Lens Filters Explained

Wide-angle lens polarization

Camera lens filters can serve different purposes in digital photography. They can be indispensable for capturing scenery in extremely difficult lighting conditions, they can enhance colors and reduce reflections or can simply protect lenses. Filters are widely used in photography and cinematography and while some only use filters in rare situations, others rely on filters for their everyday work. For example, landscape photographers heavily rely on various filters, while street and portrait photographers rarely get to use them. Since digital photography is all about the quality and intensity of light, lens filters are often necessary to modify the light before it enters the lens. Many photographers think that some of the built-in tools in Lightroom and Photoshop can simulate filter behavior, making filters redundant in the digital age. As I will demonstrate below, some filters in fact can never be simulated in software and some actually help in getting even better results during post-processing. In this article, I will talk about the different types of lens filters available, what they do, when and how to use them.

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Mount Rainier and Olympic Photos

Mt Rainier NP #3

The drive from Montana to Washington was beautiful. I really wanted to stop in many different locations and take more pictures, but I had a set and compressed schedule that I did not want to change. It was rainy and wet at Mount Rainier, which is quite normal at this time of the year. The snow was everywhere though and it turned out that I was there too early. Should have done my homework. I wanted to take pictures of wildflowers, but because of the high snow accumulation this year, there were very few areas in the park where you could find them. Apparently, the best time to be there is late August to early September. Oh well! I still managed to take some good waterfall pictures though:

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Yellowstone and Glacier Trip Photos

Yellowstone NP #1

Here are some photos that I decided to share with you from Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP from my trip across the Western USA. I have not done much processing on these yet, which I am hoping to do during the next few weeks. The images from Yellowstone NP are from the Nikon D5100 that I was testing – all images from my Nikon D3s were on the card that I unfortunately lost somewhere in Yosemite NP. All landscape images of Yellowstone are lost, so I only have some wildlife + wildflower shots to show.

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How to Take Black and White Pictures

Tree in Color

If you are inspired by the works of Ansel Adams, James Nachtwey or other masters of black and white photography, you probably want to try doing some B&W yourself. If you don’t know how to take black and white pictures and where to start, then this guide might help you to get into the world of B&W photography. I must admit that I am no guru when it comes to black and white photography, but I have been experimenting with it lately and would like to share what I have learned so far.

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Transformation v2

Seasons

Are there places you go to several times a year? If you are thinking about the next photography project, I suggest finding something interesting/unique and then coming back to the same spot at different times of the year to photograph the location. Two of the three images below were shot by accident at the Rocky Mountain National Park – I just liked the way the four trees leaned to the left and were all very unique and beautiful in their own way. I photographed the image in the middle first, then when I was at the same location in fall, I happened to photograph those four trees again. I was reviewing my images in Lightroom one day and noticed that I have two different images of the same trees – not sure how I even remembered them. Next time I visited the park in winter, I went to the same spot and took another picture (left) to add to the collection. Now I need another image in the spring and I will have a complete set :) Note that all three images were taken at different angles, which is why the backgrounds appear so different.

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Best of 2010 – Landscapes (Part 2, BW)

Dead Horse Point BW

This is the second part of the “Best of 2010″ collection for landscape photography. I have not done much of black and white photography, so the below images are sort of “experimental”. Let me know what you think of these! If you like the way they came out, I will post a quick tutorial showing how I did it.

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Best of 2010 – Landscapes (Part 1)

Aspens with Abandoned House

To be honest, I have not had the time to go through all of the pictures that I have taken in 2010, so I’m only posting some of the ones that I rated as my “picks” in Lightroom. I surely did photograph a lot more in 2010 than I did in 2009, but I am also getting more and more picky about my work. I believe that a stricter self-critique can only improve a photographer and while it sometimes can be discouraging to look at other people’s works and compare them to yours, I still think it is a good idea to do it every once in a while. Not only will it be a source of inspiration for you, but it will also make you want to get better. I often spend time looking at works of some of the masters of nature photography and their images not only motivate me to go out and try new things, but also remind me that I have a lot to learn!

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