Note: The filters we are referring to are the traditional filters that screw onto the front of a lens, drop-in, or slide in as gels (not the Photoshopped kind).

Filters 103
by: Andy McCarrick
(reference: filters 101, filters 102)

  • Cross-screen VariationsAs mentioned in Filters 102, Cross-screen filters play off light sources and bright reflections. Most common are the starburst filters with varying star-points, usually anywhere from 4-8 points. These filters usually come fixed with the lines intersecting in a uniform fashion. One variation is a cross screen filter with 2 independent, rotating layers. This allows the user to play with the angles at which the lines intersect. Another way to achieve this effect and to push your filters further, would be to combine the use of cross-screen filters, creating new and unique patterns.

  • Multi-image filters - These unique filters create an on-the-spot effect that looks like they have passed through photo-imaging software. They are made of thick glass that is flat on one side and angled on the opposite side, creating an almost kaleidoscope effect. Each angled surface is referred to as a “face”, and the most common types are 3 and 5 face filters. A cool twist on these filters is a multi-color, multi-image filter, where each face is a different color. Using these filters together can also endlessly multiply an image.

  • Color grad filters – A color grad filter offers a half clear, half color effect. There is no defining line where the color ends, but the color slowly dissolves towards the center of the filter. This allows the photographer to include more subjects that cross the horizon of the photograph, without having the effect take away from the composition. These filters are commonly used to create dramatic sunsets. Used above: grad orange, shot horizontally.

  • Split color filters – These filters are half clear, and half color, with the division going straight through the center of the filter in a defined line. These filters can be used to change the color of the sky, or of water. They are most effective in photographs where some sort of horizon can be achieved and played upon. Used one at a time they can be used to make subtle changes in the atmosphere, or they can be combined to create quite unique images. If not used properly, the result can be anything but subtle however. Used above: Purple split, shown vertically for example purposes.

  • Center Spot (not shown) - Using several different techniques, a center spot filter keeps sharp focus in the center of the photograph, while enriching the areas surrounding it. Most commonly, a generic center-spot filter will have a soft-focus effect on the outlying areas. A unique variation is a radial filter, which creates the effect of zooming-in on the subject. Also, a Rainbow-spot filter, which diffracts the light around the center-spot, creating bright rainbows out of the images in the surrounding areas.