- How To Get Better At Landscape Photography
- Why You Need a Filter Kit for Landscape Photography
- Circular Polarizer Do’s and Don'ts
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There is an interesting phenomenon I see on social media concerning photography, namely the no filter (#nofilter) and straight out of camera (#sooc) hashtags. I call it interesting because it seems to imply that there’s something inherently wrong with processing images or using lens filters.
As a public service announcement, let me assure you there is nothing wrong with liking or posting filtered vs unfiltered or processed vs unprocessed images. I shoot, show, and enjoy them all. A good image is a good image. (By the way, every digital image is processed, even a #SOOC jpeg, and every photographic lens filters light in some fashion, just by the types of glass used and coatings.)
As photographers progressing from beginner photography, you are familiar with the image processing engine in all of our digital cameras, what post-processing can do for your image files, and the basic ideas of using lens filters.
The questions from photographers progressing from beginner to intermediate are more along the lines of “Since I can post-process images, do I really need lens filters?” and also “Exactly what do lens filters do?” and finally “What are the benefits of lens filters?”
If I Post-Process, Do I Really Need Lens Filters?
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As soon as we start shooting in RAW and post-processing, we realize how much real information is in each of our digital images. One of the first things we learn is that there is tons of detail in the shadows of our files, but not much in the highlight end. So we start thinking that we can fix any lighting or contrast challenge in post.
Well, in that lens filter vs no lens filter debate going on our head, we should look again at that RAW file situation in regards to exposure information embedded. While we can often pull out some detail from the shadows and midrange, anything blown out in the highlights is gone, you can’t pull it out.
If you’ve begun to practice and shoot while considering dynamic range or the scene, HDR photography, Zone System, and lighting contrast, you have learned there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. Which is why many landscape photographers use graduated neutral density (GND) lens filters to bring highlight values down so they can be captured along with shadow detail.
A lens filter system with a filter holder, lens adapters, and square, rectangular, and round filters is the best way to take advantage of all the benefits of lens filters such as GND and other specialty lens filters. Haida Filters offers the M10 Enthusiast Kit II filter holder system which includes a 3-stop soft edge GND lens filter for blending and taming many dynamic range situations we come across as landscape or architectural photographers.
What Do Lens Filters Do?
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There are some lens filters that accomplish what post-processing programs simply can’t do or are limited in doing for our images. A circular polarizer (C-POL) is one of those lens filters. A C-POL filter is one of the most useful lens filters for a wide variety of scenes.
Your C-POL lens filters control polarized light which allows you to deepen colors, see through water, eliminate reflections, and increase contrast between white clouds and blue sky. The Haida M10 Enthusiast Filter Kit II comes with a very high quality C-POL filter you can mount to virtually any lens you might own.
Except for some major replacement of image elements, there is little you can do with a post-processing program to change light polarization. And if you try to capture the image without a polarizer filter, it will often pale in comparison to the same view taken with the C-POL, provided it’s used properly.
Benefits of Lens Filters
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In the lens filter vs no lens filter debate going on in our heads, we can see that some of the benefits of lens filters for many types of photography is to either do something we can’t readily do in post-processing or that create a better image file in the first place that we can then tweak or enhance to make it as close to perfect as possible.
One of the benefits of lens filters such as a deep neutral density (ND) filter is that we can greatly adjust the exposure triangle to give us lens apertures or shutter speeds not available without the lens filters.
There is an excellent example of this type of lens filter in the Haida M10 Enthusiast Filter Kit II is the 10-stop ND filter. A full 10 stops of exposure density allows for opening up the lens aperture fully, slowing down the shutter speed greatly, or any combination of the two based on what you need from the exposure triangle.
This could allow you to use motion blur effects or selective focus techniques for landscape, architectural, portrait, or small product photography. These techniques can’t simply be done just because we want them, we have to change something radically to get there which is what ND lens filters are designed to do.
You Can Craft Great Images With Lens Filters
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Sometimes the best use of our photographic talent is seen in an image we can show straight out of our camera without using any lens filters. But there are also many situations when we can create an even better image by using lens filters and post-processing properly.
Our main goal is capturing and crafting the best image to show what our photographic mind can make. Proper use of all of our equipment and learned techniques is how we get that great image.