BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Matt Gerhart
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/6/2005

Help with filters

What filter would you reccomend to help bring out my autumn photos this fall?

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9/17/2008 12:45:09 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  If you were shooting film, I'd say a B+W Redhancer (available from I don't know how it would do with digital, but I have to tell you for autumn foliage it's quite nice. Even a warming filter like an 81B should help. Stay away from polarizers and UV filters. Chances are you don't need a UV filter shooting at lower level altitudes like around sea level. Polarizers may seem to brighten colors but that's illusory. Shoot at earlier or later times of day when the sun is lower on the horizon and use slower ISO's like 100 or even less. My own preference for foliage shots in fall is on transparency film, Kodak Ektachrome warm does a good job too for those who are into film.

In some situations, a blue grad sky filter might be helpful (not a ND but a filter made specifically for darkening a blue sky). Hitech, Cokin, B+W, all make sky blue grades in different gradations and holders to work with them.

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9/17/2008 6:49:11 PM

Samuel Smith
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/21/2004
  hey matt,and yeah mark,
um,mark talked about conditions,time of day and such.all the filters in the wourld can't save you.
always such a cluster?
even with the best knowledge in the world(sp),yes I know,the bottom line is light.humidity,and a possible plus-fog.
the angle of the sun and your position.
the best filter I could recommend would be expierence.
polarizers work at angles,but not saviors.yet give great results.with proper use.
all info is subjective,it's like playing csi photography,and it's right and wrong.

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9/17/2008 9:37:35 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
The first thing I would do is as mark and Samuel suggest: make the best possible photo before worrying about digital enhancement. No matter what you shoot, having the best source is always the best place to start. You don't want to start with ugly models and make them pretty -- nature is the same way.

Once you have a few shots and post them here, we can talk about possible enhancements. There isn't one way digitally to make every shot look great, or Photoshop/Elements would open up and there would be an EASY button.

But lets see those images first!

Richard Lynch

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9/18/2008 12:24:37 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Matt,

About Filters:

Filters as used in photography are available in many forms. They can be disks, squares or rectangles. Some are made using colored optical glass. Some are three layer sandwiches consisting of colored gelatin protected by a front and back sheet of optical glass. Some are colored gelatin squares covered with a protective coat of lacquer. Some modern filters are acrylic; some are metal plated on glass. To name a few designs. They are inside the printing machines at the photo lab; they are inside your camera they add their magic to the light meter mechanism and the auto-focus. They are on the surface of the imaging sensor chip. They are on the LCD view screen and the LCD monitor. They are in countless other places.

Early filters were often hollow glass cells mounted ahead of the lens. The cell was filled with colored liquid. The recipes were trade secrets. The most famous makers, the English firm of Wratten who together with his partner C E K Mees published a catalog of filters. Kodak purchased this firm is 1912 and continues to market Wratten filters. The formulas are also licensed to Tiffen Corp.

Almost all the names and number used today are from the Wratten catalog. Noteworthy is Dr. Edwin Land who invented the polarizing filter in 1937.

Now photographic filters control light in some manor. A light filter stops some colors and passes others. Generally the name of the filter tells what color is passed. A red filter passes red and stops green and blue. A blue filter passes blue and stops red and green. A green filer passes green and stops red and blue. Exceptions are: Inferred filter stops inferred. An ultra violet filter stops UV.

The heyday of colored filter happened when black & white was king. All films (digital chips too) fail to respond to light stimulus as the human eye does. The results can be devastating. Red lipstick, red cheek makeup and eye makeup likely image in unexpected ways. The movie industry is packed with makeup artists that understand how films image. Many made a name for themselves as the mastered the art of theoretical (movie star) makeup.

Color filters to the rescue. Professional photographers maintained a gadget bag of colored filters. They were used everyday to correct the way film rendered colored objects. My hatís off to those old professionals

Todayís digital folks need not trouble themselves much with filters. Likely all that needs to be done can be done in the computer using available image editing software. Exceptions are the polarizing screen. This is the most valuable filter to own. Next is the graduated neutral density filter. Lastly is the UV filter, sold universally to correct bluishness of scenes under overcast conditions and for haze penetration. The UV works at high altitudes only, it does however protect the lens.

Alan Marcus (marginal technical nonsense)

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9/19/2008 4:12:38 PM

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