Lighting

How To Correctly Tone Your Photographs

Aside from the warming and cooling filters, you can also use the full range of filters especially if you want to enhance the contrast between various elements in your image, to apply a color cast for artistic effect, or to draw the viewers’ attention to certain features in your photograph. Tonal filters are also used to enhance the brightness objects of similar color when doing black and white photography.

photoAside from many photographers, graphic artists and designers also use colored filters to apply their desired tones to their photographers.  The use of filters can help highlight and dramatize a photograph.  The most commonly used filters are the cooling filters and the warming filters.  The warm filters are usually used to achieve warm orange tones while cooling filters are used for cool blue tones.

Aside from the warming and cooling filters, you can also use the full range of filters especially if you want to enhance the contrast between various elements in your image, to apply a color cast for artistic effect, or to draw the viewers’ attention to certain features in your photograph.  Tonal filters are also used to enhance the brightness objects of similar color when doing black and white photography.

If you are planning to use colored or tonal filters in your photographs, you must know how to correctly use them so that you can achieve the effect that you want.  Here are some of the considerations you have to keep in mind when using filters:

Putting Filters Correctly

The correct usage of filters starts with putting them correctly.  You need to screw the filter you chose to the front of your camera lens.  You will find that the threads on the end of your lens will match the threads on the filter.  The threads on the end of the lens are the same ones that you use for lens hoods.  Screw your filter clockwise and make sure that it is snug against the lens.  If you don’t feel that it is not placed snugly, repeat the process until you feel that its snugness is just right.

Lighting

You need to analyze the scene you are planning to shoot and the available light present.  You can use your naked eye or you can use a light meter to determine the color temperature.  Color temperature refers to the blueness or orangeness of the available lighting.  It would also be helpful to look for an area in the scene you are trying to shoot that should be white like snow, a road sign, or a white building and take note of the color vis-à-vis the lighting conditions of the scene.

After doing this, choose a color filter to enhance or balance the lighting of the scene before you. For example, you can use a cooling blue filter to neutralize the warmer lighting of night shots under tungsten lights, which is used in most streetlights.  Also, if you are shooting underwater and you want to exaggerate the water’s blueness, you can also use the same filter.

Camera Settings

If you are using filters, you need to disable your camera’s automatic white balance.  Digital cameras usually analyze the tone of photographs and they apply adjustments automatically to neutralize any color cast.  Since you want to induce a tone by using colored filters, you need to disable the white balance setting of your camera.

Shutter Speed

Since a portion of the light spectrum is blocked by tonal filters, this limits the amount of light that enters your camera.  To compensate for this loss of light, you need to reduce your shutter speed.  Consequently, use a tripod to minimize your camera shake when you are using tonal filters at night.

Taking Pictures

When taking pictures using filters, look through the viewfinder of your camera after putting in the filter you have chosen to use.  The viewfinder collects the light that comes from the lens.  Since the filter is positioned over the lens, the image that will appear in your viewfinder will be the same tone as on the final image.  This way, you can have an idea whether you were able to achieve the tonal effect you desire.

These techniques can be used both on personal/hobby photography or for those who are about to start a photography business on a budget, start a swipe file to collect the tips you like on this site. One easy way is to start a free bookmarking service with any of the bookmarks below. My favourite is StumbleUpon but everyone has a different preference.

…all the best,

Ray Baker