My Very Sophisticated Filter Tests

Testing a magenta filter with my homemade lumen camera and Kodak multi-grade IV.


sonny rosenberg

5/23/20232 min read

First let me confess that I know almost nothing about using contrast filters with multi-grade papers. My little homemade enlarger isn't fitted for filters and I normally use graded paper, so there.

Nonetheless, I have been aware that contrast filters do exist, so when Alisha (director of education at the Holland Project) suggested I might try contrast filters with the multi grade paper they had, it put a bug in my ear and I kept thinking about it.

A couple days later Donna, our now grown up foster child, brought over a bag of Teresa's cookies from the Philippines that are really cakes made of compressed powder. That doesn't sound wonderful, but they're actually really good and don't make you choke like I thought they might. I suspect they're made from sesame seeds as they have a flavor reminiscent of Halvah, but I seem to be digressing here.

In any case, the Teresa's cakes are wrapped in gelatin not celophane that comes in several colors: blue, yellow, green and magenta. I took it upon myself to wash and dry several of the gels, and last night I fitted a magenta gel to a cardboard frame for the Cadobo cam.

Today I had the opportunity to make a few exposures with the Kodak IV MG paper that I'm currently favoring. There not dramatically different from the unfiltered shots, but (and this is probably my imagination) I see a subtle richness to the colors that doesn't seem to be there without the filter. I don't see a dramatic increase in contrast although I've been told that magenta filters do increase contrast.

One side effect that doesn't surprise me, is that the highly sophisticated but nonetheless wrinkly filter that I fabricated pretty much eliminates the very tenous spot of clear focus with this camera (which utilizes a 50mm Lumenbox lens from Jorge Otero). I think I like the overall effect though. I find the slightly richer colors and overall blurriness, well, interesting.

Another benefit of this paper, as I've mentioned before, is that I did very little or no color curve tweaking with these shots. Something about that just seems more honest and more in accord with my aged sensibilities.

If I feel comfortable taking a break from working on the roof and re-learning Maya (a 3D animation software), I may even cobble up a yellow filter and try it.

Oh, the actual exposure times are (from left to right): 1 hour, 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours. I think the 2 hour exposure was too long, but I find the first two shots appealing.