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How to Keep Consistent Dark Skin Tones B&W


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#1 Jon Schweigart

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 03:36 PM

I'm wondering how to consistently make skin tones darker without underexposing the image while still keeping contrast. I like the look of dark faces in black and white photography. I don't mean the color of the persons skin I mean having a person with a fair complexion appear darker without losing overall contrast like darker than middle gray with no loss of detail and bright white teeth.

Should I try to expose it for darker than middle gray such as with an incident light reading?

I've noticed reversal stocks do this well but I'm looking for consistency. Maybe shoot a gray card too dark so they time it accordingly. Any ideas?
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 05:10 PM

You can use a blue filter to darken skintones.
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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 05:32 PM

I've heard of a Green #11 filter being used for beauty work in B&W, though I haven't tried it myself. Using a green filter will subtract red and orange light, and therefore will darken skintones. I would start with green, but perhaps you should also test blue filters as Max suggests, personally I've always hated yellow filters for skin but you could take a look at those as well.

As a side note, I've been told that Plus-X motion picture film and Plus-X still film are the same emulsion, though I don't know for sure if it's true. But you could probably shoot still film tests with it and get an accurate idea of what you'll get with the motion picture stock.
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 05:42 PM

Basically you want a filter with the opposite color of skintones, hence why I suggested blue (the opposite of red), but maybe other filters work also?
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#5 Jon Schweigart

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:54 PM

Thanks guys, I don't know why but I forgot all about filters. I'm thinking it might depend on natural skin color.

Here's something I've always wondered. Which is true for complimentary color in film. In art blue and orange are complimentary but in HSV its blue and yellow.

If they are tanner I think a blue would increase darkness (closer to orange its complimentary color).

I own a 80a filter. Or is there something closer?
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#6 Mike Williamson

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 10:07 PM

The color complement for red is cyan. Both blue and green are very close to cyan, and a filter of either color will subtract red light and darken skin tones. My guess is that yellow is the second most dominant color in caucasian skin, which would mean that blue would be theoretically more subtractive than green. Theory aside, I think you should shoot a test and compare different filters in the blue/green area of the spectrum and see what looks best to you.

Also, as far as I know, there is no cyan filter for black and white photography. I recall Bojan Bazelli having Harrison and Harrison make two of cyan filters of different strengths for "The Ring", but I don't know if those would be available for purchase.
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#7 David Rakoczy

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 06:36 AM

Maybe shoot a gray card too dark so they time it accordingly. Any ideas?
[/quote]

That will do the opposite. When the Colorist/ Timer brings up your Gray Card they will bring that to "Normal' and since you are underexposing the Gray Card they will Brighten it and all the rest of the following footage as well. You are better off exposing the Gray Card (Normally) the Lighting and exposing the rest the [way you want it to look]. That is what Gray Cards & Color Charts are for. They say "Hey STOP! This is Normal.. after this what you see is what I painted".
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