Guide to Ricoh GRD IV – Hi Contrast Black & White


Another round of Photographer Digest (my first & previous one was about Zone Focusing). This is my second one with a bit more samples. So, Here it is!

I normally shoot with the plain black and white filter. Usually I got nice results from time to time depends on the mood. Tonight I forced myself to try with the hi-contrast black and white filter. It’s got a very coarse grainy film like effect.

I came up with a few thoughts after shooting with this filter tonight. To be fair I had not taken any good shots and basically all of them go in to my trash bin. It’s always good to see realize my own failure and correct it on the next shoot.

It’s extremely difficult to get a good shot with the right ‘CONTRAST’ given I set my exposure to -0.3EV the whole time (at night). It’s challenging to have any contrast when the environment hardly had any light on. It’s not ideal to use this filter in dark places. The high ISO will make your photo even worse.

Right before I go to bed, I played with my Ricoh’s exposure. I wondered why the filter is  always making my photos so damn dark. I bumped up the exposure value to give it a shot. Surprise! I got myself a hi-fi black and white photo that retain most of the details I want. Speaking of enlightenment.

With the Hi-Contrast Black & White filter, exposure control is your stick shifter.

When it’s dim, bump up the exposure value marginally – so as the ISO (as you’re going to get a slower shutter speed). When it’s bright, tune down your exposure value to get more details off the shadows and such.

-0.3 EV
+1 EV
-0.7 EV
+0.7 EV
0 EV
+0.7 EV

As you see the samples i’ve taken, the exposure requires changing, even the lighting it’s pretty much control indoor. We can’t just stick with the 0 or -0.3 EV the whole time like how we do everyday. And at last I’ll show you a hi-fi black & white of myself by bumping up the EV to 1.7. I’m backlighted in the mirror. It’s perfectly normal to set the EV above 0.

0 EV
+1.7 EV (i like posing with a camera :P)

I know this is not an orthodox method of producing images in the standard photography world. But this is how I get the best result out of the Ricoh image filter. See for yourself!

Any other thoughts you would like to share are welcome 🙂

P.S. I’m putting up a Tumblr blog titled: Alan P. in Hong Kong. It can be accessed from my header link all the way at the top. It’s basically a supplement of this blog with odd/offbeat/blurred/random street encounters in images; not necessarily street photography per se, as some are not qualified to be. Go follow me if you’re using the Tumblr platform too.