Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

  1. #1
    Gospelflier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    North Idaho
    Posts
    51
    Real Name
    Krista

    Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    In the past you had to use filters if you wanted to enhance or downplay a color. I was thinking of buying a set of color filters and wondered if it is worth the expense? I know you can digitally enhance colors in a picture as well. Which gives the better result?

  2. #2
    Wayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Saddleworth
    Posts
    482
    Real Name
    Wayland ( aka. Gary Waidson )

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    For film I used to carry a comprehensive range of filters for colour balancing, ND for altering the exposure time, gradual ND for tonal corrections, a polariser for cutting reflections and enhancing sky or surface colour and infrared filters for use with specialist films.

    Of those, the only ones I still use are the polariser, the infrared and the neutral densities because everything else can be done in camera or computer, usually with better results.

    I keep looking at graduated neutral density filters and thinking that they're very expensive and rather awkward to use considering I can get a much more flexible and controllable result in the computer.

    More often than not I can do the same thing with a single exposure just using the DR of the sensor and in extreme situations I can shoot extra frames off faster than I could set up a filter holder.

    I have yet to be convinced that I would still find them useful. (Unfortunately my old ones are too small for my current lenses.)

    the only use I can think of for coloured filters in my digital workflow would be for applying to lights to balance a mixed lighting set up or for creative use with lights or flash.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post

    More often than not I can do the same thing with a single exposure just using the DR of the sensor and in extreme situations I can shoot extra frames off faster than I could set up a filter holder.

    I have yet to be convinced that I would still find them useful. (Unfortunately my old ones are too small for my current lenses.)
    Doing it digitally will always cost you as many stops of DR as a "real" GND would save you (for a single exposure).

    Shooting an HDR composite is one solution, but it doesn't work well with long exposures because of the changing light levels (many of mine are "one chance to get that 20 min exposure right before the light fades for the night".

    Interestingly, when the question is (regularly) put to top landscape shooters, most still prefer to use the read GNDs (I know I do).

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Provence, France
    Posts
    906
    Real Name
    Remco

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    That kind of effects was used in B/W photography usually, the only coloured filters I remember for colour film were there to adjust colour temperature.
    If you use raw, I don't see any particular interest in using colour filters while shooting, you can get the same effects (and more) while editing.
    If you use jpeg, and don't want to do too much editing, colour filters might be useful, but personally I wouldn't spend money on them.

    Which gives the best results? I'd expect post-processing, as you have way more control over the effects, and can apply them in any degree you want.

    EDIT: I didn't get the impression Krista was talking about GND filters and HDR, more about things like a yellow filter to enhance the sky, or a red filter for
    dramatic effect.

  5. #5
    Wayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Saddleworth
    Posts
    482
    Real Name
    Wayland ( aka. Gary Waidson )

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Snip>Interestingly, when the question is (regularly) put to top landscape shooters, most still prefer to use the read GNDs (I know I do).
    That is why I keep looking at the idea but as an investment of a couple of hundred pounds for something that has, so far, not been a problem I can't handle with the tools I already have available, I have my doubts.

    I have started looking again as I am starting to work later into the night it I'm still waivering...

  6. #6
    Wayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Saddleworth
    Posts
    482
    Real Name
    Wayland ( aka. Gary Waidson )

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    EDIT: I didn't get the impression Krista was talking about GND filters and HDR, more about things like a yellow filter to enhance the sky, or a red filter for
    dramatic effect.
    My fault. I didn't mean to derail the thread, I was just pointing out that while I still use some filters, coloured ones have not survived into my digital work.

  7. #7
    dje's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Brisbane Australia
    Posts
    4,148
    Real Name
    Dave Ellis

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Krista I think you'd be wasting your money on colour filters. I don't think anybody uses them much any more. Wait till you get your new computer and LR4 and see what you can do with LR4.

    Dave

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    That is why I keep looking at the idea but as an investment of a couple of hundred pounds for something that has, so far, not been a problem I can't handle with the tools I already have available, I have my doubts.

    I have started looking again as I am starting to work later into the night it I'm still waivering...
    Alternative techniques are something folks talk about a lot, but I think there's a big difference between the theory and the practice -- often "doing it digitally" - if the file is to withstand the rigors of a very large print - turns out to be harder than people think. Here's a good example - this was shot in the remnants of fading light - effectively a 3 minute exposure - with a 3-Stop hard-edge GND. It's a very high dynamic range scene, but the noise levels in the foreground detail are virtually undetectable. Doing it digitally would definitely needed different exposures and I have my doubts that I'd have had enough light to get them with any confidence.

    Color filters or digitally enhancing?

  9. #9
    Wayland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Saddleworth
    Posts
    482
    Real Name
    Wayland ( aka. Gary Waidson )

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Nice shot..

    I can see that where there is a fairly level horizon it makes sense to get the exposure in camera. Sadly that is not often the case with my work.

    I tried to find a similar shot from my library but this is the closest I have to hand.

    Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    This was recorded in two frames, manually blended, one for the foreground rocks and castle, another for the middle distance water and sky.

    Looking at 1:1 there is some slight noise in the deep shadows but nothing problematic IMO and considering it is from a 5D with relatively old technology by present standards, quite respectable.

    My difficulty would have been how to use a Graduated filter on this image without sinking the castle into underexposure or blowing out the middle distance sea.

    This isn't a one off, it's fairly typical of the scenes I'm shooting.

  10. #10
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,344
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Krista - the way I look at it is I will only invest in filters that I am going to use regularly; it really is a cost-benefit thing. Why would I spend money on an accessory that I am not going to get a lot of use out of, when I can emulate the effect reasonably well in post?

    Even back in the colour film days; I did a lot of my own colour darkroom work and simple colour casts were easy enough to introduce at the printing stage. Back then I had access to a set of "communal" filters courtesy of the camera club I belonged to. Even then, I would tend to use effects filters like softening filters, and these are easy to emulate in post with selective blurring. I haven't tried anything like starburst filters, etc. because these are not something I use in the type of photography I am doing right now. The colour temperature correction filters are no longer required; I did use these for shooting daylight film under tungsten lighting.

    Currently, my only "must have" filters are polarizers (there really is no effective digital substitute) and solid ND filters to control exposure (again there is no digital substitute). I also shoot graduated ND filters because more often than not I am trying to bring down the sky by two or three stops to prevent blowing out the highlights, and applying a grad in post is not going to do anything in those situations.

  11. #11
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    If you're trying to enhance a specific color, it's easiest to apply channel-wise saturation in post processing. It's possible to increase the potency of just the greens, or the greens and blues, etc., in PP without using a filter for the shot that may mess up the way other colors look. So color filters have basically fallen out of use in digital work.

    Where filters are still used has been covered, but I'll condense it below and add my two cents. Note that all of these applications cannot be effectively replicated in PP.
    • Polarizers: Used for controlling reflections and blocking reflected light. Mainly handy for shooting water, glossy surfaces, and for darkening the sky.
    • (Graduated) Neutral Density Filters: Darken part of a scene to use a camera's dynamic range more efficiently. For instance, if an image has a light and a dark part, you could cover the light part with a graduated neutral density filter (darker in one part than another) and expose for the dark part without over-exposing the light part. Handy for sunsets and bright skies. Neutral density filters are like sunglasses. They reduce the total amount of light entering the lens. True, you can do this in PP by reducing exposure, but ND filters are normally used to extend shutter speeds for various visual effects (star trails, reflections, etc.).


    Some photogs still use infrared filters, UV filters, etc., but for artistic effects, GNDs, NDs, and polarizers are basically all that's still in common use.

  12. #12
    Gospelflier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    North Idaho
    Posts
    51
    Real Name
    Krista

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Thanks, everyone. I will need to purchase a ND filter.

  13. #13
    Glenn NK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    1,510

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gospelflier View Post
    In the past you had to use filters if you wanted to enhance or downplay a color. I was thinking of buying a set of color filters and wondered if it is worth the expense? I know you can digitally enhance colors in a picture as well. Which gives the better result?
    A good idea with film, but IMO, not in the digital medium. There are eight colour sliders in Lightroom and the Hue, Saturation and Luminance can be adjusted in each one separately, and by using the Adjustment Brush, different areas can be touched up separately - these are fabulous tools.

    There is far more flexibility to control it during PP.

    As an aside, I seriously doubt that all sunset images I've seen posted have never been "adjusted".

    Glenn

  14. #14
    William W's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Sraylya
    Posts
    3,840
    Real Name
    William (call me Bill)

    Re: Color filters or digitally enhancing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gospelflier View Post
    In the past you had to use filters if you wanted to enhance or downplay a color. I was thinking of buying a set of color filters and wondered if it is worth the expense? I know you can digitally enhance colors in a picture as well. Which gives the better result?
    I like to clearer about what 'Colour Filters' we are discussing.

    Typically, as mentioned, colour filters such as red, green and yellow, etc were used for Black and White Photography to: ‘“enhance or downplay a color” as represented on the grey scale of the final image’. These filters are often known as “Contrast Filters”

    There are other filters, which have a colour to them, Bluish and Yellowish: and these filters are typically used with colour negative or positive FILM to account for an inequality in the Colour Temperature of the Lighting and the Colour Temperature Balance of the Film. These Filters are often known as “Colour Correction Filters”.

    Both these types of filters could be used with Digital Cameras, BUT:
    apropos using Contrast Filters, when the image is converted to B&W, many software packages allow for the “equivalent” of a contrast filter effect.
    apropos using Colour Correction Filters, most digital cameras have a “White Balance” function and also, in post production, the colour balance can be fine-tuned

    ***

    In regard to “Digitally enhancing colours” I see that as yet another element in the photographic process. Digitally enhancing colours, such as “saturation”, for only one example, does not really equate to either of the uses of the filters mentioned.

    So as I see it we are discussing three different elements of the Photographic Process.

    ***

    Regarding whether or not to buy a set of filters – I suggest you look seriously at how you might use them.

    If you are considering Colour Correction Filters – I would say that their use will be very limited, even if you shoot JPEG SOOC - and especially if your camera has a White Balance control.

    One (blue) CC filter can be useful if you are shooting under very low wattage incandescent lights around CT ≈ 1000~2000°K. This Filter can be used to correct the light to about 2800~3200°K, with of course a loss of aperture speed - the use is often worthwhile, but the occasions are rare.

    Also there are CC filters available to address Arc Lighting and also the various nuances of colour found in Fluorescent Lights. Tese CC Filters might be useful (or better than using PP) for digital work.

    But these are really specialty cases and generally Colour correction can be done in camera and or in Post production quite simply.

    ***

    Regarding a set of Contrast Filters, then I’d suggest these are more useful, but still of a limited and specialized use. For those who wish to shoot B&W directly out of the camera a set would be useful. Certainly, most of the cameras I have used; the “contrast filter options” available in camera for B&W JPEG, are rudimentary to say the least.

    BUT - most Photographers would shoot Colour JPEG (or raw) and then convert to B&W anyway.

    WW

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •