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12-17-2016, 09:05 AM   #1
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Filters, Filters, and more Filters!

I found this article...actually I was reading through an old B&H catalog and found it and fortunately it was reproduced online. I found some pure gold.

GO HERE>>>>>>A Guide to Filters for Lenses | B&H Explora

I've never used a filter (of any kind) nor have I ever understood why people use them or what kind to even consider.

If possible I would 1) like to use the above article as a format for the discussion and 2) get further input from those here in the know. A running discussion over a long period of time that people can refer to and learn from is what I have in mind.

I mean I seriously know NOTHING about filters but now (after reading that article) I am having a bit of a light bulb moment.

For example:

"Aside from UV/Haze and Skylight filters, what other types of filters should I consider for everyday picture-taking?

If you photograph landscapes—or any outdoor scenics for that matter—you should certainly have a Polarizing filter handy at all times. Polarizing filters are best known for making clouds seemingly pop out from darkened blue skies, saturating colors and eliminating glare and reflections from the surfaces of water, glass and other polished surfaces.

(see photo examples in the link)

Polarizing filters are mounted in a secondary ring that you manually rotate while viewing your subject through the viewfinder until you dial in the desired level of Polarization. The downside of Polarizing filters is that you lose about three stops of light in the process of optimizing the image, but the results cannot be mimicked using Photoshop plug-ins or other forms of post-capture voodoo."



Here is another snippet:

"What are Neutral Density filters and how would I use them?

Neutral density (ND) filters are essentially gray-toned filters designed to absorb calibrated degrees of light as it passes through the lens. Most commonly broken down in 1/3, 2/3 and full-stop increments, ND filters are more recently also available as variable-density filters that you can infinitely adjust by rotating the filter on its mount as you would a Polarizing filter.

There are many applications for ND filters. Chief among them is their ability to allow you to shoot at wider f-stops under bright lighting conditions. ND filters are used extensively by filmmakers and videographers as tools that allow them better exposure control due to the limited shutter-speed options afforded by the cinema and video process.

ND filters also make it possible to blur the movement of pedestrian traffic and flowing water under bright lighting conditions by allowing you to drop your shutter speeds while maintaining full control of how much or how little depth of field you desire, based on the amount of ND filtration you place in front of the lens."


and another...

"What’s the difference between Neutral Density and Graduated Neutral Density Filters?

Neutral density filters are even, edge to edge, in their degree of density while graduated neutral density filters are typically clear on one end and slowly build up density toward the opposite side of the filter. Graduated ND filters are most commonly used to even out scenes containing extreme exposure variations on opposite sides of the frame."


(see photos in the link)

and another...

"I’ve seen photographers using red, green, yellow, and other color filters. Aside from making everything look red, green, yellow, etc, when should I consider using color filters?

While color filters do make everything look red, yellow, green or whatever color you might place in front of the lens, their most common use is for black-and-white photography.

When shooting black and white, the color of the filter being used blocks that color from reaching the film (or sensor) surface, which depending on the filter color and subject matter, can drastically change its tonal qualities. As an example, shooting through a yellow filter better delineates clouds against blue skies. Orange filters further darken blue skies and make the clouds pop more, and red filters darken blue skies even more and make the clouds pop out most dramatically.

Green filters on the other hand, are effective at improving skin tones in black-and-white portraits."


I am finding this topic to be quite fascinating. I have a pack of filters (somewhere) that are yet unopened that were given to me so I might go out and try some (if I can find them).

I would though like to carry on a meaningful discussion here about the use of filters. Don't just tell me, show me examples (as he did in the article)

Like I said, I would like to carry on a running conversation about this and maybe even have a photo album/post your pics thread here so we can refer to it and learn from it. Who knows, maybe it could even become a sticky.

I don't really know what else to add but all I can say is this shed some light on a subject that I never knew anything about and it's worthy of much more meaningful discussion.

12-17-2016, 09:14 AM   #2
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For digital photography I'd say the only essential filter is a polarizer, because it's simply not possible to mimic the effects of a polarizer in PP. For other kinds of filters, it's more a question of how one likes to work, because there's a PP equivalent for pretty much everything else.

Of course film shooters have different constraints, especially b/w photography.
12-17-2016, 11:44 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
For digital photography I'd say the only essential filter is a polarizer, because it's simply not possible to mimic the effects of a polarizer in PP. For other kinds of filters, it's more a question of how one likes to work, because there's a PP equivalent for pretty much everything else.

Of course film shooters have different constraints, especially b/w photography.
I disagree. There's not really a post-processing equivalent to Infrared filters. If you're shooting flash outside in bright daylight to fill shadows, it's either HSS or a weak (usually variable) ND filter, neither of which are post-processing tricks.

Also, if you scan your film, it's pretty easy to simulate coloured filters.
12-17-2016, 12:51 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithedreamer Quote
I disagree. There's not really a post-processing equivalent to Infrared filters. If you're shooting flash outside in bright daylight to fill shadows, it's either HSS or a weak (usually variable) ND filter, neither of which are post-processing tricks
This. No way to do PP for glassy water either, if you want loooooooonnng exposures to create that.

12-17-2016, 01:00 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
I would though like to carry on a meaningful discussion here about the use of filters. Don't just tell me, show me examples (as he did in the article)
You should keep in mind that while B&H's articles can indeed be informative, they're in the market to sell you things. Keep in mind why an author might feel the way they feel, rather than just accepting information as true or false.

Anyway, I also wrote some posts on filters. They include examples of how I use my filters in the field.

Why I use the filters I use

Filter buying guide and FAQ
12-17-2016, 01:18 PM   #6
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Point taken about infrared, and use of the ND for flash and/or wide-open shooting in bright light.

Glassy water, OTOH, can be done by combining short exposures. Not saying this is how I would do it; all the film shooting I've been doing lately has me in more of a "get it right in camera" mindset, but it's easy enough to do.
12-18-2016, 07:46 AM   #7
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It's maybe worth mentioning the cheaptacular approach of using a welding shade as an ND filter. This was a $5 welding mask filter, I think shade number 10. This translates to a heavy green cast and about 13-stops worth of ND-filter. From top to bottom, the uncorrected version, my attempt to colour correct in lightroom, and a B&W conversion.

Obviously not ideal, but for $5 I figured it was worth playing around with to see if spending $$ on a fancy high strength ND filter was worth it for me. So far, the answer for me is no, I just don't have a use for it that I care enough about.



QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
Glassy water, OTOH, can be done by combining short exposures. Not saying this is how I would do it; all the film shooting I've been doing lately has me in more of a "get it right in camera" mindset, but it's easy enough to do.
You can do it in camera on a dslr with multi-exposure mode. I'm thinking you might have gaps between frames that could be visible for some subjects (say moving light sources), but for water it's worked fine in a pinch to give me a few extra stops. My camera is limited to 10 frames, newer Pentax models have a 2000 frame limit.
.
12-18-2016, 08:36 AM   #8
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Filters

A fun experiment with a polarizer used as an ND filter. I shot this from the roof-top walkway of a bus station in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. With a ten second exposure, a car and buses disappear leaving only the trace of the tail lights. The polarizing filter provided approximately two extra stops below f/16. Pentax K-r with SMC Takumar 28mm f3.5.


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