Thursday, May 19, 2005

Filters in Color Photography

Your film roll can be of either Daylight type or Tungsten type. These are designed to accurately reproduce a scene as seen in a brightly lighted sunny day or at night. But with one of the roll loaded, say daylight type, you may face photographic scenes in both daylight and artificial light. If you take a photo in a tungsten illuminated scene with your daylight type roll, it will appear radish thus making the photo unattractive. Your film roll can not differentiate between these two lighting scenes. This is where you need a filter. Filters are used in colour photography to correct the shift towards a particular hue, say the radish hue of tungsten light or the bluish hue of densely clouded scene. In addition to this there are filters available to add special effect to your photograph. Neutral-density, color-graduated, color-compensating, enhancing, polarizer, soft-focus and specialty filters are used in color photography. You need to experiment and play with various filters to be able to master its use. Filters are generally screwed in front of your lens. So, you need to have an SLR to be able to use filters.

i) Study the scene you wish to photograph. Look for any extreme contrast in light. In a sunset or sunrise, the foreground is darker than the sky.

ii) Use a graduated filter to compensate for these differences in contrast. A graduated filter is half clear glass and half neutral or a color. It allows the foreground to absorb more light and make the contrast between the sky and foreground less extreme.

iii) Use a polarizer to prevent glare from the surface of water or from bright sunlight. A polarizer will deepen the blue of your sky.

iv) Create richer colors or a mood with an enhancing filter. Fall colors such as red, orange and yellow will really snap with color when you use an enhancing filter.

v) Try a blue or cooling filter such as the 80A or a FL-D to counter the greenish hue your photograph may have when shooting under tungsten or fluorescent lights. A good place to try this filter is in basketball gymnasiums, where photos can take on a green tint.

vi) Use a warming filter such as 81B when taking pictures on an overcast day or in open shade. It will add a golden glow such as the late afternoon sun emits to your photograph.

vii) Play with some of the specialty filters such as the soft focus for portraits or a filter to give the lights of a city a "star" effect.

viii) Choose the filter to fit the lens you wish to use or use an adapter ring to fit filters to various lenses.

Useful Tips

You can stack your filters to create different effects.

Colored filters are classed by a number and a letter. The number represents the color and the letter is the density, with A being the least dense. Say 81A will be little less yellow then 81B.

Check the filter factor and adjust the aperture to compensate for the light blocked by the filter. If you are using the camera in auto mode, it will do the compensation automatically.

Must Haves

Filters are not that expensive. You probably use a UV filter or a Skylight 1A filter to protect your lenses from dust etc. Skylight filters also help filter some of the blue cast from a cloudy day. In addition to these, you should have at least a Blue Filter and a Yellow Filter. You can start with 81A which is a yellow filter and 82A which is a blue filter. If you are to take photographs in a situation lighted by florescent tubes, consider adding a FLD filter to counter the greenish cast.

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