Neutral Density Filters

There was a time when the film was not too sensitive to light and manufacturers were trying their best to boost up the sensitivity. These low sensitivity films required long exposure times and huge amount of light. No wonder that the old portraits had all serious looking people. Imagine being made to stand for many minutes in one pose and sometimes under bright uncomfortable lights! With the advancement of film sensitivity rose another requirement. There were times when the overall light entry had to be reduced without increasing the shutter speed or constricting the aperture too much. This is when the dark filters stepped in.

Waterfalls CloseUp

(Waterfalls – Nikon D200 with Nikkor 50mm, 1/4 sec with ND filter)

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Batteries come in all shapes and sizes and work on different principles of chemistry. The common batteries used in cameras and speedlights are AA in size though the smaller version called AAA is also becoming quite popular. I will restrict my discussion on these batteries since this is where we are faced with choices. The odd shaped batteries that come in DSLRs and some other cameras are made as per camera specifications and we really don’t have much choice there. I do not recommend using cheap third party batteries after having invested a huge amount in your camera.

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Flash Modes

One of the first flashes that I owned was a Vivitar 283 flash. It was a manual flash with an ‘Auto-thyristor’. I could set the flash intensity manually or automatically based on aperture and subject distance. I learnt about guide-numbers, filter factors and a lot of interesting stuff while using it. I do miss the good old days.

Now I have speedlights that have complicated menus and functions which I set and forget. Some of them I don’t even use. My favorite speedlight now is Nikon SB600 for reasons of my own. I also have some camera bodies which have built in flash. (I use the words ‘flash’ or ‘speedlight’ to indicate the strobes found in the camera as well as sold separately). In this article I will try to give a basic explanation of various flash modes available on the camera (directly or through the menu) as well as some of the modes or features available on speedlights. I am leaving out the usage guidelines of manual modes since most manual flashes from yesteryear can cause harm to the present-day electronics.

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Camouflage or the art of blending into the surroundings is commonly used by soldiers. Photographers too have adopted this. Now I see camouflage costumes, covers for tripods and lenses, backpacks and camera-bags, tents, water-bottles, flash-lights and what not.

Why soldiers use camouflage? Our eyes see colors in the day-light and our subconscious ignores anything that does not stand out. Person covered in green and yellow camouflaged costume is therefore difficult to notice in a forest compared to another person dressed in red. The one in red will stand out (to some extent due to the effects of color theory too on our minds). The soldiers in their camo-dresses, can therefore remain hidden from other soldiers.

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Red Filters (and other colors)

The other day I wrote about Black and White photography (Black & White) and the very next day, I got an email about the red filters. It seems that they are some of the least understood filters now a days. Instagram users apply the red filter at times to improve their selfies (a term which I fail to understand). I am talking here of the true red glass that fits over the lens. They are also denoted by the Wratten numbers from 23A to 29.

What are these red filter and how are they used? First let me clarify a few things. Instead of calling them red filter, they should ideally be called blue/green-inhibiting or blue/green-subtraction filter. That is exactly what they do.

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Cleaning Camera Accessories

I had written a small articles about cleaning camera and lens – Cleaning Camera and Lens  Due to requests from some of my readers, I am also writing about cleaning accessories. Cameras accessories are also meant to be used and so some signs of use are expected. I ignore them. I am actually scared of new accessories. Old ones have become my friends and they keep helping me out. Measure I take to ensure that these friends of mine stay fit :

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Polarizing Filters

Polarizing Filters or simply Polarizers were second most used filters in the film era, first being the UV filters. Polarizers work on the principle of letting only one plane of light waves to pass through. Remaining planes of light waves are blocked. Earlier polarizers had a single polarizing layer. Then came the autofocus cameras. There were times when the angle of polarized light being let into the lens would not coincide with the autofocus sensors and autofocus used to fail. Circular polarizers were introduced. These had another plate after the polarizing layer to rotate the light. This reduced the problems with the auto-focus systems. Due to their construction method, the circular polarizers show the polarizing effect only when seen from ‘thread side’. When seen from the ‘groove side’ polarizing effect is not seen, instead just a color shift is visible.


(Polarizers in different sizes and thicknesses)

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