Most Important Camera Filters for Taking Amazing Photos

Do you wish you knew how to add vibrant colors and capture stunning photographs like the pros? Camera filters could be your key to creating amazing images.

When you mention camera filters to the average person, they’ll probably think of Instagram or smartphone camera filters.

But physical camera filters were around long before those. And for professional photographers, they are must-have for capturing photos that stand out from the crowd.

A boat on a lake at sunset, photographed using a polarising camera filter

What Are Camera Filters?

Camera filters are pieces of glass that fit over your lens. By altering the light which passes over them, they can;

  • Accentuate colors of a scene
  • Highlight a specific color or tone of an object
  • Enhance the natural beauty of a portrait subject
  • Get rid of reflections and glare

But, which filters do we need for accomplishing these goals?

Let us walk you through the basic camera filter types and what they do, so you can choose ones to help you create amazing images.

1. Polarizing Filters

If you capture landscape photography, real estate photography, or travel photography, your images could be greatly enhanced with a polarizing filter.

A polarising filter, another classic among camera filters

What Does a Polarizing Filter Do?

A polarizer, or polarizing filter, is used to manage reflections, combat glare (usually from water), or to darken skies on photos.

Adjusting a polarizer removes the glare produced by reflecting light. It also reduces haze due to atmospheric scattering, which is essentially another form of reflection.

Using a polarizer is simple: view the scene through the viewfinder and rotate the filter on its mount to find your desired effect.

When to Use Polarizing Filters

There are specific situations when it’s best to use a polarizing filter. These include when you are photographing the following:

  • Blue skies: a polarizer filter can darken the blue color and make the clouds stand out from the sky.
  • Plants: leaves on trees or blades of grass are reflective, which can result in a lack of detail and blurred images. The use of a polarizer filter will reduce the glare of the reflections, revealing detail otherwise obscured.
  • Water: both still water and moving water are highly reflective. A polarizing filter will deepen the blue or green of the water and may even allow you to see underwater.
  • Glass: windows of buildings reflect any light that hits them. Reduce the strength of reflections with a polarizing filter.
  • Shiny metal: this is the exception to the rule–a polarizing camera filter will NOT reduce reflections on metal. You’ll need to use the polarizer on the light source itself. A dulling agent can also be applied to the metal if you’re out of options.

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