Color Filtering in Black & White Revisited


While perusing photographs for Wednesday’s blog, I came across an interesting color shot that I had shown before—Lobster Traps.  A gigantic pile of yellow, blue, purple, red, and orange lobster traps.  What a great subject, I thought, to revisit my blogs on color filtering to obtain the best black and white conversions.  The first blog on the subject covered how to use color filters, either over the lens or internal digital filtering built into the camera, to obtain such effects.  That blog was titled Black & White Photography—It’s All in the Color.  The second blog was Black & White Filtering After the Picture is Taken (and with FREE Software!).

In that first blog I used a multicolored slinky-type toy to show the different effects of color filtering.  As I looked at those lobster traps, though, I thought to myself, “What a great outdoor subject to demonstrate the same effect.”  So, once again using my favorite free photo editing software package, Google’s Picasa, I filtered the image using the most popular landscape and portrait color filters to show the effects on contrasts following conversion from color to black and white.

Remember your effects—warmer colors (yellow through red) are generally used to enhance landscapes, and cooler colors (greens) help in the conversion of most skin tones.  The first shot in the sequence below is the original color with increased saturation to multiply the subsequent filtering effects.  The next photograph shows conversion to black & white without any filtering.  Following that the pictures are in this order of filtering:  Light Green, Light Yellow, Red, and Dark Green.  I deliberately put the Red and Dark Green examples next to each other, as their effects should be complete opposites and will show the most contrast.  Likewise, the Light Green example resides beside the Light Yellow conversion to show the subtlety of even small amounts of filtering at opposite ends of the color spectrum.

While you’re studying the effects on the lobster traps, don’t forget to look at the surrounding foliage and note how the warmer filters progressively darken the leaves while the cooler filters lighten them.  Indeed, the leaves should appear very dark under red filtering, and nearly white when filtered for green . . . and I’m making this prediction before I’ve even done the conversions.

Let’s see if my predictions are correct:

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