Ann Landers once wrote: “Rose colored glasses are never made in bifocals. Nobody wants to read the small print in dreams.” In photography, there are many opportunities to filter the light passing through the lens to the sensor. Maybe it creates a dream like photo, but it certainly does not result in small print. If anything, it adds great drama and enhancements. I try to incorporate filters into my workflow whenever I can. In addition to a circular polarizer (I am partial to Singh-Ray’s LB polarizer, I have branched out to some specialized filters. At my first workshop with Tom Bol (one of the absolute best photo teachers around), I was introduced to the Singh-Ray Vari ND filter. I use this filter often and love it. It is a wonderful tool to gain longer exposures to both slow down water flow and achieve water blur, to smooth out water surfaces, and to extend the length of an exposure to gain light points. It is amazingly easy to use although a bit pricey. At times, you can find a used one on ebay. I love the results especially when water is moving quickly.
I first used a Singh-Ray Gold-n-Blue polarizer with instruction from Jim Patterson. At an early 4:45 a.m. morning shoot with Jim in Sausalito, he patiently worked with me to explain how the filter works and how to use it. This is a crazy filter that can add and enhance tones of blue or gold hues in and to a scene. Simply by rotating the filter, you can find the point of blues or golds that you desire. I sometimes go a bit over the top when I use this filter, perhaps because I am somewhat color blind, or perhaps because I tend to lean toward saturated shots. With this filter, I have found it important to select a white balance rather than let the camera select the white balance in auto WB mode. In auto WB mode, the camera tends to correct the color adjustments that the filter makes by compensating the WB.
Recently, I began using an FLW magenta filter in my dusk shoots with great success after hearing about use of this filter from Bryan Peterson on a YouTube video. As with the Gold-N-Blue, my interest in this filter may be related to the lush full colors it achieves at dusk. Figure out the sunset time, wait fifteen to twenty minutes more, meter the sky, start shooting, and keep shooting until the sky turns dark navy. Pretty simple.
Except for my 4×6 ND Grad Filters, which I either hand-hold over the lens or seat them in a Lee filter holder, all of my filters are 77mm. One of the challenges if you move to filtered shooting is the cost. If you can limit your filters to one size, rather than multiple size sets, it will help manage the cost. To achieve this, I tend to have lenses that take 77mm filters, or I use step up rings. For storage, it seems like I have tried everything (I am a bit of a bag and storage junkie, I am afraid); I have settled into the Tamrac Folding Filter Wallet; it holds eight of my 77mm filters and tri-folds up nicely.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mark