In most aspects of our lives, we don’t want to be filtered. From speech to showing natural beauty, there is almost an anti-filter war to combine with all of the other “anti”- whatever wars; however this war should not be applied to photography. Filters are one of the most important tools in taking great photos once you make the decision to upgrade from your phone camera. Filters are responsible for making colors crisper and clearer, images more realistic and can even add some amazing effects. Now, I am not suggesting that everyone with a halfway decent camera should run out and buy a heliopan filter, but there are a few filters that even amateurs should seriously consider, and with many reasonably priced options, it would be silly not.
First of all, most sources agree that the most important filter to use is a polarizer, especially in landscape photography. The polarizer can make an image more vivid (read: breathtaking) as well as reduce unintended reflections. Adding vividness to faces and people will provide instant enhancement, minimal editing required. Density filters are another must have. Density filters make dreamy, fantasy-like photos possible; think glamour shots, but classy. Ok, so maybe the dreamy effects are best used for nature shots than your head shots, but adding a density filter will seriously transform a photo of your favorite natural setting.
Another great way to enhance photographs is through the use of color filters. While not necessary, there are million ways to use color to enhance even black and white images. For a dramatic effect, apply a red filter to black and white photos to notice an immediate change in the ambience. The blue sky becomes almost black, the whites and greys pop. This is how eerie or statement photos are made. For a more subtle approach, an orange filter adds just the right touch in all the right places. Faces look near perfect (hello, new profile pic!) with a beautiful contrast in landscapes. For an even more subtle, perfecting touch, the use of yellow filters is ideal. This is the most subtle option and is simply used in cases where just a bit of enhancement is needed.
Whether you’re an amateur just looking for better-than-a-smart-phone photos to hang up in your personal space or an aspiring photographer, adding in a few simple filters is a great choice. A must, if you want to know the truth. In a nutshell, a couple of decent filters can take your images from just okay to phenomenal with minimal effort or editing. Frankly, editing will not get you the same results as the use of a filter anyway. What’s the point? You’ve taken the time (and money) to get yourself a nice camera to capture whatever it is you want to memorialize.
Speak freely, dress loudly, ditch the makeup…but, please, filter your lenses!