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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
If you've ever worn polarized sunglasses, then you already know the dramatic change that can happen when you polarize light in front of a lens, and we're going to do that now with a polarizing filter on the end of our lens. Before we get to that, I want to say we're here at the new Visitor Experience at the Golden Gate Bridge. I've lived in San Francisco for 25 years, and they've just changed this. I've got to say it's remarkable, how cool it is here. The bridge has always been a thing that's a must see when you come to San Francisco, and now it's even better. They've got this cool new pavilion that's got a lot of really nice stuff inside, a lot of great history of the bridge.
This was the bridge that couldn't be built, so actually the story of its construction is really cool. There is a cafe that's got much better food than used to be here. Really nice options. So this is definitely worth seeing when you come to San Francisco, and it's really worth walking at least halfway across the bridge. It's a really cool experience and they've got some guided tours and things you can do here. One thing you might notice about the bridge is it's orange. This is a great contrast against the blue of the water. However, the blue is really, really blue because it's reflecting the sky. One of the cool things you can do with a polarizing filter that you cannot do in post-production is control reflections.
This can be a critical thing if you are trying to shoot through windows, if you're shooting against glass, if you are shootings against reflective tables inside a house, that sort of thing. What we've got here, the problem is the water is really reflective. So take a look at this. We've put a circular polarizer. It's called a circular polarizer because it actually rotates. We've put it on the end of our camera and watch what happens as the polarizer is rotated. Pay particular attention to the water. Notice that it's changing color. We can remove the reflection of the blue sky, and get really down to just the green of the water.
And when we do that, the orange of the bridge really pops also. So, we're really changing the color of the entire scene, not an unrealistic shift, but making some nice distinction between the bridge and the water. And notice also the sky is getting a better gradient. Here are a couple of stills that I shot. Here's without the circular polarizer, and here's with, so same shot, with and without, we get very different results. Some other examples here, controlling reflections, this can be really critical to simplify your image.
If you've got distracting reflections, you can take them out altogether. Now, polarizers have another really handy use, and that's when you're shooting skies. You've seen a little bit of a change of the gradient of the sky when we were looking at the bridge, but if there are clouds in the sky, you can really make them dramatic, you can really make them punchy, you can really make them pop. Using the polarizer is very easy. You just stick on the end of your lens and turn it. And you can actually see the effects through your viewfinder whether it's an optical viewfinder or whether it's a live view screen. So, this is a really handy thing to have in your bag.
It's not an everyday item, but for times when you are finding your image hassled by reflection or when you've got really dramatic skies, and you want to punch them up, or if you've got skies that seem a little flatten, you could use a little extra drama, a circular polarizer is going to be a way to deal with all of those situations and to deal within the way that you simply cannot achieve in post-production.
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