Lenses and Filters for Outdoor Photography
one of the earlier lessons we talked about gear and all of the technical attributes of those things lenses what I like to pack in my bag, generally speaking, as well as all of the different filters and why I bring those filters. However, the actual practical application of those lenses and filters is entirely different, because planning at home we're planning in your studio is very different than being outdoors or the conditions of constantly changing lights changing. And you don't know ever what you're really gonna find until you're there and you start to bring all of those elements together. Right now we're on a trail with a incredible wild flower bloom that's happening. And on one of the earlier scouts, these wildflowers were not here. Come back, there's less snow you've got. All of these different colors is very lush, it's green, and today is a really great day because we have changing conditions, but really good conditions. A lot of clouds passing through, nice light shining aroun...
d, and in general it's an ideal situation. However, the light is changing quite a bit, and so I'm going to need to really manage that on the way to manage that is with my lenses and my filters. All of those things are about controlling light and controlling the situation so that you can capture a scene the way you envision it in your mind's eye in your mind's eye is the creative force behind your images. How do you see these things coming together and what I come up this trail? I'm thinking about what the composition is going to be, and I'm looking at what my challenges are. So lenses and filters air really about addressing very specific challenges. How are you going to get the elements creative elements that you want into your scene in a way that's gonna make them fund, make them come alive and capture all of those things that make people say, Wow when you get home and you edit all your photos together? So how do you figure that out? You have to start to take it in and look around, and it really is about taking almost scouting into another level. So you have things like the wild flowers and the rocks and snow fields and mountains in the background. The clouds. OK, so let me identify the challenges before even begin to start to think about what gear do I want to start looking at? What do I have in the bag here that's gonna help address those? So the first challenge that I see is OK, we've got passing rain in green leaves. If it comes down a little harder, then these are gonna start to get wet to start to get shiny. And I don't really want that shine creatively. I want to try and take that shine off. So I know that I might want to use a polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are great for bringing up green and the shines in different greens and muting them so you can get more of a richness of color also works really well on days like today, where you've got spotty clouds and blue skies and a lot of mosquitoes. And now I'm just kidding about mosquitoes. But when you have blue skies and clouds and things like that, it really helps Bolden, the blue give you that polarized look like when you're wearing your sunglasses or something like that. Um, the other thing I want to start to think about is all of the different options that I have one thing about wild flowers and the green and the leaves and things like that. Do I want to just be wide and have a polarizer and capture all of that? Or do I want to maybe throw on a macro lens? What does the macro get me? That my wide angle doesn't get me? What about a telephoto? Do I want to get far back and compress the scene? So all of these things started to come into play in All of them are going to become extremely relevant to creating the shot and creating a body of work because I don't want to edit in the field. I'm here to capture as many different options as possible so that when I get back to home back to the studio, I can then start to make the decisions on what worked and what didn't. Right now I'm gonna use my lenses and my filters to capture the best file possible. It's a theme that's always going through. Whether you're composing, setting your aperture, your shutter speed, your filters or lenses. That theme is always gonna resonate. What's the best file possible that I can work from when I get back in studio. So let's take a look at what's in the bag. What I brought with me, I tend to be pretty pared down. I don't bring a kind of things after all, we've got to get it all the way up the mountain and all the way back. And ah, it's about striking that balance of weight versus victory of the necessary tools. So after all these years, I've pretty much refined it down to exactly what I need and ah, provide. I don't forget something. I generally have all of the tools necessary to go and capture the scene the way I want. So normally I would start on a trail, uh, with a wide angle lens. I like to generally approach stills and motion from the widest shot, establishing shot all the way down into your tighter shots and your macro shots. And that's what I would end on. Unless, of course, you don't have a wide composition or you don't have a telephoto composition that I might start there. But in this case, we're in pretty epic conditions. Wildflower fields. We've got a little bit of everything. Wide angle, telephoto macro, extreme macro everything, So this is pretty much running the whole range of tools. So let's start with my 16 to 35 F four. It's me image stabilized lens. It will be a good one to start thinking about landscape photos and filter that I'll start out with. This is the polarizing filter. We didn't get a ton of rain, so it's not really necessary for the rain. And I think it'll really still help with the greens and the contrast and making sure that the sky and all the other elements really come together. So my polarizing filters a circular polarizer. It is a 77 millimeter, just the same diameter of all of my lenses. Actually, they used to be not, with the exception of my 50 which is Ah, very small diameter. But the 77 is pretty standard. Sometimes they're depending the best way to check and find out about what kind of diameter you need for yours, uh, is to look on the inside of the of the lends. It will tell you the millimeter diameter. You see a 77 82 or whatever manufacturer or lens that you have that they've chosen but there's generally standard sizes. Circular polarizer is an interesting one, and one thing you want to note before putting it on is take a look at your lens and see how dirty it is, because once the polarizer is on, whatever's in there is gonna be trapped in there and you don't want to have a bunch of stuff. Realize that you've screwed this thing on. You set up all your filters. You set up your composition than you've got some something stuck right in the middle of it. Do you want to make sure that's pretty clear? Take a look. If you need Teoh, get a lens rag and you'll notice that I actually have tape on the areas where there's writing on the inside of my lens and that is actually covering up the the lens diameter, and that that tape in here is because I often shoot underwater as well. What happens underwater is it reflects off the inside of the dome and you'll see words or numbers or letters actually reflecting back into your picture and in your frame if the light catches it the right way. So a little black tape goes a long way and actually masking that in making sure that you don't have those those noticeable artifacts in your image. So with a clean lens on, they'll take a look at the filter itself. Make sure that's clean, which it is because I just took it out of the case. I would try to clean everything before I put it back in. Well, screw it on, uh, pro tip here. Don't screw it on super tight. You won't just get it, so it's snogging doesn't move. This outer ring should still move. Ah, and that's for something. I'll tell you about a minute you want. Make sure it's not too tight. I've had plenty of times that they've gotten on too tight. It gets stuck or lodged on their, especially if there's dirt or something inside the actual grooves. And you'll end up having to ruin the filter, even potentially the lens when you try to get off a pliers or some other method, so never too tight just tight enough so it's not falling off and it's snug, and then that way you can rotate. So a circular polarizer you'll notice I'm rotating it as I look through the camera he doesn't have the same level of polarization equally around it. Certain areas are more dense in polarization than other areas, and so you might want to look through and figure out where do I want that polarized effect ago? And this works really well with water. And that's something that I'll go into more detail with capturing motion and how to slow things down. And that's the other thing about a polarizing filters that will slow things down. You'll lose probably at least a full stop, depending on the polarizer or brand on a full stop, meaning your aperture shutter speed will be adjusted because you're letting less light actually pass through. Um, but I'm rotating it to figure out where I want that polarize spot to be. And when I looked through, I noticed. Okay, right now, it's kind of in the top left. That's perfect, cause in the composition, the top left part of the sky is blue, and it now gets a deeper blue, helps the clouds pop a little bit more. And in general it's like looking through a really great pair, polarized sunglasses. So looks really nice. Looks good. If I wanted the polarization to be on the green. I think in Rotated Around and I could see that it's more on the green and if you so it's interesting light because it's coming in and out and this gets really bright, and then that gets really dark. So patients is gonna be really key and making this work for me. But this is the first step I would use for this, especially on a wide angle. I do use polarizer on telephoto lenses as well, all for the same reasons that really is all about composition and figuring out what you're trying to do. Are you trying to get glare off of water just like you would with polarised sunglasses? Anybody who likes to fish, you know you wouldn't. You wear those glasses and you can see the fish better. Same idea. With your photograph, you can see the rocks, the colors, the fish, whatever it is. It's below the surface, depending on where you are. Same thing with your leaves on the trees and the same thing with the blue in the sky. So that's the polarizer. The polarizer itself has yet another ring on the inside for you to screw something in. So if you wanted to screw in another ah filter ring. So this is the ring. Also 77 millimeter, same as the filter. Same is the lens, and then that can slide on here. Unfortunately, the only way to really do this put a big thumbprint right in the middle of you. Might as well just admit that that's gonna happen. And then you can go and screw this in two. Be polarizing filter, and I hear some crunches in their means. It's not that clean but clean enough. Okay, so now that's tight. So that's on. Got a big thumb print Marlins cloth. Make sure it's clean and with the bright sun could use ah lens cleaner as well. But the bright sun is pretty easy to tell when it's clean or not. And as I was about to say, the challenges with stacking your filters and doing all this is each time you do it, you're letting in. Less light euro could potentially reduce the quality of the images. You really only want to do this if you truly want to control the amount of brightness and control the scene, so the one thing that's tricky when using both of polarizer and a neutral density filters set up is the neutral density doesn't work the same as a polarizer, so you have to figure out where you want your composition to be. Get it positioned. Line up your polarizer. Get that position on the sky, then bring on the actual neutral density filter to snap on. And then, at that point, you can put in the neutral density to reduce your skies, just like putting a polarizing filter onto the front of your lens and making sure the lenses clean before you put the next layer on to make sure the polarizes queen and then you go to put on the neutral density filters. Neutral density filters are something you want to use sparingly because you don't want them to be obvious. But they definitely make a world of difference in your compositions. And it's about controlling light in the field. And I always say that you conduce a lot of this stuff digitally. There's a lot of different ways to do it. This is the way I choose to do it. I like working in the field and capturing as much of the information in the best file possible in the field, and that's why I use these. You'll notice that the neutral density filter is exactly that neutrally, dense and neutral, colored and dense, it blocks the amount of light coming in. It is unlike a polarizer in that it doesn't alter the look of the leaves. It doesn't polarize. It doesn't add blue to the sky. It simply reduces the amount of light coming in in and uneven way. So if I choose to put it over half of the sky, that half of the sky will be a little bit darker, something like mountains and peaks where they're kind of jutting up. You don't have an even clean line, which is more or less the case and almost all compositions. You can overlap a little bit, and there's different kinds of overlaps. There's, Ah, hard edge. There's a soft, soft edge, which is even more gradual and an nd When I say Andy, it's neutral density and then you'll hear usually an ND grad, and that means gradual. And then there's different kinds, soft and hard. They come in different variations, and I go into all of us in the gear lesson but I tend to pick ones that are a little more restrained and not over the top. I don't want over dark in the sky. I don't want somebody look at my picture and go he used in Indy. I want to look, have him look at it and say it looks natural. I also don't want somebody look at and say It looks like HDR. That's not something that I I want. I don't want people to ever look at an image and say This is the technical approach that he used. I want them to look at the image and have what I'm trying to set out in the composition he conveyed to the image, whether that's all of the different themes or other goals and I'm trying to achieve and all that is talked about in the composition lessons. The neutral density filter is different from the polarised filter in that they have very different effects and they can be used together or they can be used separately. A lot of times only use the polarizing filter many of the times I would say more often than not Ah, I would use the neutral density filter and especially with landscape photos I won't very often use, if ever use a neutral density filter for macro photography. Um, the only reason I might want to use this rather than using the grad is I would actually drop the filter all the way down over the front of the whole lens to reduce the amount of light passing through on an equal level not just in the sky but coming through the entire image. And that's so that I can cut in the amount of light coming in so they can get a very shallow depth of field. So the scene is very, very bright and way too much light coming in. And I want to be a F 28 which allows them out most amount of light to come in. Then I need to cut that lights somehow, and I don't want to do it by adjusting my half stop so a filter will help me make that adjustment without having to make that, uh, a sacrifice to create a vision of what I'm trying to achieve with that shot. One thing I want to say about places like this, whether you're in Rainier, North Cascades or wherever you are. You gonna be mindful of stepping on the vegetation, especially wildflowers. Um, I'm gonna try and find a spot where I can set up, pay attention with tripod legs. You're going pay attention where my legs are going, and that way we can still get the shot. We're making sure that it's great for the next person and I'm gonna opt to go with a 0.9 filter. It's actually much heavier. It's a hard edge. Let's start there and then work my way back. It is a little heavier, but with the amount of brightness and contrast and things that are happening in the cloud because it is middle of the day. I think I want a little bit more control in the shot. So get set up when you use the tripod for this. And as I get set up and start to build the shot, I'll talk you through it. I'm gonna bring all the elements together polarizer, neutral, density filter in this composition, starting with my wide angle lens, and I will talk my way through it so that you understand what I'm doing as I'm doing it. So again, being mindful of the flowers I'm gonna try, and immediately. I see this is a vertical. So going to get my tripod set up? Make sure I got a good spot. It's kind of a good starting position and have a rough idea. Compositionally what I want to get and you notice I don't have the neutral density filter on there yet. I only have the polarizing filter from the lock down. Give my settings a quick review. So using a tripod, But we have a little win, so I don't want a really slow shutter speed. So I'm gonna bring my I s 0 to 400 which is actually where it waas. And I'm not gonna worry too much. I'm gonna be an aperture priority mode. Another worry too much about that just yet. Because the first thing I would do is use my filters and build the composition around those. So let me get that composition set up. So once it's vertical, see this little destabilized. So I'm gonna stabilize that a little bit more, move the camera war into a better into a better position, and then I mean, just look through. And now right now, I'm really just looking through to see what I'm getting, how it looks. And I kind of got some branches that are right in the way. So you know, butts around just a little bit more to kind of mountains and get in kind of sky and getting all right. So I'm still a little top heavy. So just that and so it's just a little. It's a little bit of, ah, work in progress. Uh, just kind of constantly moving things around, adjusting of until you have that right balance and, you know, real low to the ground. I like to try and shoot evenly across that. My subjects I don't like to shoot straight down. Well, actually, straight down itself might work for macro, but not straight down so much in a landscape like on an angle like this. For on an angle. It's necessarily like this. A lot of my landscapes will be on more of a straight on sort of perspective, so let's see what I get. Looks pretty decent. Got a lot of cloud cover right now, and it's really, really bright in the sky. So the first thing to do I took the filter holder off and I'm gonna just my polarizer and get that into place because that's got to get moved first going to block my eye from the sun's I can see through. And I don't do this on live you because to our dizzy what they like And you know, I'll talk more about this in composition. But I don't even trust the back of my screen ever for anything. Are you to look through it or I use my history am, but we'll talk more about that in the composition class. So now I've got my polarizer and position I like What's that? It's working for me with the greens and the changing light and sun. So now I'm gonna snap this filter holder on. But the idea that I'm not gonna just the polarizer already selected benign nd filter a heavier one might be too happy. We're gonna give it a shot, take a look, see how much it's in there. I want to be gradual and noticed that wherever you put the filter holder on, that's got to be the angle that the filter is gonna be so finding to adjust this I don't I can probably get a little bit of give in turn. But no more than that. If I have to do a big adjustment, then I've got to take the holder off, just the polarizer back and put the filter holder back on in a position that it needs to be. So it's kind of annoying. Um, but it is What it is. Look through is now looking through, and I'm moving the filter down, you know, just cresting the horizon just a little bit with the edge of the actual dense part dark part of the filter. I don't want it to have a gap in there, so they have a bright white line. Make sure I'm covering all of the brightness. I don't mind if a couple of the peaks are getting a little too dark and photo shop. Aiken. Lighten those up just a little bit and help blend. That's it. Looks a little more natural. The key is natural. So the other thing I'm gonna really pay attention to is how clean these are, because if I'm shooting a landscape and I've got a lot of depth of field, well, every little piece of dust, which could be fixed later but can be very time consuming, laborious process of a tedious process. I would make sure it's as clean as possible. Save myself time later, keep it clean. And the other thing want to make sure is if I don't want the sun, what's coming down on an angle? I could put my hand here and get a little shade on the filter, so I'm not getting any glare or anything else across it. So figure out where that spot's gonna be. Sometimes the filter holder themselves work better for that so that I can take a picture. Looking at my settings turned the manual focus and focus in here that 1/3 of the way through the frame covered up. Don't even need a look through it. Shoot a frame. Take a look at my reference file on the back, and the first thing I see is that my sky is just way too dark. So the nine was too hard. And even though you don't want to use the screen to make critical decisions, if something is just obviously out of whack, that's what it's for. It's a reference I'm gonna switch from the nine and using a hard edge because I feel like this is a little bit more of an even line. I tend to use the softer edges when it's much more gradual. Sort of blend that I wanna have maybe, like a lake or water ocean places like that. So now I'm going to go all the way down to the other end of the spectrum, uh, and go down to a 0.3. It's very light. I didn't need a lot because I've already got the polarizer working its magic on the blues. The nine was way too hard, and with all of those stops of light being pulled back, I want to go to the lightest filter possible, which is a 90.3 or first I sculpt three. Taking in the frame. Look at my reference file and there it is. It's spot on the skies balanced. None of my highlights are blown out. My middle foreground has all of the detail. Richeson. If it's getting lost and all of my flowers and elements look great. So now I'm just gonna wait for a second. I want this to be in the shade, so it's not so midday. Let more come to contrast. E even though the polarizer is helping manage that. I want to get some shade in here, see if the light goes out into the middle and really just waited out. But now I've got a good set up. Two filters, horizontal shot. I'll just fire until the frame is perfect. The other two lenses I brought today are my macro 50 millimeter, which is an exceptionally cheap lens, one of those common lenses in the world 50 millimeters as well as to extension tubes. And that's all for Macro set up about to talk about with these wildflowers and a telephoto lens. All of these can be used for macro. I often use my telephoto to get close to subjects, especially if I want to go wandering around in the field and you want to bring something closer to you. Uh, I'm gonna start with the 50 mil set up extension tubes essentially empty. There's no glass elements in them. They just block out all of the light and connect the 50 mil further from the sensor. This allows you to close the amount of focal distance to the lens so I can get extremely extremely close to the 50 mil macro already allows me to yet a 1 to 1 or life size shot of whatever it isn't going to get in focus. And these extension tubes augment that even more so I could get larger than life size and get an insect walking on a single petal or something very, very small and show the world in different way. So Macro hope to get up close. It's fun, and it is something you can do. Handheld could be actually quite a challenge to do it on a tripod, Um, that these air definitely lenses that are great to bring with you on a wild flower hike or anywhere where a very small focus or small focal area would be useful. Frogs and small animals like that could be great, depending on where you are. Ah, bugs and insects could be gray, especially Beatles. If that really colorful. Um, these are the lenses and setups that I would often use. You don't need the extension tubes. You can use one you can use to. You can use none. The 50 mil, just by itself works great. So, you know, work the scene when thinking about macro, you really want to make sure you think about the background and how that stuff's gonna work the back your screen is gonna be really great reference. The largest challenge is going to be focused, keeping things in focus. Often I'll just pick a focal length or a focus spot, and then I'll just move the camera for Focus in and out rather than actually trying to focus the ring because it's such a narrow area and you're gonna want your eyes so little higher. I went upto I so 800 we have more control to use a larger depth of field. So I'm not stuck. It f 56 right now, which is with this plans with extension tubes equals I can get up to F 11 handheld, and I have to worry about a tripod because handheld is really what you want to be for a scene like this so may work in. You'll see how close I can actually get to these things to be in focus. You see how close it is. It was kind of amazing. It allows you to get really arty, and you want to fire a lot, my friends, because you really don't know which was gonna be sharpen 56 is kind of crazy. You really want to goto does it? Focus is coming in and out so quick that it's nearly impossible. Figure it out. And so a lot of these when taking a quick look you could see are blurry or out of focus. So that's not really gonna work. So what I'm gonna do to get a little bit more light back when I take one of the extension tubes off, put it back in my bag and I'll try again. And this time I'm going. Teoh lower. My, uh, stopped down to nine went a little bit more light in, and then I'm actually under exposing just a touch because there is enough light and I think I can get that little boost in photo shop without really having any sort of lack of quality or degradation of quality of the image compositionally to. I was just way too close before And think attention, my background. I really love this green background you see Now I don't have to get nearly as close. Gives me a lot more options. It's a little bit like being the sniper you might want to hold your breath. How many frames and shooting? Because I only need one good one. I never know which one that's gonna be, and that's looking pretty good. So you can actually start to see. OK, this is a little out of focus, but you could really play around the creativity. Now try a horizontal and I will try some other background. So I see some purple flowers right behind the red and Elst. Work it on and on and on and build a little repertoire shots. Essentially the telephoto lens, which is my 72 200. The white lens works the same way I can use extension tubes and maybe even use a tripod. In that case, because you had a longer lens, a little more stability. There's not a lot of wind that might work, and you essentially get the same effect. Just allows you to get close to your subject while you're farther away.