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Black Digital

Black Digital
Black Digital
Filters in black and white digital photograhy?

I have been led to believe that filters in black and white photography were first used to compensate for imbalances in the response of film across the spectrum. Since monochrome film responded more readily to blue light, a yellow filter was used to restore the balance. The green, orange and red filters were then used to induce contrast, as you know!

But now, in the days of digital sensors, do we have the same problem? If we just require a roughly even response across the spectrum, should we employ a yellow filter or should we emply no filter at all?


A colour picture is actually 3 B&W pics 1 Red (as if you'd shot with a Red filter, which is exactly what has happened), 1 Blue (Blue filter) and 1 Green (Green filter). When viewed together they give the colour image.

Software such as Photoshop can view these 'channels' separately, the differences will be quite marked.

In the digital era it's better to take a colour picture then convert to B&W later, as all the different channel responses are available for you to blend into your final image.

Assuming a properly exposed original you can go 'Gothic' with threatening skies, or 'Zonal' a'la Ansell Adams (with detail in both shadows and highlights) or 'Soft and Diffuse' for portraits. The new B&W conversion tools in Photoshop CS3 are awesome for this conversion.


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