It’s not a secret that professional photos look much better than amateur ones. The differences are many times minor, but the effect on the viewer is much stronger. This is due to the larger sensors of professional cameras, but also to high quality lenses and to using filters on professional photos. There are two types of filters, physical ones that get applied on the camera, in front of the lens, and virtual ones that get applied in post-processing software programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. They both contribute to improving the look of the images, while also helping the artist to transmit the right emotions and moods to the audience.
Neutral density and CPL filters are the only ones that can’t be added in post-production. They can be extremely useful in a series of situations, mainly when it comes to landscape photography. CPL filters, for instance, polarize the light, creating the beautiful dark blue skies you may have already noticed in professional landscape photography. This filter is also useful for reducing light reflections on shiny surfaces such as still waters and mirrors. This improves the quality and the sharpness of the image, making the colors brighter and more vivid. In order to obtain the maximum light polarization effect, you have to shoot at a 90 degrees angle from the sun. As it is hard to measure angles while roaming over hills and valleys, you should use the live view function on your camera to detect the position in which the filter has the maximum effect.
Natural Density Filters
Neutral density filters are also impossible to replicate in Photoshop. They allow the photographer to use long exposure times during day time. When shooting a waterfall or a river with ND filters, for instance, the water appears velvety and soft like silk, creating a fairy tale-like atmosphere. You can use these filters for removing people in photos of major tourist attractions. In such places, it might be impossible to find a moment when no other people are around, so ND filters can be real life savers. However, you need to take into consideration that using ND filters calls for a tripod. You can’t shoot handheld, as the exposure time is way too long for you to stay still, so your images are going to be blurry.
Gradual filters are extremely useful for sunset and sunrise landscape images. They can create impressive skies, full of color and life, without affecting the bottom part of the image. Some photographers prefer physical gradual filters and a holder to attach them to their lenses, while others choose to apply them in the image post-processing stage. If you’ve noticed these sunset images in professional photo exhibitions and magazines, you won’t ever ask yourself why use filters on professional photos. Their effect is obvious in the impact these images have on the viewers.
As you can see, various filters have various uses. Professional photographers know very well what to use and when, in order to create the effect they want and make people buy their photos to showcase them in their homes. The main reason for using filters on professional photos is to make the images better and to communicate various emotions and moods. Learning how to choose and how to apply such filters is a must for any professional photographer who wants to be successful. Sometimes, a simple filter can make the difference between a dull photo and a gorgeous one. Such accessories may not be cheap, but they are surely useful. Learning when and where to use them can help you take your art to the next level.