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Lens filters that Photoshop can't replace
March 06, 2013

Dear Stay Focussed reader,

Welcome to the latest newsletter.

What with all the apps and software available to photographers these days I wondered recently, is there any need for filters any more?

And by filters I mean the type that you attach to your camera (or hold over the end of the lens if you're using a compact camera).

There was, of course, a time when that was the only way you could change an image. Then came digital photography, and hot on its heels came Photoshop.

Want a filter? You're only a few mouse clicks from adding one to any image you care to mention. But I think there's still a need for a couple of actual, real world, filters.

Still a need for filters

There are two filters that, no matter how much Photoshop trickery you employ, you still can't re-create the effect. One is the polarizing filter (keep reading below), and the other is a neutral density filter (next month).

Taking the polarizer then ... a polarizing filter blocks out light hitting the lens, allowing light from one angle only to hit the image sensor.

Why is this useful? Imagine trying to photograph a scene with water in it. You have the light from the scene coming straight into the lens, and also the reflected light from the water.

Adding a polarizing filter cuts out the light from the water and allows you to better "see through" the water.

Have a look at the photo below (not mine I have to admit) that shows the effect nicely. The left side is without the polarizing filter, and the right side is with:

poor example of a poor photo for ebay

The effect - the ability to "peer through" the water - is impossible to replicate using software.

By the way, polarising lenses are also, sometimes, used in sunglasses! You'll know if you've got them because they cut out the reflection from glass, rather than basic sunglasses that just cut the light from everything.

So there you go, one filter that creates an effect that's impossible to recreate in Photoshop.

Next month I'll give you a bit of info about neutral density filters. Until then, join me on Facebook, and, have a look at the latest photography tips added to the site - use the links to the right.

Darrell. on Facebook

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