Filters & Other Tools
Since the earliest days of photography filters have played a necessary role in enabling photographers to control the imaging processes. Today, working in colour and in particular utilizing digital image processing techniques, do filters still play a role and if so which ones are necessary and useful?
Unfiltered Lee Enhancing Filter
The image above was taken with a medium-format Rollei 6008i and 300mm f/4 Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar on Kodak 100VS film. The lighting conditions were bright-hazy. The one on the left is without filter and the one on the right was taken through a Lee Color Enhancing Filter. Neither frame has had any correction other than sharpening and levels in PhotoShop. Specifically, there is no colour correction applied just the straight output from my Agfa Duoscan.
As can be seen the filtered frame on the right has considerably punched-up reds and yellows (which is what a colour enhancer is supposed to do) but it also has an unacceptable magenta cast.
The frames below are versions of the frames above. The one on the left is the un-filtered image but with +15 Red and +15 Yellow colour saturation increases in PhotoShop.
Unfiltered - colour boosted Lee Enhancing Filter - magenta corrected
The frame on the right is the one taken through the Lee Enhancing Filter, but with the magenta cast removed (+50 Green).
So what do you think? I realize that the limitations of on-screen display and the smallish image sizes make the comparison difficult. It's even difficult when comparing large screen images and 8 x10" prints.
But, the print on the left which is unfiltered, with colour that was saturated using PhotoShop, is cleaner with more pleasing colours than the enhancement filtered but magenta-corrected one on the right. My take therefore is that the use of a colour enhancing filter is largely redundant if you will be processing your images digitally prior to output. Even if you are using traditional printing means then you will have to correct for a major magenta imbalance that seriously compromises the benefits of the filter to begin with.
I'd been told that the Sing-Ray colour enhancing filter does not suffer from this magenta cast. Fortunately in mid-October '99 on a shoot in the Eastern Sierra with photographer Steve Kossack I had the opportunity of comparing the Lee, Sing-Ray and Tiffen enhancers. Click HERE for that review.
Within the vast family of Cokin special effects filters there is just one that catches my fancy, the #173 Blue / Yellow polarizer. This articles explores how and when to use this special effects filter.
On location software tools can be invaluable. The small size and efficiency of the PalmPilot when combined with these programs provides photographers with some invaluable tools.
Windows for Pocket PCs has finally come of age and has become fully competitive with Palm computers. In 2001 the hottest Pocket PC is the Compaq Ipaq 3600. It has a bright backlit LCD screen that unlike most of its competitors is highly visible in daylight ideal for outdoor photographers.
There are excellent programs available that makes this a must-have tool for photographers.
The use of polarizing filters to darken the sky is generally well understood by outdoor photographers, but using them to minimize reflections on water and foliage is less familiar. This tutorial shows how.