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Plenty of people thought the advent of digital cameras would remove the need for filters. Wrong!
All it did was open up even more possibilities by way of post-shoot digital filtration/manipulation.
There are two ways to go: you may need filtration to correct the quality and characteristics of the ambient light; or you may desire to adjust the rendering of a scene to accord with your own personal vision.
Author of Creative Optical & Digital Filter Techniques Meehan points out that the earliest filters were used “to correct disparities between light and film.” When B&W was king the resourceful portraitist called upon the effects given by soft focus or diffusing filters to remove skin blemishes or even to diffuse the natural world.
This useful book begins with a discussion on the intensity and contrast of light: how to minimise the former and adjust the latter. It also makes the point that using studio lighting gives you enormous control of the quality of light, by way of reflectors, softboxes, scrims etc.
A useful chapter touches on colour temperature and how to deal with colour casts and mixed lighting, an area that often confuses the beginner. Meehan uses a shot of NY’s Grand Central station to illustrate his point; the scene is mostly lit with tungsten light but with masses of daylight streaming through enormous windows; he chose to white balance for daylight — the right decision.
He then gives a list of the most useful optical filters: the polariser, naturally, is first; neutral density filters come next; coloured grad filters follow, then soft focus, diffusion etc. These chapters are most useful for those utterly confounded by an excess of choice!
The latter half of the book covers digital software, stand-alone apps and plug-ins. Some of the products described are Pixel Genius’ PhotoKit Color, Color Mechanic Pro, the iCorrect programs, Tiffen Dfx.
This book fills a pressing need. I hope all photographers get to see it, use it and benefit from it. Recommended.