06 July 2015

New filters and how they can help in bright light

I'm only an amateur photographer, I've taken a couple of classes and understand how to use my camera, but there are still tons of things to learn. Of course not all tombstones will be readable after 100+ years, but many can using the right  lighting and/or a flash. As I wrote about in A better way to photograph tombstones, using a flash really helps.

That said, because many cemeteries face east, on bright days it can be impossible to get good shots as the sun is either directly behind you or directly in front of you. Even with a flash the sun can make getting a good shot difficult. Because of my limited time I usually go in the mornings to shoot a lot of the cemeteries. A lot of the time I carry an umbrella with me to block the light either from behind or in front of me. Being by myself a lot makes this difficult, and I'm sure makes for an interesting sight to see.

I've tried a warming filter, which I liked as it blocked some of the sunlight, but didn't always work. I also tried a polarizing filter, which also sometimes worked, but not as well. I've since gotten a set of neutral density filters that I hope will help out. The filters block out some of the light, but not the colors as other filters do. This has helped out when it's a bright, clear sky.

This is Saint Mark's church in Wolfsville. I used an 8x filter and as you can see the sun is right there but I was able to get the photo.

The two photos below show the same stone, the one on the left was taken with a flash and no filter, the one on the right with a filter and flash. They are both readable, but the one that used the filter is a bit darker and in some cases helps make the stone more readable.

The next four photos are of the same stone with the flash, f-stop and shutter speed were not changed. The first photo, upper left, is with no filter. The photo below that is with a .3 ND filter, the upper right is with a .6 ND filter and the bottom right is with a .9 ND filter, and on the bottom is with a warming filter. Depending on the light the use of these filters can greatly enhance a stone's readability. (Sorry for the way the photos are arranged, the editor placed them this way.)