Unlock the Power of Filters in Photography

Photography is an art form that requires the right tools and techniques to create stunning images. One of the most important tools in a photographer's arsenal is the filter. A filter is a device used to selectively modify the component wavelengths of a mixture, such as light. Filters can be made of colored glass, plastic, gelatin, or sometimes a colored liquid in a glass cell.

They are used to minimize glare and reflections, improve colors, reduce light entering the lens, and more. There are several different types of lens filters, each designed to offer a specific effect that can help improve the final look of an image. Some filters help eliminate reflections, while others improve certain colors in an image or limit the amount of light that passes through the lens. Filters can also be used to achieve image-enhancing effects that can change the tone and mood of your photos. The effects of the filters are more pronounced when working in black and white, since the monochromatic tonal scale reacts very differently and also with a more dramatic effect. In monochrome photography, color filters affect the relative brightness of different colors; red lipstick can be rendered as anything from almost white to almost black with different filters.

Others change the color balance of images, so that photographs under incandescent lighting show colors as perceived, rather than showing them with a reddish tint. There are also filters that distort the image in the desired way, diffusing an image that would otherwise be sharp, adding a starry effect, etc. Linear and circular polarizing filters reduce oblique reflections from non-metallic surfaces. When you use a filter you can immediately see the difference with the image in the viewfinder. You can achieve many of the same effects by making extensive adjustments in Photoshop (or another image manipulation software package), but using a filter is much faster and easier.

As with all new photo accessories, practice and experimentation are the keys to expanding the application of your creative palette. If you are taking your first steps in photography and you are not sure how you will use filters in the future, it is best to start with a basic starter filter kit or borrow one from someone else. Along with a camera, lenses and a tripod, lens filters are a fundamental part of a photographer's equipment and are essential in many disciplines, such as landscape photography. In the past, UV filters were also used to prevent UV light from causing haze and fog in older photographic films, which were normally more sensitive to UV rays. Sometimes the filter is stained in the mass, in other cases, it is a thin sheet of material sandwiched between two pieces of clear glass or plastic. If you're sure that photography is your passion and filters are going to be an important part of your workflow, don't hesitate to start directly with square filters and the filter holder system. Wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses are a common example of this type in which a glass dome is projected out of the lens, making it impossible to use normal filters and filter holders. These filters are pieces of darkened glass that reduce the amount of light that can pass through the lens and therefore allow you to use slow shutter speeds in scenarios where you would otherwise have been limited by aperture and ISO.

Testing your new filters in new environments and with new themes can be the push you need to return to a state of creative flow. Close-up filters are among the least common types of camera lens filters but they can be very useful if you use them correctly. This is especially important with wide-angle lenses which can sometimes vignette slightly even with filters that seem to fit. For landscape photography, most of the filters discussed here can be useful, particularly polarizers, ND filters, and graduated ND filters. Blue filters aren't used as often in black and white photography because they illuminate the sky and obscure lights or colors that appear clear. Camera lens filters can generate fascinating results if you want to take your photography one step further. Most filters come with protective plastic boxes and they should be kept in these boxes after use, not left loose in the bottom of your device bag.

Clément Vermeulen
Clément Vermeulen

Freelance pop cultureaholic. Lifelong internet geek. Avid problem solver. Subtly charming bacon scholar. Proud zombie fanatic. Passionate tv fanatic.