Camera Filters

Written by James Lyons
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Camera filters enable photographers to manipulate light so they can produce the best quality photograph. Photographers and cinematographers also use filters as a way to communicate a certain style or tone. When you go to the movies, you might encounter a film that has a certain color theme going like the movie "Traffic." The director, cinematographer and production crew used blues and yellows to set a certain tone for the film.

Camera filters are translucent or transparent optical devices that adjust the properties of light entering the camera lens for the function of enhancing the image being documented. Filters can affect sharpness, color, and light intensity. They can also generate an assortment of "special effects." Photographers use camera filters to create their own sense of magic.

Artistic Filters

Camera filters are an integral part of the filmmaking process as well. Photographers use filters in much the same way as filmmakers. If a photographer wants to take a picture and evoke feelings of peace and serenity, she might uses filters to flood in blues and greens. If, on the other hand, the photographer wants to illicit feelings of rage and hate, she might flood in reds and blacks. It all depends on what the person behind the camera is trying to communicate.

When used successfully, filter effects are seamless--they merge with the rest of the image to help communicate the message rather than become the message. Mixed with all the other facets of image-making, filters make visual declarations, influence emotions and thought, and make believable what otherwise might not be.


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