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04-15-2009, 05:19 AM   #1
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A question about filters

Ok, so it's more like 15 questions about filters.....
I know that I had mentioned in my intro that I am a photo n00b...well, I have a Pentax K200D, with Tameron lenses (25-80mm and a 75-300 macro). As an amateur who takes a lot of pictures of our cats, and I like doing wild bird photography, I’ve been noticing that a lot of my lower light photos have the colors washed out or the whole picture gets a yellow tint... the settings I use have little to no effect, and for some of the colorful birds pictures I’m taking, that’s a real shame...but I can deal with some of that.... However, in about a month, I’ll be attending a wedding for my wife’s best friend and don’t want to waste a single picture due to my lack of experience or accessories….(I’m expecting florescent lighting at the location)

So, is it me, my lack of filter use, my lack of photo editing software?...or all three?

Because of this, I’ve been looking at filters recently (since I have a feeling that is at least part of my problem), mostly on Amazon. And I honestly have no clue what I’m looking at…
So here are just a few of my filter questions;
Should I buy a florescent, UV and a polarized?
Is one more useful that the others?
Does the quality (price) of a filter make that much of a difference from one to the next?
Are there different grades of each filter that I should be concerned with which specific one I get?
Should I spend my (limited) funds on photo editing/enhancing software instead? (or is there a good, free software that can get the job done?)

Sorry that was a TON of questions, but my Google searches only ever turn up guides for Nikon….and the books that I have on the subject are about 30 years old and recommend I use a different developing fluid…yeah, that will help....

Thanks, Auto-


Last edited by Automan21k; 04-15-2009 at 06:25 AM.
04-15-2009, 06:39 AM   #2
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First things first:

Back in the film days, films were "color balanced" for certain light sources, mainly "daylight" or "tungsten", and from those two, we use to correct color light variances with filters.

Today with digital photography, there is no film, only a sensor which in reality, is "color blind". The color balancing is done via software (firmware) in camera and can be dialed in as daylight, overcast, fluorescent (3 settings), shadow, etc and one last but very usefull setting, which is AUTO WHITE BALANCE.

If your pictures are coming out consistently yellow, I guess your white balance setting is adjusted to shadow or overcast. Switch it to AWB or plain daylight and check the color balance difference.

With all said before, I guess you are getting the idea. With digital photography there is no need for color correction filters. If you want to use UV FILTERS as lens protectors, then its ok, but color correction is not needed. In fact, (others, please correct me if I'm wrong), the only filters needed with digital photography are: Polarizers, Protectors (if you want to) and Neutral Density (if needed to lower light levels). All others are nonsense. Of course, if you want to use some special effects filters, then by all means, do so.

About your friend's wedding, I do not mean to be rude here, but I have to ask you if you are going to be the ONLY photographer or just want to shoot some extra pics and there's gonna be a pro photographer at the ceremony. I have to ask this because a wedding is a once in a lifetime event, and NO ONE wants to take chances when recording memories of such events. If you are gonna be the only photographer, I believe you have to warn your friend that you are a begginner and things may not go smooth. But in any case, I suggest you practice a lot before, looking for similar situations like family gatherings, church, etc.
04-15-2009, 06:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
About your friend's wedding, I do not mean to be rude here, but I have to ask you if you are going to be the ONLY photographer or just want to shoot some extra pics and there's gonna be a pro photographer at the ceremony. I have to ask this because a wedding is a once in a lifetime event, and NO ONE wants to take chances when recording memories of such events. If you are gonna be the only photographer, I believe you have to warn your friend that you are a begginner and things may not go smooth. But in any case, I suggest you practice a lot before, looking for similar situations like family gatherings, church, etc.
no, I will not be the only photographer, but part of our gift to her will be making a book of the pictures we take. in addition, I was thinking about handing an SD of the pictures I take to the pro photographer they hired incase I caught something he missed. after all this is all about her, and I'm not about to be petty about claiming credit for the pictures I took.
Thanks for the advice, that cut down alot on my potential expenses.
04-15-2009, 07:04 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote
no, I will not be the only photographer, but part of our gift to her will be making a book of the pictures we take. in addition, I was thinking about handing an SD of the pictures I take to the pro photographer they hired incase I caught something he missed. after all this is all about her, and I'm not about to be petty about claiming credit for the pictures I took.
Thanks for the advice, that cut down alot on my potential expenses.
Better to get a card (business card) from the photographer, then later you can send him a burned CD with your pics. Your SD memory is more valuable and many never come back.

04-15-2009, 07:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
Better to get a card (business card) from the photographer, then later you can send him a burned CD with your pics. Your SD memory is more valuable and many never come back.
we have a few old 1 gig cards we dont' care about, but sending him a CD would work too, thanks.
04-15-2009, 10:19 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote
So, is it me, my lack of filter use, my lack of photo editing software?...or all three?
Without seeing the pictures, it's hard to say, but for the most part, nothing you described would be fixed by a filter. Getting the white balance correct - that's how you fix color problems. Using a hood - that's how you fix flare problems. In low light at high ISO, color *is* washed out, but you can always increase saturation in camera or PP - or get more light / faster lens and shoot at lower ISO.

QuoteQuote:
Should I spend my (limited) funds on photo editing/enhancing software instead?
If you don't have anything, then sure, you'll need something, so you might as well.

QuoteQuote:
(or is there a good, free software that can get the job done?)
Picasa, Irfanview, and Fastone are popular and do a decent job if you don't need anything fancy.
04-15-2009, 11:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
Without seeing the pictures, it's hard to say,
that's part of the reason I'm looking for PP software. all of my picture files are too large to put in this gallery....I'll try to have some examples in here over the next few days. Thanks for your suggestions.
04-15-2009, 04:21 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote
that's part of the reason I'm looking for PP software. all of my picture files are too large to put in this gallery....I'll try to have some examples in here over the next few days. Thanks for your suggestions.
Doesn't the forum software automatically resize them? If not, then upload them to another free service that does, like flickr or photobucket or picasaweb or even facebook, and then include the link to the image here, enclosed in "img" and "/img" tags

04-15-2009, 06:49 PM   #9
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To get an idea of the whole "white balance" thing, try this:
  • Take a picture in RAW mode, with the camera on Auto White Balance. Try to get one indoors with a typical lamp, as this is the kind of lighting AWB has a little trouble with and will probably appear a bit yellow.
  • Open the PEF or DNG in Pentax Photo Lab.
  • View->Custom Processing, which should open a ridiculous number of panels. Make sure White Balance is one of them (on the View menu).
  • On the White Balance panel, choose Override, and try the settings in the dropdown. These are the same as the presets on the camera menu. Watch how the image tint changes.
  • Choose Gray point setting, then click an area of the image that's as close to white or gray as you can find.
  • Try the Set color temperature slider.
Some photographers carry around something white or gray, which they place in the scene and set the camera's manual white balance with. (It's similar to the Gray point setting above.) Then they proceed to take all their pictures under that lighting. It works well if you have the time to do it and won't be rapidly changing lighting (such as moving between indoors and outdoors).
04-15-2009, 08:49 PM   #10
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Well, I'll start off with what I feel is the best picture I ever took.



and 3 more from that same day...







here is one of my yellow-ish shots, the blanket she is laying on is actually yellow, I'm not sure if that makes much of a difference, but the walls behind her are pure white.



and I hand the camera to my wife and she takes this one of our other cat using the same settings.



I'll look for some other examples that might help

Auto-

Last edited by Automan21k; 04-15-2009 at 09:01 PM.
04-15-2009, 09:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote
Well, I'll start off with what I feel is the best picture I ever took.
It's a nice one, too! As are the next few, although the third one suffers a bit from having been taken at ISO 1600 when that wasn't necessary. Had you used a lower ISO, the image would be less grainy.

QuoteQuote:
Here is one of my yellow-ish shots
Definitely simply a matter of you needing to set the correct white balance. Pentax, like most DSLR's, tends to produce pictures that most people perceive as too yellow when shot under incandescent light, because the camera doesn't automatically try to remove *all* the yellow color from the light.

QuoteQuote:
I hand the camera to my wife and she takes this one of our other cat using the same settings.
Looks like this one was in different light - some window light, perhaps, not just the incandescent bulb

Also, there is definitely some camera shake robbing the cats shots of sharpness. To be expected when shooting in low light unless you have a lens with a large maximum aperture (f/2.8 or better). SR is helpful, but doesn't work miracles when you have shutter speeds of half a second as you did.

None of these are issues that filters are designed to help with.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 04-17-2009 at 10:57 AM.
04-16-2009, 05:03 AM   #12
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QuoteQuote:
the third one suffers a but from having been taken at ISO 1600 when that wasn't necessary
I didn't even notice that...but now that you mention it I am seeing that with several other pictures I've taken. Thanks.

QuoteQuote:
Definitely simply a matter of you needing to set the correct white balance. Pentax, like most DSLR's, tends to produce pictures that most people perceive as too yellow when shot under incandescent light, because the camera doesn't automatically try to remove *all* the yellow color from the light.
would using a flash reduce this yellowing by balancing the available light?

QuoteQuote:
Looks like this one was in different light - some window light, perhaps, not just the incandescent bulb
Yes, this is beside a set of french doors to our patio, I didn't think there was much light that day, but it must have just been enough.

QuoteQuote:
Also, there is definitely some camera shake robbing the cats shots of sharpness. To be expected when shooting in low light unless you have a lens with a large maximum aperture (f/2.8 or better). SR is helpful, but doesn't work miracles when you have shutter speeds of half a second as you did.
We did buy a tripod and a monopod for basic shooting around the house and I have been debating getting a new lens...possibly a pancake.

QuoteQuote:
None of these are issues that filters are designed to help with.
that's good to know, now I can spend my money on better accessories.
04-16-2009, 01:21 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote
would using a flash reduce this yellowing by balancing the available light?
Yes, but of course you're then taking a totally different picture - you'll also be able to use faster shutter speed and lower ISO, too. So in those respects, you'll get "better" results, but you'll lose the original light and shadow and the color of the light completely. I prefer to shoot in RAW and then correct the WB only about hlf way, so the picture is still noticeably "warm" enough that we can tell it was taken under incandescent lighting, but not as unnaturally yellow as an uncorrected picture taken under auto WB looks.

I say it *looks* unnatural, BTW, but actually, it isn't. Incandescent light really *is* that strongly colored. Our eyes are just amazingly good at fooling us into seeing a white wall as being white even when bathed in yellow/orange light.
04-16-2009, 08:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Automan21k Quote

here is one of my yellow-ish shots, the blanket she is laying on is actually yellow, I'm not sure if that makes much of a difference, but the walls behind her are pure white.



and I hand the camera to my wife and she takes this one of our other cat using the same settings.



I'll look for some other examples that might help

Auto-
Just shoot RAW and eyedropper that white wall and all will be well. Second one seems to have some mixed lighting in it, or is that a TV coloring it.. This would be a tad more difficult to white balance.
04-16-2009, 10:59 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeffkrol Quote
Just shoot RAW and eyedropper that white wall and all will be well. Second one seems to have some mixed lighting in it, or is that a TV coloring it.. This would be a tad more difficult to white balance.
What was your white balance settings when you took the photo of the black cat? (Lovely cats btw. I had a grey one also . He died last year of old age. He is my avitar). It looks like you shot it in sunlight mode. The pic of the grey cat looks like it was taking by a window which is why it would look more natural. If the first pic was shoot under tungsten lighting and the WB was set at sunlight, it would produce a yellow picture.

Last edited by res3567; 04-16-2009 at 11:07 PM.
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