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Photography Question 
Aleem M. Shah

Filter for outdoor portraits

Can anyone advise me regarding the type of filter(s) that should be used for portrait photography in bright-sunlight?
I have a Nikon N60 AF-SLR with Sigma lens.

Any comments would be appreciated.

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4/6/2005 1:56:29 AM

Michael H. Cothran   Filters serve a specific and defined purpose. They are NOT necessary unless YOU can define a specific need for one. In your situation, no filters are necessary, although you can always add "creative" filters for special effects, but I'm not sure that's what you are after. And personally, I would not put anything in front of my lens unless absolutely necessary.
Filters seem to have a magical, mythical aura about them, especially for new photographers. Don't get caught up in it, thinking that you cannot take a good picture without some super duper filter sitting in front of your lens.
That said, here are some examples of filters you could use for portraiture in bright sunlight:
If you wanted a soft, mushy effect, you could add a soft focus filter. If there was a lot of glare, you could use a polarizing filter. If there was danger of damaging your lens, you could add a UV or Haze filter to protect the front element. If the color temperature was quite cool, you could add a warming filter. Etc, etc.
In essence, there are a gazillion filters for specific circumstances. Unless it fits YOUR circumstances, don't bother.
FYI - Most photographers, myself included, start out buying and experimenting with every filter and doodad we can get our hands on. I guess it's part of the Rights of Passage. As we mature photographically, those contraptions end up in a drawer. I only carry one filter with me all the time - a polarizer. The other gazillion live in said drawer, and rarely if ever get used.
Michael H. Cothran

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4/6/2005 5:30:43 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I agree with much of what Michael mentioned, though you didn't mention what kind of film you plan on using, slide film, color negative or black and white. Some films are designed to produce a warmer appearance than others, especially in the range of skin tones and those are helpful when working in mid-day sunlight. So, in a sense, it's like the film has built-in filtration. Ektachrome 100VS, Porta, Fuji Velvia, etc.

OTOH, there are times when you have a scene that's too cool and you want to warm it up a bit. For that, I suggest a couple of warming filters like an 81A or 81B. Depending on the film, I may go to an 81EF to really warm things up, like a sunset. It really depends on what you're trying to accomplish on which film stock. A circular polarizer is a real necessity. They can be used singly or in combination with another filter like an 81 series.

With black and white, again, you need to know what effect you're looking for. Filters for b&w modify contrast of various objects of one color or another.

As Michael suggested, before you race out and buy a bunch of filters for every conceivable use, read up on them, think about them in terms of the film you intend to shoot (more than one film is fine of course) and the effect you want.
Take it light.

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4/6/2005 5:12:33 PM

Aleem M. Shah   Thanks a ton, Michael and Mark! Words fail me to thank you for your eye-opening advice.

I guess I will carry a polarizer with me, however, as Michael advised, I will not use it unless I really have to.

Incidentally, the film that I am thinking of using is Fuji Reala (for portrait shoot on a sunny day). This film was suggested in a book by Julian Calder & Jphn Garrett. Hope its not too inappropriate.

Thanks once again!

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4/6/2005 10:13:51 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Yep. Reala is good stuff for outdoor portraits. If you find it a bit too warm, you can ask the lab to back that off a bit in the printing process, even with machine prints. And, you'll probably want to experiment some with your polarizer. Most situations don't call for it, especially portraiture, but it's quite useful in some scenes, especially for knocking reflections down on water or darkening a blue sky.
Have fun're welcome ;>)

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4/7/2005 8:01:34 AM

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