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How filters work in black and white photography



pinhole camera 4x5 with filter

Their use improves the contrast between colours

An excellent tool for modifying grey tones

Amber, Orange, Red, Green and Blue the colours that enhance your black and white photographs

Now let's see how filters work in black and white photography, making the best use of Aulomacolor photographic filters. The use of filters in photography after the advent of digital photography may seem obsolete because you can obtain the same improvements through a photo editing software, this is true, but for those who take black and white photographs with analogue cameras or pinhole cameras the use of the filter is essential to improve the contrast between colours that reflect similar shades of grey, separating them from other nearby colours. In black-and-white photography, coloured filters are therefore an excellent tool for altering the grey tones present in a scene being photographed. Normal black-and-white films are more or less sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, although the way they interpret colours and translate them into shades of grey often does not represent the contrasts that the photographer's eye perceives. The final result is often a very flat picture. The use of Aulomacolor filters changes the final result that film can provide. For black-and-white photography using a camera or a pinhole camera, Auloma has selected five basic colours that can be used individually or combined together. Let us now see how each individual colour of the Aulomacolor filter range, interacts with a black and white film.



Amber filter

The amber filter works in a similar way to the classic yellow filter. It offers an excellent balance between photographic effect and ease of use, making it a useful and versatile accessory. Many photographers prefer the amber filter to the yellow filter to "make the clouds stand out more". This is because the amber filter darkens the blue sky more, giving greater visual separation between the darkened sky and the white clouds on the final print. An amber filter procure a better penetration of haze and fog, especially when using a pinhole camera. Although an amber filter darkens blues, it reproduces greens, yellows, oranges and reds in lighter shades. This gives greater differentiation between different colours of foliage, flesh tones will take on a more natural look by emphasising wrinkles and facial features, while making buildings and yellow surfaces white.



pinhole 4x5 with amber filter

Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with amber filter Aulomacolor installed


photo taken with amber filter

Photo taken with pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with amber filter, how you can see the contrast between sky and cloud is amplified, while the red building get a grey shade less intense

Orange filter

Orange filters give more contrasty effects than amber filters, but are not as extreme as the red filter, so it is a good compromise to combine effects that can be achieved with both. Blue skies will result in very dark tones on the print, giving a strong contrast between the sky and the clouds. An orange filter such as amber will also penetrate haze and fog. Most flowers will be registered with a significant difference in tone to the surrounding foliage, giving impact and effect.



pinhole 4x5 with oramge filter

Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with orange filter Aulomacolor installed


photo taken with orange filter

Photo taken with pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with orange filter, how you can see the contrast between sky and cloud is more amplified than using an amber filter, while the red building get a pale grey shade.

Dark Red filter

A red filter can create bold and dramatic effects. It is perhaps the most popular and widely used filter in black-and-white photography. With this filter, blue skies appear black on the print, creating an ominous sky effect like an impending storm, emphasising the white clouds. Images of buildings can gain in drama and clarity, or go totally flat if you have red brick buildings. A red filter will also give a marked penetration of haze and fog. When photographing flowers with a red filter you will get a marked difference in tone with the foliage, turning blue and violet flowers into black and making red or orange flowers white. The dark red Aulomacolor filter emphasises these grey contrasts even more, providing surprising effects with pinhole cameras.



pinhole 4x5 with red filter

Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with dark red filter Aulomacolor installed


photo taken with dark red filter

Photo taken with pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with red filter, how you can see the sky is black, while the building's exposed bricks results almost white.

Green filter

The green filter is often mistreated, considered a solution suitable only for lightening lawns and leaves, in reality the green filter darkens the reds and oranges and is perfect for photographing industrial architecture in brick or city buildings with exposed bricks, giving drama and contrast to the photograph, not to mention the results that can be obtained in fields of poppies or on sandy ground with shades close to orange. When photographing with a professional Auloma pinhole camera, the green filter greatly improves the resolution of the photographs obtained.



pinhole 4x5 with green filter

Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with green filter Aulomacolor installed


photo taken with green filter

Photo taken with pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with green filter, how you can see the brick-coloured building takes on a clearly defined dark hue.

Dark Blue Filter

A blue filter is seldom used in black-and-white photography, however, there are famous shots taken with this filter due to its property of emphasizing the effect of haze or fog. Aulomacolor dark blue filter brightens blues into whites. When compared to the green filter, you can see that the dark blue filter darkens yellows, oranges and reds more, aiding in the separation of greys in photographs that contain objects of all colours.



pinhole 4x5 con filtro blu scuro

Pinhole camera Auloma Magnificat 4x5 with dark blue filter Aulomacolor installed


photo taken with dark ble filter

Photograph taken with Auloma Magnificat 4x5 camera with dark blue Aulomacolor filter, as you can see the first building on the left is straw yellow with a dark grey tone and the sky is almost white.

To find out about our Aulomacolor filters, please visit our dedicated page

Black and White Filters ❱

To view our pinhole cameras visit our pinhole camera page

Pinhole Camera ❱

Or go directly to our shop online

Go to e-shop Attaphoto ❱