Filters More Commonly Used With Color Photography

Below is the list of popular filters which are used with color photography. We have outlined the most popular ones which will have a dramatic impact on your final product.

Ultraviolet Filters
Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye but it is picked up on camera film. This is another reason why amateur photographers may be disappointed when they get their pictures back. They may claim that the lighting is not correct or state that “this isn’t how it looked when I took the picture”. Although the differences may be subtle they make a world of difference in the realm of photography. In some cases ultraviolet light may be desirable and in other cases it may be unwanted. As a photographer it will be your responsibility to know when ultraviolet light will be a consideration and when it can be ignored.

The effect that ultraviolet light will have in most pictures is miniscule. However, at high altitudes or in distant landscapes it can make the picture appear much paler. Without an ultraviolet filter, your landscape or aerial color photography will not only appear more pale, it will also have a blue’ish tinge cast on it. By using an ultraviolet filter the picture will be without this blueish tinge and will reflect a closer resemblance of the picture that the human eye would see.

Polarizing Filters
Polarizing filters help control reflections for glass or water or any other non metal reflective surface. The polarizing filter works because ordinary light bounces in all directions What the polarizing filter does for some parts of a clear blue sky and non metal surfaces is it blocks it into one plane. If you’ve ever wondered how to take a reflection out of a puddle or window this is how you do it. Likewise, you’ve probably seen photographs of landscape or nature photographs where the blue sky seems so vibrant and blue. This too was probably done with a polarizing lens.

Gray Gradual (Gray Grad)
Gray gradual lenses are lenses which have a darkening gradient built into them. They come in different sizes and gradients but effectively they do the same thing. You can artificially darken and enhance the contrast on the top, bottom, right side or left side of your picture by attaching a gray gradual filter.
Notice how there is a gradient built into this lens. The results of using this lens can be spectacular because you can selectively chose which portion of the photograph you wish to darken or enhance.
Imagine that you are in a beautiful field, but because of the bright sky you’re pictures is looking a little pale in the upper half (the sky). If you put a gray gradual filter on you will be able to tone down the sky, bring out it’s highlights and achieve the proper exposure for both your sky and the ground.

Neutral Density Filters
A Neutral Density filter creates a reduction in light that is neutral and equal for the film or sensor area. This filter is often used to allow for longer exposure times whenever a longer exposure would normally create over exposure in the camera.

A Graduated Neutral Density filter is a neutral density filter that varies the effect with a gradient so it can be used to compress dynamic range across the entire scene. This can be beneficial when the difference between highlights and shadows of a scene are too great to allow for proper exposure for both.

Diffusion Filters
Diffusion filters are also called softening filters and they artificially create a dreamy haze. Often photographers look for this type of light diffusion in the natural environment through light haze or mist. However, because these elements are not always at our disposal some photographers prefer to shoot using diffusion filters. Although the look is different from the diffusion you would see occur naturally in a hazy environment, they still produce a dreamlike effect nonetheless.

They usually achieve this through some type of grid or netting in the filter, or they use a material which is transparent but not optically sharp.