Reduce contrasts with the orange filter

The orange filter is often used to enhance contrast in black and white photography. When we visit Åland in the summer heat, we use it for exactly the opposite effect, to lessen the contrast. How’s that?

Orange filter in black and white photography

If one uses the popular orange filter in monochrome photography, one probably thinks first of all of increasing the drama of the sky. Because the blue sky gets darker and the white clouds appear plastically. What is often neglected is the fact that reddish tones are softened and therefore brighter.

Bomarsund, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter

Bomarsund, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter | © mare.photo

Åland is famous for its red granite. And because Åland is very Swedish-influenced, there are also many of these typical Swedish-red wooden houses whose color is produced in the northern Swedish Fallun as a waste product of a copper mine. But also old buildings made of regional stone have this reddish character.

Walls are red, the houses are red and it is hot and dry. The green grass is yellow-red and dry and the leaves on the trees are already getting autumnal colors from drought.

By using the orange filter, the blue sky is somewhat darkened in this constellation, and the dry grass, the shimmering red granite wall, the path covered with red gravel and the red painted house are lightened.

Without the orange filter, the sky would be bright in the cover picture, the tree almost black, the granite wall and the grass medium gray. A red house would be almost black.

In the following picture we show an example of how the facades of red-painted houses are rendered too dark, completely in black. If we had used an orange filter in this case, the facade would appear much brighter and thus show its structure.

Mariehamn, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph.

Mariehamn, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph.

A comparison of examples with and without orange filter we have in our review Ilford Pan F 50 Plus. We actually went the way once with superior orange filter and once without orange filter with a time delay of about 10 minutes.

We have selected two pictures from the series in which we have used an orange filter again. Without orange filter the sky would have been very bright and the building’s red wood very dark again.

Vargata, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter

Vargata, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter

Vargata, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter

Vargata, Åland, Ilford Pan F 50 Plus, Leica Elmarit M 2.8 28 asph. Orangefilter

Through the orange filter, the front of the building is now clearly visible, otherwise the sky would be bright, while the bushes on the opposite bank and the door of this building are dark.

Black and white filter for digital photography
It is common opinion today that one could regulate everything in digital photography electronically. So you think you can do without filters. But who monochrome photographed, should take the trouble and screwed tempered black and white filters in front of the lens. You save the postprocessing. Agencies are thrilled when submitted recordings are not overlaid with digital filters. And the environment is happy too: less storage space, less power consumption. Less emissions.

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