Yellow Filters and B&W Film

I have recently acquired a yellow filter for my 5omm 1.4 lens. Why? Because it’s supposed to create more detailed and moodier shadows with deeper hues. Plus it sounds really fun.

I’ve never used lens filters of any type in my journey thus far. This will be a first for me, and I’m excited for several reasons. When shooting film, black & white film to be specific, you typically can’t see through the lens in a monochrome setting.

This means you have to basically ‘pretend’ to see the world in b&w while choosing your shots and settings. When you slap on a yellow filter – you guessed it – you see the world in yellow. Kinda like those ugly sunglasses. This has definitely helped me see in a monochrome type setting to get a better idea of what my final product will look like.

So what exactly does the yellow filter actually do? I’m going to respond by prefacing the fact that I am shooting Kodak Tri-X 400 black & white film. This is a notoriously famous b&w film that will basically never die. It has an amazing ability to be pushed and pulled with some of the most iconic grain ever.

I want to shoot at a higher ASA than 400. So, I plan to push my film to 1600 – 3200. While using the yellow filter causes me to lose a stop of light, it helps me to collect more of that amazing grain.

Say I’m pushing the film to 1600, which is 2 stops from 400. I’m really only getting 1 extra stop, or an 800 film speed. BUT – I’m getting that beautiful grain from 1600 at the same time.

Again… why? Well, I want a film that will be incredibly versatile. Shooting the Tri-x 400 in this manor is going to be great for low light and shadowy situations.

Do you have to push the film when using a yellow filter? No, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. This is your film and your camera! Say you shoot it at box speed (400). You’re really shooting it at 200, because you’ve lost a stop of light. But, the clouds will look a bit darker and your highlights toned down.

If you’re looking for a great b&w film, I highly recommend this stuff. I’ve shot a handful of rolls and can’t put it down. I just bought 10 rolls of Tri-x just for this upcoming trip alone.

Another great b&w film I’ve fallen in love with would be Ilford Delta 3200. Give that a quick search on and tell me you don’t like it too.

This will be a great learning experience and you’ll see the results in about a week from this post. Heading out with the Nikon Fm2, Pentax K1000, Nikon L35AF and last but not least, the Polaroid OneStep. No digital cameras (other than the Iphone, the best camera you’ll ever have) allowed.


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