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Black & White Viewing Filter


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#1 schattenundlicht

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 14:41

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The forgotten accessory...

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@everybody: forum search does not work properly on my iPhone. If anyone is aware of a duplicate thread, please point me towards it.

@admin/mods: this thread most propably is slightly off topic in any forum category , so please feel free to move it to where you deem it least intrusive.

Ansel Adams used it on a daily basis and propagated it in his books and courses. Yet nowadays, no one seems to use it anymore. It is even rather hard to acquire a specimen in Europe. Is it justly obsolete or wrongly forgotten?

Although indispensable for classic zone exposure, is it useful at all as a production tool or didactic instrument in the here and now?

[ To those of you who are happily too young to even know what I am talking about: A b&w viewing filter darkens the image and smudges the colors so that color contrast, which normally dominates our daylight visual processing, is subdued and luminosity contrast, which is of essence for b&w photography, becomes more easily apperceptible. This trick works only for a few seconds, then cortical postprocessing gears up to adapt. ]

With digital photography, it is easy to set the camera to OOC b&w jpeg to preview the image wysiwyg. With DNG/raw capture there is a large leeway for changing color balance during b&w conversion in post. With film, however, you have to be either rather experienced and self-confident or you will have to wait eagerly for negative development in order to be sure that you judged the „photographability“ of a scene and its b&w rendering correctly.

Thus the question is: Is anybody else airing a viewing filter together with his or her I, II, III or M?

Does anyone use it
- regularly
- rarely
- for production
- for teaching
- for fun
- ...
?

I must admit that I also like the opportunity of developing my previsualization skills even in situations where I do not happen to carry a camera.

Kind regards
Mathias

Edited by schattenundlicht, 13 February 2018 - 14:53.


#2 Michael Hiles

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 16:05

Fred Picker (of Zone VI fame) made and sold such items. He had various sizes (35mm 3:2 ; square ; 4:5) all in durable plastic frames. I have the 35mm one.
 
I use it occasionally. I like it for composing and (less so) to get a sense of the tones that will appear in the final picture. 
 
A useful item for pre-visualizing. But it seems that roughly no one does this in the sense that Ansel Adams meant it. For me, I try to pre-visualize for an easily printable exposure – good shadow detail and no blown high tones by using my spot meter effectively. No modified development of course, but with a film like XP2 Super, N+/- 1 or 2 is not so necessary. A well-exposed standard negative and variable contrast paper (probably with split grade printing) gives lots of possibility. 

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Michael

I would like to manage to prevent people from ever seeing how a picture of mine has been done. What can it possibly matter? What I want is that the only thing emanating from my pictures should be emotion. - Pablo Picasso

#3 pico

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 22:26

I have had a couple and tried them but never achieved the knack. More power to those who found it useful. What was it supposed to do - filter out colors to let luminescence alone show through?



#4 schattenundlicht

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 22:46

I have had a couple and tried them but never achieved the knack. More power to those who found it useful. What was it supposed to do - filter out colors to let luminescence alone show through?

Yep.

Ansel Adams (The Negative):

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#5 pico

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 22:54

The filter should be held in front of the eye for short intervals only...

 

That is where I messed up.



#6 schattenundlicht

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 23:20

That is where I messed up.


The brain‘s ability to quickly adapt to quite drastic changes in lighting conditions plays against the photographer in this case. The brownish grey of the filter is quickly „subtracted“ (visual physiologists and psychologists please be tolerant of this gross oversimplification) from the scene and the original colors become discernible again. This ability to „reconstruct“ the natural environment in a reliable and reproducible fashion is deeply hardwired because of the crucial evolutionary role it played in individual and species survival. Yet, for a few moments, the b&w viewing filter does the job.
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#7 chrism

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 13:38

Stearman Press are selling a modern equivalent here.


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#8 schattenundlicht

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 15:23

Stearman Press are selling a modern equivalent here.

Cool.

 

The Tiffen is 8x more expensive in Europe. I hope it will be a bit sturdier ;-)



#9 Chuck Albertson

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 17:53

Just squint. (Ansel Adams called it "previsualization").



#10 schattenundlicht

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 19:16

Just squint. (Ansel Adams called it "previsualization").

A man with Adams‘ talent and experience most probably could previsualize without squinting, whereas even the best viewing filter will not turn me into an Ansel...

Like many photography amateurs still using film (although not exclusively), I have a romantic streak. I enjoy using historical techniques and technologies that were employed by the forefathers, even more so, if they help with refining my photographic view, or even just for the fun of it ;)

Edited by schattenundlicht, 20 February 2018 - 19:27.

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