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-   -   Filters, especially polarizers? (https://www.fodors.com/community/africa-and-the-middle-east/filters-especially-polarizers-647693/)

Mediatorr Sep 19th, 2006 09:07 PM

Filters, especially polarizers?
 
There has been very little discussion here regarding using filters at safari camps. What are your opinions about using polarizers? I would normally use one, assuming sufficient light, when taking nature photographs but, here, I'm sure it's impossible to change filters while on a game drive because of dust. Also, I'm wondering about the built-in color filter functions many digital cameras have. I've never even tried them but I suppose they could be interesting. On the other hand, it might be possible to achieve the same result after the fact with PhotoShop.
I would love to hear the thinking of the photographers on this site.

afrigalah Sep 19th, 2006 10:57 PM

You'll find polarisers are very popular. But I never use them for wildlife, not even to counter the harsh light of the middle hours of the day. I may be wrong, but I don't think you'll find many serious wildlife photographers who do use polarisers. I do use them occasionally for landscape photography, to intensify colour. The filters I use most often are warming filters, for both wildlife and landscapes. They have a gentler, more natural effect on image colour and don't reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor/film. They're almost permanently attached to my lenses, serving the protective purpose that many use UV or skylight filters for.

John


Kavey Sep 20th, 2006 02:41 AM

I would not travel without my polarising filters though I don't use them for wildlife photography unless the light is unusually hazy and I want to cut some of the haze out.

I use them mostly for landscapes where I'm including an expanse of blue sky with fluffy white clouds - the filter can help deepend the blue, creating more contrast between sky and cloud.

Also useful to reduce reflections on water/ shiny surfaces.

Shooting digitally, and always in RAW, I don't bother with warm up filters as one can create exactly the same result by adjusting the White Balance blue/ yellow temperature scale during conversion. This gives complete control over exactly how much I want to warm up each individual image and leaves me the option of not warming it at all if I choose.

If you shoot film or you shoot digitally, but not in RAW, you don't have that same leeway to adjust colour temperature so easily later so a warm up filter is the best way to go for that slightly golden glow.

(JPEGs do allow colour adjustment but not in the same way as RAW files, the flexibility is greatly reduced).

afrigalah Sep 20th, 2006 04:23 AM

"Shooting digitally, and always in RAW, I don't bother with warm up filters as one can create exactly the same result by adjusting the White Balance blue/ yellow temperature scale during conversion."- Kavey

I understand that...you can do an awful lot post-shutter with digital images, and that's certainly the way to go if you shoot digitally. My final product, though, is the trannie, so I rely on post-shutter work in most instances to match the slide, no more, no less. If the slide doesn't satisfy me, the shot is a relative failure (not necessarily useless, though).

John

cooncat3 Sep 20th, 2006 05:20 AM

I kept UV filters on my lenses for protection. I might bring some others along to play with next time. After all, they weigh little, and with digital, you can just delete!

Bill_H Sep 20th, 2006 06:46 AM

"What are your opinions about using polarizers?"

I agree with John and Kavey, they are sometimes useful for landscapes but not used often for wildlife. We took pols in January and never used them but in April we had a lot of rain and used the pols several times to intensify the sky when we had rainbows and to cut down the glare on vegetation after rains.

"I'm sure it's impossible to change filters while on a game drive because of dust"

We just carry anti-static brushes, clean the surfaces and screw in the filters. Not a problem.

"I'm wondering about the built-in color filter functions many digital cameras have. I've never even tried them but I suppose they could be interesting. On the other hand, it might be possible to achieve the same result after the fact with PhotoShop."

If you are shooting RAW mode you can change the 'white balance' during processing with no damage to the image but if you wait to do it in Photoshop the tonal range typically gets compressed. In other words it's "free" to do it during RAW conversion. If you shoot jpegs instead of RAW you should try to get the proper 'white balance' setting in the camera so when the camera does the RAW-to-jpeg conversion internally it's as close as possible.

Bill



Kavey Sep 20th, 2006 07:23 AM

Yep, John, where you're not working primarily in digital RAW format it absolutely makes sense to use warm up filters at the time of shooting. I used to have a basic filters set when I shot film but I misplaced the whole lot some years back (lord knows how or where). Not that I miss (or ever used) the 70s style star burst and soft focus effect filters but the warm up ones were useful!


jasher Sep 20th, 2006 11:13 AM

Hello,

Like Kavey, I primarily use my polariser for shooting landscapes, particularly in the Delta where you can get a lot of relfections off the water. Like John, I've also found it helpful to intensify colour, particularly if I see something interesting around midday (e.g. from the deck in camp) when the sun is high and colours a bit washed out.

I used to bring warming filters, but ditched them this time -- I didn't find that I missed them.

The UV filters stay on all of my lenses at all times.

Personally, I tried to avoid changing lenses and filters in the vehicle -- having two bodies meant that I was covered for most situations, though I occasionally did need to add on or remove a teleconverter. I did clean my gear religiously during the daily siesta -- it's amazing how much dust can get in there even when you don't change anything in the vehicle.

Cheers,
Julian

africaddict Sep 29th, 2006 09:48 PM

Quote: "The UV filters stay on all of my lenses at all times."

Julian,
Unless you have one of the very expensive
thin CP filters, you should take off the UV filter when using your Pol filter otherwise you'll get quite nasty vignetting when used wide on those landscapes shots.

Cheers
Marc

jasher Sep 30th, 2006 09:56 AM

Hello Marc,

I have a super-thin CP which I bought specifically for that reason. I haven't seen any vignetting on any of the shots I took at the 16mm end of my 16-35 so it seems to have worked.

Cheers,
Julian

afrigalah Sep 30th, 2006 11:02 PM

Julian,

Do you stack your filters? It probably doesn't matter for low res web display and small prints, but it can be a disadvantage if you're looking for high quality reproduction. Generally, the less glass you add to your lens, the better.

John


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