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Tip: using HDR doesn't mean you can't use filters

Monday, November 19, 2012

Many photographers doing HDR photography don't use any filters on their lenses (apart maybe from UV filter used as a protection). However, it's a big mistake in my opinion. Why? As I said before, HDR is about light and detail not colour. So basically whatever you can do to enhance colour is good. When shooting landscapes I almost always have circular polarizing filter with me. It helps me in making the colours more saturated and rich and also removes unwanted reflections - not only from water but from objects in the scene. You might consider warming or cooling filters if you like them (I'm not great fan of them I must admit).

Moreover, despite the fact the HDR is about light it doesn't mean that you can't influence exposure to slow down time. HDR just makes sure everything is properly exposed: from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights - it doesn't care whether shutter speed is fast or slow. Feel free to use neutral (and colour) density filters to create smooth water or even use gradual density filter - the last one might sound weird but I found out that using it with HDR creates slightly different and more dramatic mood. What you can even do is using Infrared filter for HDR photography. Note however that you might end up with very long exposures with the last one.

What I'm trying to say here is that HDR isn't something special and you should treat it differently. Do you use filters normally? Then use them with HDR as well. You don't use them? Then give them a try because often the results are superior to what is possible to achieve in Photoshop :)

Ok, a few words about a photo from this blog post now. I took it near El Cotillo. Although the town didn't impress me as you could have read on my profiles on Facebook or Google+, the surroundings are stunning, from beautiful beaches, cliffs, to a wonderful desert with some mountains in the back. And yes, I did use circular polarizing filter here. Otherwise, even with HDR, the colours would be slightly different.

EXIF data:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 28 mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure time: 1/500 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2 E.V.
Flash used: no
Tripod used: no
Filters used: circular polarizing filter
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 4.2.4, Lightroom 4.1, Photoshop CS5

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