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Beginner's Guide To Filters

Here's a quick guide to filters for those who aren't too sure about them.

|  Digital Cameras
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If you're new to the world of photography, it can be difficult to grasp why lens filters are so useful so we've put a quick guide together that explains why you should consider using filters with your lens.

Polarising Filters

Polarising filters work by blocking rays which in the process suppresses reflections from the surface of non-metallic objects, and reduce glare. The amount of suppression depends on the angle of the reflected light, the rotation of the filter and the amount of polarisation. They also tend to increase colour saturation, so are very useful when you're photographing a landscape with a drab blue sky. They are also great for taking photos of water, as the filter gets rid of the reflections enabling you to see under the surface easily.

The sky is a deeper blue and the detail in the building stands out more thanks to a polarising filter


UV & IR Filters

This specialist filter blocks unwanted infrared and ultraviolet rays from reaching the sensor to give images more clarity. Just UV lenses are available which are useful for blocking UV rays and they also protect your lens from unwanted scratches and marks. 

ND Graduated

ND, or natural density, graduated filters will help you balance the exposure of your shot in situations where foregrounds are too dark or skies are burned out. This filter is tinted grey at one end and gets gradually lighter, leaving the opposite end clear. By placing the grey part over your sky you'll reduce the brightness difference between that and the foreground to give you a more even exposure. These filters come in various strengths and the overall effect will change depending on what strength filter you use. 


ND Filters

This grey filter will adjust the brightness of your shot but leave the colours alone. They're useful when you want to shoot with larger apertures on bright days as you want have to switch to smaller apertures which would result in more of your background appearing in focus. Pocket one for waterfall photography in summer, too, as you'll need one to reach the slower shutter speeds needed to smooth the movement of the water.


Taken with the COKIN-ND8-154 Filter. 


Warm-up Filter

These filters can give cooler sunrises a warm tint as they change the colour temperature of a shot,  however changing the white balance setting on your digital camera can also do this as too can Photoshop.


Tobacco Filters

These add an orange tint to half of your image and in the right shot, can add serious punch to a sky but do be careful as they don't work with everything. 

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26 Apr 2016 7:18AM
Also want to point out the Reverse ND Grad filters which are useful to tame sunrise or sunset highlights with flat horizons.

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