Color filters are commonly used for black and white photography, but you can use it for creative effect however you see fit.
A common problem in black and white photography is that certain colours look very similar when converted into grayscale. Even some shades of red, green, and blue look completely different in colour, but almost identical in black and white. That’s where colour filters can help. They absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflects others, which helps create a bigger contrast between colours as they appear as different intensities of black and white in your photographs.
Red lens filters are one of the most popular black and white photography filters. They increase visibility in haze and fog and make a blue sky appear almost black, making clouds really stand out, giving the scene a dramatic feel. Red filters can also be used for black and white nature photography to obtain more definition between flowers and foliage, particularly when shooting red flowers.
Yellow lens filters produce the most subtle effect of colour filters, allowing for it to be used in virtually any type of black and white photography. When shooting landscapes the effect will be a subtle contrast compared to the one produced by the red lens filter – slightly darker skies and whiter clouds to balance the dark tone of the ground. In portrait photography, they produce warm, natural, pleasing skin tones. They will also increase the contrast of foliage in nature photography.
Orange lens filters sit between Red and Yellow lens filters and offer a beautiful balance between the effects of the other two lens filters, which makes it a great option for general purposes. In black and white portrait photography, Orange lens filters reduce the appearance of freckles and blemishes, giving the skin a healthy, smooth look. When photographing buildings and cityscapes, the orange tone gives bricks a pleasing tone and increases the contrast between different materials to add depth and texture to the image.
Green lens filters are useful in more specific applications such as plant photography, to separate the green foliage from the brightly-coloured flowers and buds. Similarly for landscape photography to boost the vibrancy of grass and trees. It’s worth noting that green lens filters can lighten the color of the sky.
Blue lens filters are not commonly used in black and white photography since it reduces contrast and makes grey/black colors even darker. However, they can be used when you want to get create a smoother less contrasting effect.
Grey lens filters reduce contrast by evening out the exposure difference between the highlights and shadows in your frame. Ideal for shooting the sky on overcast days to bring out the detail in the clouds.