Filters – What do they mean to you?

There is a huge difference in peoples understanding of filters and by this I mean filters on Instagram vs filters used by photographers on their camera. Quite often I will see comments on Instagram – #nofilter; but what does that mean? 

Filters for Instagram are used after the photo is taken, they are pre-customed and there are so many choices, all with different names and all of them changing or enhancing the photo you have already taken. They are easy and quick to apply and they enable you to get the effect you are after, such as blurring, old film, retro etc.  These Instagram filers are in addition to the ability to edit your photos in terms of brightness, shadows, contrast, saturation of colours etc, all within the app itself.

Should you use filters on Instagram? 

It’s a question of choice.  For amateur photographers, filters can be fun if they are used in the right sense and not ‘overdone’.  My advice would be to be consistent and do not ‘over filter’ your photographs. If you are trying to create the same look on all your photos, then give it a go. They can help with the style and consistent branding you are after.

Do I use filters on Instagram?

No, never.  They aren’t appropriate for my work and would be a false representation of the photos I take.  For my personal use, yes sometimes.

What do filters mean to me?  The technical bit.

To photographers, filters are a camera accessory that can be attached to the front of your lens and can modify the image captured. Sometimes the change to the image is very subtle, like using a polarising filter. Other times images are not possible to do without a filter. Some filters are used just to protect your lens and are therefore a UV protector filter to make sure your lens does not get damaged or scratched. They are cheaper to replace than a lens!

Here’s a little explanation to the filters I use and why.

What is in my camera kit?

Protective UV – As well as protecting your lens from scratches, it can also protect it from water, dust or dirt.  They are also used to prevent the UV light from causing haze or fog.

Polarising Filter – If you think of polarising sunglasses, it works in the same way.  It adds depth to an image, giving it more vibrance and reducing reflections. I use it mainly with my landscape photos as it makes the sky darker and the colours appear to ‘pop’ more.

Neutral Density Filters – These vary in darkness and are used depending on the effect you want. They reduce the amount of light that enters your lens and therefore enables you to have the shutter open for longer, without effecting the colour of the image. It allows you to shoot with the slower shutter speed whilst maintaining the desired exposure. I use this filter to enable me to have motion blur of water whilst the subject matter remains in focus.

Corale Glow

Graduated Filter – Graduated neutral density filters (also known as ND Grad or GND filters) reduce the amount of light entering the lens through the top half of the filter. It is to enable you to have a transition between the dark foreground and the bright sunlight. It helps to balance the exposure between the two. These can vary in darkness and I tend to use them for my sunrise and sunset photography… just the top half of the filter is dark, you can get a hard edge for the line or a it is graduated.

Day End

In Conclusion…

There are many ways people use filters and the definition for filters used on Instagram and those used by photographers are totally different.

I don’t use filters on Instagram as this would make my photos ‘fake’ and I am totally against this. The photos I take are what I see. Do I edit my photos after? Yes, I do but only to enhance them and make them reflect more of what I actually saw. Perhaps my next blog….do I use ‘presets’ when editing…. and what are they?

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