If you consider yourself pretty handy with a digital camera, you probably find yourself taking plenty of photographs you’d be happy to put up on show for everyone to see.
Landscapes, your family holidays, local landmarks, photos of the kids – they’d all make stunning canvas prints, gracing the walls of your home or office, or even make fantastic gifts for friends and family.
But digital cameras can be pretty complex pieces of equipment, and it can take lots of practice and research to find out how to make the most of your technical kit.
One basic but often overlooked item on a photographer’s kit list is a filter. Nearly everyone who uses their camera for more than just casual snaps will use filters at some time or another, because not only are they extremely useful, but they can do things you’d otherwise have to digitally manipulate your photos to achieve.
If you’re thinking of using filters on your camera, here’s a very brief overview of the essentials.
UV filters – designed to filter out the sun’s UV light, which our eyes can’t see, a UV filter is not normally needed for digital cameras, which are less sensitive to UV light. However, most photographers still use one, but only to protect the camera lens from damage. It won’t actually make a difference to your photographs – we only mention it here because you may wonder what it does!
Polarizing filters – these filters reduce any glare in your field of vision, just like polarised sunglasses do. The filter enables you to take better photos of things such as water or glass and also increases the saturation of colour, darkens blue skies and creates a greater contrast between clouds and sky. They are therefore extremely useful, particularly if you are taking photographs out of doors, and should be in every keen photographer’s kitbag.
Neutral density (ND) filters – the purpose of an ND filter is to decrease the speed the shutter works at, so lessening the amount of light entering the lens. It is essentially a darkened sheet of glass which does not affect the capture of colours (hence the ‘neutral’ bit in the name). You can use ND filters to achieve various effects, such as blurring movement (for example, in a fast-flowing river or waterfall). It could also help you take a photo of a scene which is being crossed by people you don’t want to photograph – by using a long exposure, the people will be deleted from the scene.
Graduated ND filters – similar to ND filters, but where the effect only applies to one part of the filter. These are great for taking landscape photographs or sunrises and sunsets to achieve a more even exposure throughout the picture. Basically, they allow you to create stunning balanced photos even when the sky is brighter than the land.
Of course, other filters are available, including ones which will make your photos look colder or warmer – how and if you use them is up to you. Why not experiment and see what beautiful photographs you can create?