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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.
These days, when you say the word filter to a photographer, they probably assume you're thinking about an effects plug-in in an image editing application, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and some other editors all support the addition of little bits of extra image processing code that can be used to filter your image to create a huge assortment of effects. Before Photoshop though, if you said filter to a photographer, they assumed that you were talking about a piece of glass that screwed on to the end of a lens, and that's what we're going to be talking about in this chapter.
A camera lens, of course, is not a single piece of glass. It's a complex array of optical elements, and a Lens Filter is just one more optical element, one that you screw on to the threads on the front of a lens. A filter does just what its name implies, it filters light to create a particular effect. Now, hopefully, you already have experience with at least one type of filter, the UV or Skylight filters that most photographers put on the end of their lenses to provide protection for the front of the lens.
These filters don't usually visibly alter the light passing through, so they provide a way to protect the front element of the lens from scratches and even from breaking if you drop your camera. The elements inside your lens are all curved in one precisely engineered way or another, but lens filters are flat. This means that they don't add any magnification or distortion to your image. They serve only to change the quality of light that enters the lens. Now, there are lots and lots of different kinds of lens filters, but we're going to look at just a few.
A lot of lens filters that you can buy, honestly, don't offer much to the digital photographer. Colored filters, for example, are far more useful to the black and white film shooter than they are to a digital shooter because our black and white process is just simply very different. Many of the lens filters that are out there can be replicated digitally using that other type of filter, the kind you use in your image editor. So in this chapter, I'm sticking with lens filters that are of particular use to digital photographers, and that create effects that are not easily replicated in an image editor.
Now, honestly, there aren't a lot of these, which is nice because it means you don't actually need a huge investment in lens filters. However, the things that we're going to look at here can be extremely useful and might in fact be required if you want to shoot certain things. If you like shooting cloudy skies, for example, if you regularly shoot shinny surfaces, water, if you shoot through windows, if you like shooting architecture, or if you want to create certain atmospheric looks then you're going to need to invest in some of the lens filters that you'll see here in this chapter.
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