Camera Filters -
A Practical Application
For most trips when I travel, I at carry at least 3 filters which I find essential in photography and are near impossible to create the effect in post editing or any other method. They are a 6 stop and 10 stop ND (Neutral density) and a Polarizing filter. Each for a different purpose and situation ranging from photographing people, landscapes and cityscapes where motion or reflections can be utilised in the scenario. In most instances when using a filter, a tripod is required to ensure that the camera is still while shooting.
There might be times when the light changes quickly and I will change between filters. The key to capturing what you need is to have a look at the result as you shoot and be dynamic enough in making changes when out in the field.
6 Stop ND FIlter - 6 sec exposure at f22. Shot on Sony A7RIII with 16-35mm f.40 at 27mm
An ND filter is essentially a dark piece of glass that allows for a longer shutter speed exposure. This is useful whenever theres motion involved and we can capture motion blur of people, water or clouds for example. Essentially the higher the number of the ND filter (3, 6, 10 stops etc) the more light the filter blocks out.
The motion can leave a ghostly blur, water can be smoothed out to look tranquil and dreamlike, clouds can lose their edges and become a blanket. The “Neutral” refers to the colour not changing with the amount of light being captured.
6 Stop ND Filter - 4 sec exposure at f11. Shot on Sony A7RIII with 16-35mm f4.0 at 31mm
3. Don’t submit a cliche of a well known subject.
Competitions bring out some of the most creative images that show what is currently possible within the world of photography.
But to really separate yourself from the field, something unique needs to be presented.
It may be a rare weather occurrence or light that we only dream of. But every photo of the Sydney Opera House or Angkor Wat will be compared to all the other similar images, now and previously entered.
Although I get the opportunity to run workshops around the world, I’m aware that I need to find rare opportunities to make my images stand out. A thunderstorm in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan is one such example. A lightning strike in the desert is challenging to capture. But the right combination of being in the right place and time, experience, and luck brought me a shot that stood apart from other shots someone else may have achieved.
4. Find the right competition for your photography.
Competitions vary in quality. The quality of competition from a local camera club of a dozen people can be vastly different than an international contest of thousands of professionals who have honed their trade over several years.
If you think you are up to the challenge of bigger competitions, by all means put your name in the hat and show everyone what you are capable of with a camera!
It’s fascinating to see the innovation that comes from new camera equipment and creative techniques. High Dynamic Range (HDR) didn’t exist to most photographers 15 years ago. Nowadays astrophotography can be achieved with phone cameras thanks to the development of camera sensor technology that can see better in the dark than the human eye. There’s no telling what the future holds in terms of innovation and photography competitions.
5. Have fun with competitions.
Challenge yourself to improve and be open to criticism. Recognize that criticism is sometimes constructive, and sometimes not helpful at all. Be willing to pull out the factual points that can help you improve your photography in the long run. There are obvious rewards from these competitions, but also find in yourself the challenge of improvement and defining your style. These points alone should be good enough reason to try your hand at some photography contests.