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Wondering what filter to use? | Camera House

Wondering what filter to use?

by CameraHouse

Including a filter or two in your kit can change the look and feel of your photos for the better.

Whether you’re shooting digital or film, you’ll find that if you begin to incorporate the use of filters into your photography you’ll achieve much more professional results. Polarising and neutral density filters or even colour converters are useful additions for any photo enthusiast’s camera kit ( though a lot of colour correction can be done via white balance with a digital camera). Still, you’ll be surprised how the addition of filters can make an image look much more natural as they help your camera to compensate between the way your eye processes an image, to how your camera sees it… This is the reason that most snapshots lack the look and feel of reality. Your camera simply doesn’t process or see things the way your brain does. Similarly, the use of a filter can help you cheat with the look and feel that you want – say by bumping up the colours on an overly bright day or when shooting in the midday sun.

Here’s a rundown on some basic filters that will help you achieve better looking photos.

POLARISING FILTERS

A blue yellow polarising lens is great for picking up the depth of blue in the sky while also adding a much warmer tone to any earth colours in your image. It’s particularly useful when shooting at high contrast times of day such as midday – although its best to avoid using these on an ultra wide angle lens as the sky varies too much and your image can wind up looking a little weird. Also don’t forget a polarising filter will reduce the light entering your camera by 1-3 stops, so bear this in mind when taking your shot.

YELLOW FILTERS

Absolutely essential if you plan on shooting B&W film. A yellow filter will help you avoid overexposed skies and generally kicks up the tone in your photos, making them look much crisper to the naked eye.

PURPLE FILTERS

Our quest to be green friendly has a down side – fluorescent globes seem to be everywhere these days – which are an anathema to a shooter thanks to the hideous green cast they seem to give to any humans within a few feet of them. What’s the answer to avoiding that green-tinged hue? A purple filter. Presto! No one looks like the Wicked Witch of the West any more.

NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS

Popular with landscape shooters the world over, neutral density filters are available in solid or graduated formats and suppress the amount of ambient light coming into your camera. A graduated ND filter is great for enhancing detail in the foreground whilst assisting you in avoiding over exposing your background. Therefore it’s particularly effective when shooting land and seascapes. A graduated ND filter is great for this purpose as the colour of the filter fades from dark to light and can be manipulated to suit the area of your image requiring correction.

INFRARED FILTERS

Popular with shooters who like to experiment with monochrome, the infrared filter filters out all wavelengths apart from red and infrared. The result is a blood red image that can look spectacular.

UV FILTERS

Most popular with SLR shooters, UV filters not only protect your lens from everyday scratches and grime, they also reduce the effect of haze or UV scattering – so they can be particularly useful when shooting on water. However the grime they are meant to protect your lens from can just as easily wind up deposited on the filter, so be sure to clean thoroughly before use.

via Wondering what filter to use? | Camera House.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Filters, Inspiration, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography

Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography

By Nasim Mansurov

While I was photographing the beautiful scenery of the Glacier National Park at sunrise, I realized that some filters are pretty much required to get good results when photographing landscapes. While many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age, some filters in fact can never be simulated in software, while others help in getting even better results in post-processing. If you do not know what filters are and what they are used for, I highly recommend reading my “lens filters explained” article before you continue to read this one.

1) Polarizing Filter

B+W Circular Polarizing Filter

A polarizing filter is a must-have tool for landscape photography. It is typically the first filter landscape photographers buy to instantly improve their pictures and and add vividness and contrast to them. A polarizer can reduce reflections from objects such as water and glass and can be used to darken the sky, bring out the clouds and even reduce atmospheric haze, making the scene look much more vivid. For all normal lenses that have a filter thread in the front, you can get a circular polarizing filter, also known as a “circular polarizer”. A circular polarizer is very easy to use and once you attach it on the front of your lens, all you need to do is rotate it clockwise or counter-clockwise to get a different amount of polarization. Polarizing filters work by blocking certain light waves from entering the lens. Rotating a polarizer allows certain types of light waves to pass through, while blocking other ranges of light waves. Thus, you could turn a sky from light blue to very dark blue or increase/decrease reflections by simply rotating the filter.

The effect of polarization cannot be reproduced or simulated in post-processing, especially when dealing with natural reflections. Take a look at the below image:

Read more about Neutral Density Filters and more via Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in HDR, Landscape, Post Processing, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How to properly resize images in Photoshop

How to properly resize images in Photoshop

By Nasim Mansurov

If you like sharing your photographs online, whether on Facebook or on your own blog, you should learn how to properly resize your images. While your camera can take very high resolution photographs, it is always a good idea to down-size or “down-sample” those images, not only because most websites won’t accept large images, but also because making those images smaller will actually make them look better, if done correctly. In this quick tutorial, I will show you the proper way to resize images in Photoshop. I have seen people employ all kinds of different techniques when it comes to resizing images in Photoshop. The below method is how I personally do it and it has been working great for me, at least based on your feedback. You can employ this technique to any photograph – whether it is a portrait or a sweeping landscape.

When I wrote about the benefits of a high-resolution sensor, I used the word “down-sampling” when talking about reducing noise and increasing sharpness in high-resolution images. Right after I posted the article, I got plenty of questions from our readers, asking about what the down-sampling process is like and how it can be done. I then realized that many photographers are used to the term “resizing” and have never heard of the term “down-sampling” before. I often use the word “down-sampling”, because “resizing” applies to both increasing and decreasing image resolution (and hence its size), while “down-sampling” only applies to reducing an image.

Read more via How to properly resize images in Photoshop.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in General, Post Processing, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light

By tom dinning via Light Stalking

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning who, besides being a professional photographer, teacher and mini-celebrity in the Light Stalking community, has also shared some very popular tutorials in the forums and in other posts.

If you have recovered from my recent post on shooting at first light, you might be ready for something a little more sedate. Enjoy breakfast with your partner, have an extra cup of coffee, even suggest your partner might like to come along (…on second thoughts, tell him/her you’re going to the dentist). Today we are photographing in that lovely light after sunrise.

Second light – Botanic Gardens.

I call this second light because, although I hate getting up too early, my preference is still for the light before sunrise. Still, it’s a great time to be out and about, especially if you’ve pulled a ‘sicky’ from work to join me.

I’m heading for the local Botanic Gardens for no particular reason than it’s there. My kit is made up of the usual suspects: a wide zoom (14 -24mm) and mid (24-70mm) but I’ve added a macro and a long focal length (200mm) for good reason as you will see.

Today is bright and sunny so I make sure I have all my lens hoods and a hat (that’s for my balding head). The tripod is always with me. In my experience, this time of the day can be deceiving. There seems to be heaps of light about but the shadows are quite dark so there could be some moderately long shutter speeds, especially if I want an extended depth of field.

(If you’re a beginner and I’ve just lost you with that stuff about depth of field and shutter speed, ask someone on Light Stalking to explain it to you. They’re really good at that.)

In my part of the world, this time of the day always seems extra saturated with the colours and the tonal contrast is amazing. So, I take full advantage of this. It’s what I call ‘shooting for the conditions’. I can’t change the climate but I can learn to live with it.

My eyes immediately begin to search the landscape for places where this saturation and contrast brings out the best in the frame. Deep green shadows are avoided. Speckled light is hard to expose correctly so I move out into the open.

Botanic Gardens are designed. So it’s worth looking for vista’s, frames within your frame, and nooks that have been purposefully constructed to catch one’s eye.

The low angle of the Sun provides beautiful backlight, rimming the tree trunks and highlighting the foliage. I walk and watch towards the Sun. seeking out long shadows that can be used to lead the eye.

Foreground and background are important but it’s easy to clutter the frame with too much. To avoid this, I take full advantage of my walking shoes and seek the best perspective before shooting; always endeavoring to keep that sun in the background.

‘But shooting into the sun?’ I hear you say. With a bit of maneuvering, the sun can be tucked behind some foliage or a tree trunk. You will need to  watch that histogram for blow-outs (sorry, there’s nothing wrong with the tires on your car). If you’re not sure how to use it, read the Light Stalking article on how to read a histogram.

Go for detail in the shadows if you can and let the sun burn out a bit behind the trees. It gives a nice halo effect and gives the impression of a brilliant sunny day. But don’t overdo it.

Since it’s usually quiet this time of the morning there’s always an opportunity for a self-portrait. Seats are placed strategically among the trees for effect as well as rest, so include them in your shots.

Also look for those special plants, unusual textures, surprising angles and, of course, the obligatory close-up.

One thing I learnt from this trip was to watch where I leave my kit. This is the time when the gardeners are testing their sprinkler system. At least it saves me washing this week.

For some reason, Botanic Gardens are not heavily frequented by wildlife. I have more birds in my back yard. I did find a few grazing geese and a spider, but other than a stray dog and a dead cane toad, I was the only animal in the park – and even my zoological status has been questioned by some.

Now its time to finish up. You’ll have enough time to download this lot before settling on a nice lunch and a glass of Chard. Then prepare yourself for the midday run.

Thanks for joining me.

This is a guest post by Tom Dinning.

via Light Stalking » TUTORIAL: What’s your time of day? (Part 2) Shooting at Second Light.

 

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It’s a Snap: How to Pick a Digital Camera

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

by Tech News Daily

It’s hard to keep track of all the digital cameras and high-tech features out on the market, but according to experts, shoppers should be wary of all the bells and whistles offered with new devices that don’t actually enhance the quality of the photographs.

Tom Cavalieri, a student adviser at the New York Institute of Photography who works with aspiring photographers, believes digital cameras often include fancy-sounding features at higher prices that aren’t essential for taking great pictures.

“There are tons of high-quality models out there that aren’t too expensive, so people shouldn’t fall into traps of paying more for features they don’t need,” he said.

For example, Cavalieri said selecting a device that has the ability to take very high-resolution images isn’t as important as one would think.

“If you can save a couple of dollars deciding between a 10-megapixel camera and a 18-megapixel cheaper, go for the cheaper one,” Cavalieri said. “You don’t need 24 megapixels to take decent pictures, especially when so many images today are just being viewed online.”

High definition video capabilities are also making its way onto more digital cameras: “If all you want to do is take pictures, you don’t need a built-in microphone and video technology that will just add more dollars to the overall bill.”

As for picking the best one to fit your needs, Cavalieri advises avid travelers to seek out digital cameras that take batteries instead of those that rely on a plug-in charger.

“The last thing you want to worry about when traveling is finding a place to recharge your camera,” he said. “You can buy batteries almost anywhere or pack more ahead of time, so you never have to wait on your camera to be ready to go.”

Although the Internet is a key tool for researching and finding information about digital cameras, Cavalieri also suggests shoppers go into retail stores and test out different devices before making a purchase.

“Some digital cameras are heavier than people think and if it’s not comfortable and easy to hold, they might not get used,” Cavalieri said.

Camera expert Ken Rockwell, who runs the photography tip site KenRockwell.com, also encourages people to get their hands on digital cameras to make sure they can find all of the features.

“Lenses, zoom rates and resolution are basically all the same, but if you can’t figure out where all of the features are, you’ll miss capturing what your kid is doing or what funny thing is happening at a party,’ Rockwell told TechNewsDaily.

Rockwell also said that compact digital cameras have reached a mature state over the years and haven’t actually gotten better.

“If you already have a digital camera, you most likely don’t need another one to take better pictures,” Rockwell said, adding that it’s more about being a good photographer than having a high-quality expensive camera. “A pianist will be able to play a toy piano much better than someone with limited piano experience playing on a top-quality piano model.

Cellphone cameras

Rockwell believes that digital cameras are expected to slow in the next five to ten years, as more people reach into their pockets for cellphone cameras to take pictures.

“In most cases, cellphone cameras are just as good as compact digital cameras you would buy at the store,” he said. “The iPhone has a very strong built-in camera, and coupled with apps that help you edit and fine-tune colors, you may not even need to buy a new camera.”

There are a few ways to optimize an iPhone to take better pictures, Rockwell said. For example, when taking a picture of someone’s face, tapping the device’s screen showing that area will tell the camera which part of the picture is the most important and what you want to see in detail.

Meanwhile, before taking a picture on the iPhone, users can also tap a button on the bottom of the screen to adjust the brightness level. However, one drawback to cellphone cameras is that they don’t take pictures very quickly.

“If you are trying to capture something such as a sporting event in real-time, it will be difficult on a cellphone,” Rockwell said. “But missing the shot also happens at times on compact cameras. Most people don’t realize you have to push the camera button halfway down at first to preset it for exposure, focus and other key reasons.”

Pushing down the button again a few seconds later will ensure that it will go off in time to get the shot you want, Rockwell said.

The bottom line: “It doesn’t matter if you are using a camera that costs thousands of dollars,” Rockwell said. “If you aren’t using your camera right and are a bad photographer, you will just keep taking bad photographs.”

Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at smurphy@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN

via It’s a Snap: How to Pick a Digital Camera | Tech News Daily.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Featured, Inspiration, Worth a Look

 

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How to Shoot Landscapes With Bright Cloud Cover

By Light Stalking

A common problem for landscape photographers is shooting during overcast conditions in which the cloud cover is effectively a light source. White or bright overcast cloud throws up the issue that the ground and the sky require two different settings in order to expose both properly. Expose for the ground and you get a washed out, highlighted sky. Expose for the sky and you get an under-exposed ground.

Assuming that you absolutely want to include the sky in your shot (not including the sky is sometimes the simplest solution), there are two main ways to attack this conundrum.

Photograph by Brook Peterson

Get Your Filter On

Almost every landscape photographer worth their salt will have a set of graduated filters for these (and other) conditions. The Cokin filter holders are popular among many DSLR users and hold the various graduated filters that a perfect for this situation.

Photo of an ND Grad Filter by Scalespeeder

Which filters will you need though?

For bright overcast skies with the ground darker, the obvious filter to use is a Neutral Density Graduated Filter (ND Grad). As these filters are graduated from dark to light (see image above), the effect is to darken the sky while keeping the ground at the same exposure. There are several that you should consider carrying in your pack.

The ND Grad 1 (ND 0.3) will darken the sky by one stop. The ND Grad 2 (ND 0.6) will darken it by two stops. Combined, the ND0.3 and ND0.6 will darken the sky by three stops. You can also get an ND Grad 3 (ND 0.9) which is also quite common in ND Grad filter kits. On a Cokin filter holder which has three slots, you can stack these in front of each other or use only one or two.

You can also get ND 2 Grads filters which have two different levels of graduation as well as a clear area at the bottom of the filter.

And finally, if you would like to draw specific attention to the horizon, then you can invert two of your ND Grad filters (ie. put one upside down) so that the sky and the foreground are both stopped down to give an effect similar to the photograph below. (You can also buy a single filter that’s graduated from both the top and the bottom to give the same effect). Notice how the top of the sky and the bottom of the foreground are darker and the horizon is brightest.

Encinitas Sunset
Photograph by Phil Price

For a great primer on using strong ND Grad filters, check out this article by Chris Gin, a New Zealand landscape photographer and friend of Light Stalking.

What If I Don’t Have a Filter?

If you don’t yet have any ND Grad filters, then there is another option!

Hopefully you have a tripod (alternatively, you can make sure you stabilise your camera some other way) and some post-processing software.

With this second option, you will need to take two images using different shutter speeds.

The first one, you expose so that the sky is properly exposed (the ground will be terribly under-exposed in most cases).

The second shot, you expose so that the ground is properly exposed with a longer shutter speed (the sky will usually be blown out with highlights).

Note: Leave the aperture and ISO the same for both shots. You don’t want different depth of field or noise for each shot. Change only shutter speed.

Next you will want to open both images in Photoshop and, after selecting one as your base, import the other so that you have two layers. (Simply open the second one, hit CTRL-A and CTRL-C, then open the base one and hit CTRL-V).

Use the eraser brush tool at a large size with a soft edge to simply erase the poorly exposed area of the top layer. This combines the well exposed ground with the well exposed sky.

Light Stalking’s Chistopher O’Donnell also has a good tutorial on combining layers over at the Photo Argus that is worth a read for an alternate method.

These are the two most basic ways to deal with overexposed and cloudy skies for landscape photography. It’s nothing particularly technical, but knowing these simple techniques can save you from the heartache of those blown out skies on overcast days.

via Light Stalking » How to Shoot Landscapes With Bright Cloud Cover.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2011 in General, Landscape, Technique, Tutes & Tips, Worth a Look

 

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How to Properly Clean Your Camera Lens

by  Michael Zhang · Apr 14, 2011

Here’s a pretty lengthy video tutorial by the (unofficial) Nikon Help Hotline channel on YouTube teaching how to properly and thoroughly clean a camera lens.

(via Lifehacker)

via How to Properly Clean Your Camera Lens at PetaPixel.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in General, Technique, Tutes & Tips

 

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