Photo Tip Tuesday

Photo Tip Tuesday – Lens Filters

There are times during a landscape photography or street photography shoot where you may not be able to get the right amount of motion blur or the sky may be too blown out. When this occurs, it may be time to invest in a set of filters for your camera lens. Although many people think of Instagram when they hear the word ‘filter’, the filters mentioned below can add a new dynamic to an image before post-processing.

Improve Your Sky with a Polarizer
Polarizers are one of used filters many professionals keep in their bag. These filters work by helping the camera filter out light that is reflected directly towards the camera at certain angles. At times, when you want to photograph a landscape with a blue sky, the haze can make the sky less vibrant. This problem can be solved by using a polarizer filter to minimize the haze and reveal the actual blue of the sky. In order to achieve this look, it helps to aim your camera at a 90-degree angle from the sun or with the sun to your side.

Reveal The Element Underneath the Water with a Polarizer
One problem many photographers encounter when photographing water, such as a stream or a lake, is that the light reflects off the water surface that makes it hard to see what is below the water’s surface. In most cases, you would want to make your image more interesting by incorporating some elements underneath the surface like fish, rocks or even logs from fallen trees. To achieve this, you can use a polarizer to eliminate the reflecting light and reveal what’s beneath the surface. You don’t have to completely eliminate the reflecting light in order to see what is underneath; you can still retain some reflecting light by rotating the filter a bit. This will help you see what’s underneath the surface, retain some reflecting light and make your image more colorful.

Darken the Sky with a Graduated Neutral Density Filters
A graduated neutral density filter is another important filter you can use to enhance your photos. You can use this filter to correct a high amount of contrast in your landscape photo, especially when you are photographing at sunrise or sunset. This high amount of contrast is usually present between the sky and the foreground and forces you to choose what should be exposed properly. With graduated neutral density filters, you can decrease the dynamic range of an image by darkening the brighter sides such as the sky. The aim of doing this is to make it fall in the range of what your camera can capture. If you are using a hard-edged ND graduated filter, it helps utilize the “Live View” feature on your camera to see the positioning of the filter over the lens. Pay attention to the way the foreground exposure changes in relation to the sky so that you won’t overdo it. Use a less dense filter such as 2-stop ND filter if the sky is getting too dark in relation to the foreground.

Control the Motion of the Water with Neutral Density Filter
When you are photographing moving water, it is possible to create different moods by adjusting the way you capture water. You can get more a calm, peaceful mood with longer exposures or the power of a river going over the falls with shorter exposures. By using neutral density filters on the shutter, you can evoke both moods by limiting the amount of light entering the camera lens. This can be achieved by adjusting the speed of the shutter to get the effect of motion you need. For example, you can use 3-stop ND filter to slow down waterfalls to get a peaceful look or use a 4 or 5-stop ND filter to get the right exposure you need to slow the motion down so you can capture waves crashing in the ocean. You can even eliminate waves completely and slow down your shutter speed to a minute or more by using a 10-stop neutral density filter.

Create Motion in Clouds with Neutral Density Filters
Clouds are very important in landscape photography. They add depth and drama to a landscape while making your photo more interesting and dynamic. With neutral density filters, you can make your photos look more creative by capturing the movement of clouds and blurring them to create a sense of flight and speed in your scene. Note that the longer the exposure, the more movement you will be able to capture.

So, the next time you want to add a different dynamic to your images using motion, play around with different filters to truly make your camera your canvas.

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