get what you want from these colors. Now a filter will lighten it’s own color while darkening it’s complementary color or opposite color on a color wheel. Yellow will lighten yellow colors and darken blue colors or red lightens red hues and darkens green.

Keep in mind that the darker the color of filter the less light that gets to your film. Yellow, orange, and red filters have a -1, -2, and -3 stops respectively. So keep an eye on your cameras TTL metering or use a hand held light meter to be sure your exposure is correct.

For shots that involve mainly blue sky, use a yellow filter. This will darken the blue and keep the clouds the same (since white is a neutral color).  If ,however, you have landscape or other objects in the shot you’ll want to use the orange filter instead. This will affect a wider range of colors since it’s between red and yellow on the color wheel.

Thanks for your question Bluestocking and happy shooting.


Yellow filter:


About Mark Birks
Professional photographer specializing in fine art photography and portraiture.

One Response to Viewfinder Episode 1

  1. Bluestocking says:

    Thanks for answering!!!! I’m going to try that

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