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Do You Need Lens Filters?

Lesson 48 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

Do You Need Lens Filters?

Lesson 48 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

48. Do You Need Lens Filters?


Class Trailer



Workshop Intro






Gear - My Camera Bags


Mastering Camera Settings


Blue Hour, A How-To


Photos That Move Us


Visual Storytelling 101


Endurance In A World Of Sprinting


Keeping Your Ideas Fresh


Building Your Story Arc


Shooting More: Action Plan


Conveying Emotions


In the Field


The Assignment: Himalaya Pre-Pro


In the Field: The Himalaya Defender Shoot


The Assignment: Canon Pre-Pro


In the Field: Canon USA Shoot




Keywords & Organizing Images


Commercial Grading


Masking & Radial Filters


Perspective Correction


HDR (Hand-Held)


Black & White Edits


Before & Afters


Moody Grading


IG Export Settings


Web Export Settings


Clone Stamping & Patch Tools


Grading in Lightroom


Hand-Held Panoramas


Radial Filters Pt 2


Delivering Files to Clients


Archiving & Organizing Images


My Favorite Software




Let's Talk Business


Building A Desirable Portfolio


How to Contact Clients


Prospecting: Finding Brands That Fit You


Getting Clients To See Our Value


Paid to Travel the World


The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments


Keys To A Fulfilling Career


Three Things You Need To Know Before Pitching


Finding Your Value Proposition


Media Kit: A Walk Through


How I Built My Audience


Social Media Landscape


Module Recap


Bonus - Everything To Know About Filters


Do You Need Lens Filters?


Filters in The Field


Bonus - Find Your Path


Find Your Path


Bonus - How To Print Your Work


Why Print or Sell Photos


Preparing Photos for Print


Reviewing Major U.S Printers


Lesson Info

Do You Need Lens Filters?

(calm music) Welcome to everything you need to know about filters. (calm music) Before we begin let me just explain that I've recently grown fond of using filters. I believe in simplicity and removing as many barriers as I can to making photos. So I never really cured any filters besides one of these, a circle polarizer. It's only after I started making workshops for you guys that I got interested in more areas of gear and I started looking into the uses that all these things have. So I'm very excited to show you what I've learned through my personal research and my usage of it. So in this episode my goal is to answer the age-old question of, do I need a lens filter or not? Then I will walk you through each filter's intended use, give you my opinion on it, and then we'll take this whole thing into the field for some cold winter shooting. Number one, the UV filter. So, I have a bunch of filters to show you right now but the only one I don't have is the UV. And there's a simple reason ...

for that is that I don't use a UV and I'm gonna tell you why but for now let me just explain. UV stands for ultraviolet light. And back in the days of film photography some of films were sensitive to UV light which would give a haze to the images so people had to use UV filters. So modern camera sensors, however, they're not sensitive at all to UV light so they became completely obsolete. Now people mainly use UV filters to protect their expensive glass from scratches and things. Others will argue that it protects their lens if they drop their lens because the UV will take the hit. From my experience, UV filters have caused more damage than they've done any good. I've seen literally UV filters crack and bend, the whole lens mount, while the glass on the lens on, they don't even move. So from my experience, they don't do much, you don't need to block UV light 'cause your sensor already does it on your camera. And then usually the lens on your glass is much stronger than the lens on the UV and also of better quality so if you get a UV filter, I recommend you go for a quality one because the cheap ones will create unneeded sun flares and reduce contrast on your image and you lose a bit of sharpness so there's really no point in getting a cheap one if you need one. Number two, ND filters. So I have several NDs here from PolarPro. These go from ND 1000 which means that it's really dark and you'll see it right here. Can't even see through it, I just see myself. Then a more reasonable ND8 that you can see through, and an ND64. So the usual range of NDS goes from ND4 to ND and you have more extreme guys like this. These are pretty nifty. They slide into this whole mounting system. It's also from PolarPro. The advantage of this is that you don't have to screw in and screw up filters, you just screw in this whole thing on your lens, and then these guys will just simply slide in, slide out. So, now some nitty gritty. ND, so what does ND stand for? ND stands for neutral-density. The goal of an ND is to reduce the amount of light that come through your lens, right? So if you're shooting a slower eclipse for example, or the earth exploding you'd use an ND1000. If however you wanna reduce a waterfall, are you gonna slow down the motion on a waterfall? Like roll your shutter a little slower, you use an ND8 for example. So the number of the ND stands for how much light they cut. You've got that. So it's a bit weird the way that it does it. ND4 is not four stops, there's only two stops for example. So it's all exponential like lens aperture. So I found this chart and it explains everything so here it is. NDs are also very helpful to filmmakers who need to keep their frame rate at 24 frames per second for example while keeping a more shallow aperture. I found them to be useful to shoot at a low aperture in harsh light. That's a use I haven't seen a lot. So, you stick one on a 50 1.2 for example, or an 85, 1.2, and you can be shooting somebody in like the harsh light at F 2. thanks to the ND. Then you get like this really cool shallow depth of field on this harsh light image which is not things you see every day. It's gonna reseparate the subject from the background. So that's it for NDs. Mainly they're useful for filmmakers and if you wanna take either slow shutter photos in the daylight to make water more reflective, or waterfall, obviously, or the less obvious is to make very shallow depth of field photos in really harsh light. Number three, the variable ND filter. This is one of fair ones over the NDs because it's so compact and handy you don't need the whole kit. If you like traveling light, like I do, then you probably are gonna want a variable ND. So the advantage of the VND is that you get a range of stops within the same piece of glass. So you twist this little ring and you take one to four stops off. The pain on your needs which is huge. This one I have in my hands is also from PolarPro and it's made in conjunction with my buddy, Peter McKinnon, I think his name is on this right here, yeah. Pretty far away but this is Peter's filter. So thanks Peter for making this filter. I quite like it for its small footprint. So number four, the gradient ND. This one is... The only ones I have for the gradient NDs are in this big plates that go on the summit system again. Grad NDs I've been growing fond of them actually. So as their name implies gradient NDs have a gradient built in from the bottom to the top of the glass. That's gonna either darken the bottom of your image or the top depending on which way you slide it. So I've been using these at night. This is an ND4 that I use quite often. And I've been using this at night to, for example, shoot on the same exposure get, for example, my tent lit up, or snow cave, hint, hint hint of what's coming up next, and then getting the stars exposed well, right? Because usually the tent is brighter, right? Because it's in the darkness and it's got lights inside and then the sky is a bit darker than the tent. So usually you do a bracketed exposure, three exposure like an HDR, but if it's cold and you don't wanna spend too much time on it, or you simply don't wanna tinker with editing, you use one of these so then stick it like this darker part of the image is at the top, like the sky's here, and then brighter part is here where the green is darkest so you get it all in one exposure. It's pretty cool. So like I said, you can definitely use bracketing instead of these, but I found out you'd have to deal with a bit of tripod shake which happens to the best of us, or if it's windy and you tend to flapping, or there's trees, you're gonna have to mess around with Photoshop to fix all these movement in three different exposures. Essentially the GND will save you time when it comes to shooting scenes where the top of the image is darker than the bottom or vice versa. Number five, the CPL or circular polarizer. So I have one here from PolarPro for a change. So this one is circular and it's polarized. So polarizes exist to cut reflections on non metallic objects like water or glass or wet surfaces. And they also happen to increase saturation in our images. CPLs are useful for example when we wanna show how clear the water is somewhere, right? And you wanna see all the way through the bottom of that lake, CPL, or you wanna shoot through a windshield, somebody through windshield, or maybe a house window, or you just want a very vibrant sky. It's gonna saturate the sky and it's gonna cut reflection on the window so you can see through it. The only downside of the CPL I'd say is that it cuts one to two stops of light. So if you're shooting somewhere already a blue hour, you'd have to compensate with ISO and it's not the best. So I'd say that the CPLs are best used when it's brat out unless you have a tripod and you wanna mess with the whole system. But this one is super nifty and I can literally pack it here. And yeah, good things to say about CPLs. Like I said, it's the only one I've carried for years. Okay, that was everything you need to know about filters studio part. Now we're gonna go outside. I have an Expedition jacket on and it's pretty cool out. We're gonna go do a few fun random things with filters and make some photos. See you out. (jacket zipping)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

A Note From Alex

Ratings and Reviews


Not What I Was Expecting Let me just start by saying that the workshop was very good. There were lots of things that I learned and many insights I took away. Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom imparted to me was not anything Alex said but how he approached every subject he talked about. I felt that he was talking to me as a friend, very personal and open book. This was both a blessing and a curse as the course tends to meander around and is not as structured as others I've taken. Alex's passion for the highest quality, and craftsmanship in every aspect of his business, is very evident. From the premiums he charges, to the attention to detail in client deliveries. This is where my review is going to give some hopefully constructive criticisms. For someone so focused on a premium experience I was a surprised to find the course a bit sloppily assembled, and the videography and editing lackluster. This is coming from a videographer and someone with a lot of experience in online training. A few short examples to illustrate my point include: repeating segments of the edit (in some instances the exact same segment), poor framing. Colors changing between cuts, and my biggest pet peeve, not leaving photo examples on for long enough to see them. These are all small things, but they add up, and along with the topics meandering, left me a bit disappointed. I'm curious who you would say this class is aimed towards. Amateurs, mid-level, or experts? The assumption of who you are addressing changes throughout the course. I feel like with a bit of work from an instructional designer, and some editing cleanup, you could help hone this course to be one of the best out there. I feel like I need to do a more in depth review than will fit here, to actually explain this well. Let me know if that would be helpful to you. One other note: When I signed up for a workshop on Adventure Photography, I honestly thought it would be more field focused. The field examples were all shoots for products, and not shoots documenting an adventure. I guess I had just hoped to learn that side of the storytelling process more. Getting into the nitty gritty of being wet, cold, and dirty, and still shooting bangers. The section on filters (going out and building the snow cave) was more what I thought this course was going to be. Anyhow, with all that said, I still found it valuable and worthwhile. To summarize, the course feels a bit unpolished and in some ways unfinished though there is still great value. I've taken Jimmy Chin's Masterclass on adventure photography and it felt very structured and highly polished. I purchased "Adventure Pro" on the "finish in a month" discount. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price with the course in its current state. Thanks for reading and I hope my criticisms come as helpful. As I've already mentioned I'd be happy to further elaborate.

Topher Hammond

One of the best photography investments I'm only 1/4 of the way through Alex's course and I feel like I already have a loose plan on how I can move forward in my own career as a photographer. I felt like my work was lacking a specific feeling. The way that Alex articulated ideas on how to convey emotion in your imagery and building that overarching story arc for your own life narrative were super helpful to focus on how to make my work better. Super looking forward to the rest of this course. Thanks Alex and team!

Sergi Mas de xaxars Rosell

Great Workshop I learned quite a lot with this workshop. Because I'm in the industry for 5 years now, there were a few things I already knew. On the other hand, Alex showed me different and more effective ways to improve my business. I like the way he gives the lessons, always in a personal and close way. This is the knowledge I wish I had when I started. Totally worth it!

Student Work