Viewing the World Through Rose Colored...Filters?

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Viewing the World Through Rose Colored...Filters?

Postby deaner1971 » Tue May 15, 2012 11:29 am

OK, I have made a transition from being someone who used to try and amass every filter upon which I could set my hands to being someone who rarely puts anything between my camera and the subject beyond a UV or CP filter.

Sure, I will make exceptions (a variable CP to slow things down enough to get the proper exposure for smooth water being one of the few) but I am generally using them less and less.

A big part of this is the improvements that Adobe has made in replicating so many of the effects I once relied upon filters to create and another factor is the improvements in sensors in what they can capture and across what range.


1. What filters to you generally use (specific to landscape photography, if you wish) say 50% or more of the time?
2. What filters still earn their keep but are definitely special situation filters (1% to 25% of your shots)?
3. If your use of filters has precipitously decreased, why (improved skill, improved camera tech, improved post-prod tech/skill, etc...)?
4. Is there a filter that you wish your fellow high-order amateurs would send to filter purgatory?

Thanks all.

Even Dean

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Re: Viewing the World Through Rose Colored...Filters?

Postby autzig » Tue May 15, 2012 4:52 pm

Dean, about the only one I use with any regularity is a circular polarizing filter. It eliminates glare from water, saturates color and cuts light by two stops. Sometimes I need one or all of those attributes.

I do not use a UV or skylight filter on any of my lenses. I make sure I have the lens cap on and the sun shade properly deployed for protection. The only time I would consider using a UV filter is if the weather was particularly rainy and I want to give the lens some protection against the elements.

I know a lot of people who use graduated neutral density filters when shooting into the sun. I don't use them because if the sun is that intense, it will generate lens flares and such a filter doesn't do anything to fix that.


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Re: Viewing the World Through Rose Colored...Filters?

Postby deaner1971 » Wed May 16, 2012 7:54 am


I have to admit that I usually have a UV filter on for protection but they are of good quality and do not cause me any issues with exposure or sharpness. Probably not necessary though and I need to start shooting without them as I have gotten better about lens cap use.

I agree on the CP. I still use mine especially as I like what it does with glare on foliage (and, as you mentioned, water). I will turn to my variable CP for exposure issues (generally running water in landscapes or cars/walking people in an urban setting).

I have a wide variety of grad filters for all of the sunrise and sunset shooting I always want to do and so rarely actually get to do. I find them to be a mixed bag as that flat "horizon" on the filter so rarely messes well with the reality of a varied horizon in the picture. As I get better with HDR (or at least with working in layers) I expect to become less and less attached to the grads than I even am now.

Thank you so much for your thoughts.


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Re: Viewing the World Through Rose Colored...Filters?

Postby Andy » Wed May 16, 2012 5:29 pm

Hi Dean: Here is how I look at it, right or wrong. I have spent anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars on precision, coated and finely made "glass." Why would I want to put a piece of "cheaper" glass on the front of that? And, no matter how "high quality" the filter is, is is not a high quality as the glass which is specifically formulated for the lens.

Add to that that most modern lenses actually are made up of multiple glass elements (especially the zoom lenses that have become so ubiquitous). When you start doing that you are bound to have refraction issues. Again, why add yet another element - and one that was unlikely intended as part of the lens design?

I don't know that it is the sharpness that a filter robs (though if dirty, or if reflective in a certain way, I am sure it will). And, I doubt that given todays modern meters, exposure will normally be an issue. But it is an additional element.

Like all photographic accessories, filters are tools. Tools are made for a specific job and I will only use a tool if I need it. I don't currently own any skylight, UV, or "specialty" filters -- with 2 exceptions:

1. Like Al, I use a CPL frequently ("circular," BTW, is only a design element that effects Auto Focusing, and sometimes the modern metering systems. If you are a MF kind of guy, you can get along quite nicely with a regular old "Linear" Polarizer). Polarizers filter out the frequency of light rays which is "short" (blue) by allowing only longer rays through the filter. It is these short rays that are omni-directional that tend to cause unwanted reflections of various surfaces. For this reason, polarizers can "cut" the glare on certain reflective surfaces -- most notably , water and foliage (also some metals). It also tends to render skies a darker shade of blue (I have noted lately that with better sensors and glass, there can be a tendancy to over do this "blue sky" polarization, creating deep shades that are unnatural and often having skies unevenly blue across an image).

2. The only other filters I carry are straight Neutral Density Filters. I use these in limited situations, most often when I am trying to knock down a bright scene enough to use a slow shutter speed. The most common example is when I want a very slow exposure of white, moving water. I carry a 2 and 4 stop ND rectangular filter. I handhold them in front of the lens and often will stack the two to get a 6 stop. I have only rarely "loved" the result I get.

Other than these 2 filter combinations, I really believe you can achieve any other "filter" result in PS and do it better and more easily.

3. Like Dean, I never warmed up to the Split ND filters. The are very difficult to use unless you have a very defined, linear edge between high and low contrast. Most of my photos that needed the split ND filter involved mountain ranges, or tree lines or such, and I never got results I liked. Since PS and blending, I have done all my "split ND work" by taking multiple exposures. These days, I mostly use Photomatix (the only third party software I use outside of PS and LR) to do my blending. It works so much better, IMO, than trying to see, adjust, and actually pull off a "filtered" split ND result.

4. My friend, Rich at one time had the "Moose Peterson" Polarizer, which is a polarizer/warming filter. Back in the film days, I almost bought one and could see the benefit. With PS, I don't think it is necessary.

5. I would like to try the variable ND filters. They are intriguing to me, and at least one very accomplished fine are pro and teacher I know uses them. I may get a chance this Fall when I spend a week with him shooting foliage.

6. Other than these special purpose filters, IMO, the "best" filter you can use is very clean glass. It is amazing after a day's shoot, what kind of crud has accumulated on the surface. It is important to carefully, but thoroughly clean the glass often.

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

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