Wondering what filter to use?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.