Monday, June 25, 2012

The Popular Polarizing Filter

Last week we briefly discussed the types of filters used for digital camera lenses. The most commonly used filter is the polarizing filter and it's extremely important for landscape photographers. In simplest terms, they reduce the amount of reflected light passing through the sensor, while also increasing color saturation. Ever wonder why your pictures of blue skies aren't nearly as rich and beautiful? It's because you're not taking advantage of this nifty piece of equipment.

The intensity of the effect can be changed by rotating the filter –no more than 180 degrees is needed. The effect can also be changed depending on the direction the camera is pointed. It will be strongest when the camera is pointed in the direction perpendicular to the direction of the sun's incoming light. A polarizer used in conjunction with wide-angle lenses can create an unrealistic sky that visibly darkens, so use caution.

There are both linear and circularpolarizing filters. What's the difference? A circular can be used when the camera's metering and autofocus are being used. A linear cannot and because most photographers will want to use metering and autofocus, it's recommended to use a circular polarizing filter.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Overview of Lens Filters

A few weeks ago we spent a lot of time delving into the world of digital camera lenses. Lens filters are just one of several accessories for lenses that can improve upon your photographs. Lens filters attach directly to the lens, coming in two varieties: screw-on and front filters. Some front filters can fit on just about any lens diameter, making them a bit more flexible, but this is not always the case. Filter holder kits can make attaching the filter easier. Like the name implies, screw-on filters directly attach and provide an air-tight seal. The only disadvantage is that each filter will only work with a specific lens size.

The most commonly used filters are polarizing, UV/haze, neutral density, graduated neutral density, and warming/cooling filters (also known as color filters). While you can be creative and use them as you wish, they all have primary uses.
  • Linear and circular polarizers are used to reduce glare and improve saturation. They are very important for landscape photography, giving a richer color to sky and land.
  • Neutral density filters are used to extend exposure time by reducing the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor. They are typically used to smooth water movement, achieve shallow depth of field in bright light, and making moving objects less apparent.
  • Graduated neutral density filters are a bit different. They limit the amount of light across an image in a smooth geometric pattern. They are often used in landscape where there is a linear blend from dark to light.
  • UV filters are used to protect the camera lens, rather than create an effect. But they do reduce haze and improve contrast by minimizing UV light.
  • Cool and warm filters change the white balance. They can be used to correct unrealistic color cast or add one. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Composition Techniques for Better Photographs

Photo by  Reportergimmi

Last week we started with the basics of composing a photograph. But there is more to it then just framing your subject. You're not trying to just take a picture. You're attempting to tell a story. Here are some great tips to get you started on the right path.

Think about colors and tones. If you remember from a few months back, photography lighting equipment is crucial and can really impact a photograph. Light produces both color contrast and tonal contrast. Color is the hue you see, like blue, red, green, etc. Tone refers to brightness –how light or dark the color is. We often associate colors and tones with specific moods and emotions. Red typically evokes passion, while an orange sunrise shows intensity and heat. Darker tones obviously bring about “darker” emotions and light tones are more uplifting.

Color and tone go hand in hand with lines. By lines I mean any boundary created by two contrasting colors. Our brain automatically follows lines without us really knowing. Use lines to guide the audience's eyes. But be sure not to mistakenly place lines that could distract the focus of the image.  

Check back next week when discuss filters for digital camera lenses

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tips for Composing a Shot

Even with all the best equipment and digital camera lenses in the world, anyone can still take a terrible photograph. While there are no “rules” per say for taking a photograph, there are basic guidelines that can help beginners improve their technique. It's all about composing the photo, so let's go over some basics:
  • Hopefully you already know about the rule of thirds. For whatever reason we've all grown up with the idea to center the subject, which usually makes for the most boring photographs. Instead, put the focus somewhere else in the frame and don't discount other elements in the shot. By viewing the picture as a 3x3 grid, you can avoid placing the focal image in the center.
  • Think about viewpoint and angles. Before you set the shot, think about your audience and how they will view the photo. Taking the picture at eye-level as opposed to the bottom right will give a completely different perspective. What do you want to show?
  • Backgrounds are equally as important as the focal point on the picture. A terrible background can distract the viewer and ruin the shot. If you can move around it or move your subject, go for it. Of course you can edit later on the computer, but aim for a perfect shot each time.
  • Finally, think about depth. Depth will make your photo look more realistic. Try to take a picture where there are objects and/or elements at different distances.