Back in the days when I shot film Singh-Ray filters were an indispensable part of my technique that enabled me to control the light, balance dynamic range and give a little extra snap to every image. Fast forward to the digital age and the same still holds true.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of saying “I’ll just fix it in post”, but the truth is filters are every bit as important in the digital age as they were in the days of celluloid. Photography after all is about shaping and controlling light, and whether your vision is recorded on silver or sensor there is still no substitute for capturing the best possible image up front.
Two filters that I consider essential are the Singh-Ray Galen Rowell graduated neutral density (GND) and the LB Color Combo polarizer. The GND is available in several densities with both hard and soft transitions allowing you to perfectly balance the contrast in the scene. These indispensable filters are ideal for landscape work where the foreground is in shadow and the background has direct light. Through the viewfinder washed out clouds suddenly become more defined and foreground subjects emerge from the shadows and retain their natural color.
The polarizing filter blocks scattered light rays to remove reflections from water and foliage and definitely spends more time on the front of my lens than any other. By turning the filter, you can control the amount of polarized light reaching the lens, which has the added benefit of saturating colors, darkening skies and increasing overall contrast. In addition, the polarizer works like a neutral density filter to slow exposure times allowing for a silky effect when shooting flowing water.
Singh-Ray has many other excellent filters available, but these two filters are a great starting point for creating more dynamic images and saving considerable time at the computer.
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