Filter basics.

Use a polarizer to improve contrast and color saturation.

Over the course of this video series, I’ve mentioned a few filters from time to time and promised to discuss them in more detail in a later video. Well, here it is! In the video, I talk about the three filters I regularly use (and they’re the only filters I use):

1) I use a polarizer to reduce glare on reflective surfaces like water, wet surfaces, and way leaves. These surfaces are usually reflecting white or blue light from the sky. There reflections can be distracting and they reduce the amount of color that shows through, whether it is the earth tones of a stream bed or the brilliant color of fall foliage. Using a polarizer will let these colors come out, so that your photos have more saturated colors and better contrast.

2) A neutral density filter darkens the whole scene without adding a color cast to your photos. As I mentioned in last week’s video, these are needed to slow down your shutter speed when there is too much light to get a slow enough shutter speed to blur motion in a photo. You can get ND filters in various strengths, but I prefer to use a variable neutral density filter which lets you dial in a darkening amount, from 2 stops to 8.

3) A graduated split neutral density filter is often needed during golden hour light when the low angle of the sun causes your foreground to be in shadow, while your background and the sky are in direct light. In these situations, your camera’s sensor can’t always capture adequate detail in both your highlights and your shadows. By using a graduated split neutral density filter, you can balance your exposure by darkening your highlights without effecting exposure in your shadows. In the video, I talk about the different styles of this filter and the techniques you need to use it effectively. Of the three filters I use, this is the only one that can be simulated well in post processing. I previously explained how to do this in Photoshop here:

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