Grip Tools: Filters
Now we're gonna talk a little bit about filters. And I know that in today's modern age of digital post-production, sometimes people forget about how wonderful filters are and how useful they are for certain things. And so I'm gonna talk about the step-up ring, I'm gonna talk about the UV filter, the polarizer or the circular polarizer, the neutral density filter, and one of my favorites, something called the Black Pro Mist. And so these are kinda the filters that I pull from on a relatively regular basis and so I wanna make you guys aware of those and you're gonna see these in practice later on. So, the first one is the step-up ring. You also have like, there's something called a step-down ring. I don't actually use these because the lenses that I use these on are the same filter, same size, but if you have a filter that's really big and you wanna make it fit multiple lenses, you can use something called a step-up or a step-down ring so that different mounts can fit on something larger...
. So you buy one and then you buy step-up or step-down rings and it solves you from having to buy more filters. So you buy one filter that fits multiple rings, right? It just give you flexibility for that. The UV filter or the Ultraviolet filter is something that I think a lot of people tell you right off the bat when you're buying a new lens, you put this on to protect it. I mean, it does make a small, tiny difference visually in the image but it's more about just protecting the lens than anything else. It's just a clear filter. I don't have that to show you, it's just a protection filter. That's just something that people talk about quite a bit. It changes the way UV light looks a little bit, makes it a little bit more, a little bit nicer to see but that's not really what I wanna focus on when I talk about filters. I wanna talk about stuff like this. This is the polarizer and the system that I use, you can obviously buy a zillion different filters and stack them all on but I use a filter system because I think it's a little bit less cumbersome. The one that I use is, this is by, this is a Wine Country Camera, it's just this really nice filter and it uses slide filters so you can put multiple slides in it. And on the back is where it mounts to the lens and this is where my step-up ring would mount. But it's got a built in polarizer. And so what the polarizer does is it allows you to change, so I rotate it here, and it changes how effective it is, but what it does is it removes reflections in glass or minimizes reflections in glass. And so you can kinda see in the left image versus the right how it makes the glass look. Now I will say this, I actually prefer the left image because I think it adds more depth. I think the right looks like a painted window and I don't think it gives you a lot to look at but a really good way to use a polarizer filter is when you're doing the driving thing and remember they're having the conversation through the windshield of the car? I use a polarizer filter to cut down on those reflections so you can see the people on the inside. So when you're shooting through glass, it gives you the ability to control what the glass looks like. And so I used this on the second shoot that you're gonna see. I had glass on the tops of these planes and I'm able to control what the reflections look like coming through that glass. In addition to that, a polarizer filter will also make skies appear more blue and give you a lot more density out of the sky so that's a really helpful way to use a polarizer filter when you wanna make the sky look a little bit nicer and maybe it's blown out a little bit so it brings it back. So two different uses for the polarizer, either shooting through glass or making the skies a little bit darker. And what you wanna do is vary it until you get the effect that you want. You can see it right as you look through the frame, that's the beauty of this, okay? Now we move to the neutral density filter. And I love, I love, love, love the ND filter. The ND filter, I know that in the time of high speed sync that we're not necessarily as likely to remember that this is probably another way to do it but with film, they're usually shooting at a relatively slow shutter speed, they're at 1/60th of a second, probably pretty commonly, and when you're shooting outside it makes everything really bright, especially if you wanna shoot at a really low aperture to give you that shallow depth of field. And so what an ND filter allows you to do is it puts sunglasses on the lens and it allows you to darken the image down to give you a much shallower depth of field if you choose to use it. Also, I don't have high speed sync on the camera in the system that I use, I max out at 1/125th of a second so this allows me to get that shallow depth of field but still overpower daylight and give me what would look like high speed sync or a really fast, like a leaf shutter. So it gives me that effect without actually having it. And so with this system in particular for example, like I basically take the filter. This is a 1.5, so it looks like this, slides in, and it sunglasses over the lens. This is a 1.5, a 1.5 is gonna be about three stops. You can also get ones that are variable, you can also get ones, like this is a six stop, and it's real dark. That's a six stop. But I like this because it's just about what I want the outside to look like. I'm usually more likely to use a three stop versus a six because the outside is gonna be really dark at six. The other thing is, when you're using a polarizer in conjunction with an ND it can add half to almost a full stop extra darkness on top of that so know that that also gives you some leniency. And then what I would do is if I wanted to make that background a little bit brighter, all I do is lower the shutter speed. And that's how you do that, you control ambient when you're using strobes with shutter speed. So that becomes a way that I can do that. And that's me shooting at f/11 versus 2. and the shutter speed is the same. Obviously I tweaked the ISO a little bit but it gives you that really beautiful cinematic look, some nice separation with the depth of field. And so that's just by adding in the neutral density filter and changing exposure. This is the other example of that. This is the same thing, I went out in the other direction and this is 2.8 versus 13. And then what I did was I also varied the shutter speed a little bit to add in a little bit more light in the background. Obviously it doesn't have to be a true one to one translation of just let me turn the aperture down, you still have the ability to control shutter speed and ISO but it is giving me about a three stop difference by the time all those calculations are put into place. And the light on the face looks pretty much the same and the background gives you that really nice separation. I'm not seeing as much of the ugly things in the back as much, the distractions, and it gives me a little bit more of that cinematic look. ND filter, great solution when working with strobes outside. Now we get to one of my favorite things that most photographers don't know about and that's the Black Pro Mist. And the Black Pro Mist, this is made by Tiffen. They're relatively inexpensive. I mean, this one's about 70 bucks. It looks like this, this new normal, right? But what the Black Pro Mist does is it's sort of kind of like a haze machine in a filter. And it's not really like that glamorous, hazy filter. What it does is it tends to make highlights bloom but it does a better job at not making the rest of the image have that effect. So you can kinda see like his face doesn't look soft, the rest of the image doesn't look soft, but the whole thing kinda has a little bit of a hazy look to it. And so the light on the flashlight glows a little bit, the lights on the ceiling glow a little bit, and it just adds a whole lot more atmosphere instantly and this is especially helpful when you are dealing with locations that don't let you run a haze machine but you want that effect. And so this becomes a way that you can get some of those bloomy highlights and it gives you a really kinda cool cinematic look to the lights and it glows without looking cheesy. It's really, really cool. Now, just to show you what this looks like compared to the haze machine. One the left hand side, this is the haze machine by itself, no Black Pro Mist. And you can see the beam, that's what the haze machine does is it gives you the beam as opposed to just being a glow. The lights bloom a little bit, the beam looks good, but when you add the Black Pro Mist to the haze, it makes it look even better and so I like the combination of the two. During the theater shoot I was using the Black Pro Mist in conjunction with the haze. And also the Black Pro Mist, just so you know, comes in a variety of different strengths. This shot here is the quarter, it's a quarter Black Pro Mist. It's quarter, half, and full. It gets real heavy, real quick, especially if you're combining it with an actual haze machine as opposed to just doing it by itself. So there's obviously a time and a place to use something like this or a heavier version of this. You're in a smoky night club, you're in an environment that's meant to feel you're fog, right, like that helps do it but if you're just in a room that just needs to appear a little bit atmospheric and a little bit moody, it works as an option either by itself or in conjunction with the haze in place. And so I really like, like this is kind of where the shot ended, like this is the culmination of all the stuff that we built prior and then adding in these few other small effects. Like adding in the haze, adding in the Black Pro Mist, and it really just takes what was already a pretty successful image and just really bumps it up to that extra cinematic kinda degree.