MONO MANUAL Do you still need filters?
With black-and-white film you use yellow, red, green, and other filters to change the tonal balance
Filters have always been a very important part of black-and-white photography. A coloured filter will let light of that colour pass through but block others, so that although the image is still in black-andwhite, you can make some colours appear darker and others appear lighter. Landscape photographers would typically use a yellow filter to slightly darken blue skies and make foliage brighter, or stronger orange or red filters to boost dramatic skies and enhance contrast in sunlit scenes. Here’s how it works with digital cameras.
The key thing about digital sensors is that they initially capture the scene in full colour, whatever the settings you’ve chosen on the camera. The image is converted into black-andwhite either in the camera or in your RAW conversion software.
You can use black-andwhite filters on your D-SLR, but you’re simply restricting the colours captured by the sensor – with a red filter, for example, only the red photosites will respond. The grains in black and white film respond to all colours.
As a result, there’s little point in using filters. In fact, you’re restricting your options later. It’s better to shoot in colour ( RAW, ideally) and use software black-and-white conversion tools to adjust the way colours are rendered.