Essential and Advanced Filters for Creative and Outdoor Photography — E-book Review

A few months ago Dar­win Wiggett and Saman­tha Crysan­thou Pub­lished an e-book called Essen­tial and Advanced Fil­ters for Cre­ative and Out­door Pho­tog­ra­phy.  You may think that with dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy the need for fil­ters is over and you would be mis­taken in think­ing this.

Cer­tain fil­ters like the polar­iz­ing fil­ter are essen­tial and at the time of this writ­ing, the effect of this fil­ter (which stays on my lens 95% of the time that I shoot out­doors in the day) is best achieved with an actual fil­ter on the lens. Although I have seen digital-effect polar­iz­ing fil­ters that you apply when post-processing an image, they suck when com­pared to the real thing. Dar­win and Saman­tha pro­vide awe­somely clear images and expla­na­tions as to why this fil­ter is essen­tial, how and when to use it cre­atively and when not to use it. This fil­ter is so impor­tant that a good 20% of the book is devoted to it. This sec­tion alone is worth the 10 dol­lars that they are charg­ing for the e-book.

Two other kinds of essen­tial fil­ters that Dar­win and Saman­tha talk about a great deal are grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters and neu­tral den­sity fil­ters. The pur­pose of grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters is to reduce the con­trast in a scene (like a clipped sky) because when a scene is too con­trasty the cam­era can not record all the tones even though our eye may see them. The fil­ters are nor­mally made of glass or plas­tic and are usu­ally shaded at one end and clear at the other end. Neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are solid coloured and are mainly used to make shut­ter speeds longer to achieve cre­ative blur­ring effects. This sec­tion of the book also has awe­some (fil­tered and non-filtered for com­par­i­son) images and crys­tal clear expla­na­tions on how to use these filters.

The final sec­tion of the book is ded­i­cated to addi­tional fil­ters that can add pop to your images as well as talk­ing about tech­ni­cal con­sid­er­a­tions like colour casts and noise reduction.

This e-book is fab and well worth the ten dol­lars. The only thing I might debate in this book is call­ing the neu­tral grad fil­ters essen­tial. I feel they are essen­tial only in cer­tain very impor­tant  cases. They are essen­tial if you want to spend less time in front of your com­puter post-processing your images, because your images will already have the con­trast con­trol built into the expo­sure. If you are already excel­lent at the HDR tech­nique, (tak­ing mul­ti­ple frames of the iden­ti­cal image with dif­fer­ent expo­sures and then blend­ing them in soft­ware) then these fil­ters are not essen­tial because you can achieve a sim­i­lar goal using HDR. That said, even if you know the HDR tech­nique well, grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are still use­ful (per­haps even essen­tial) when the scene is con­trasty and involves movement.

It may come as no sur­prise that I highly rec­om­mend this 65 page e-book. Dar­win and Saman­tha are vet­eran pho­tog­ra­phers and teach­ers, write super-clearly and their pics really illus­trate the cre­ative effect these fil­ters have. This is an easy read with an easy on the eyes design. It’s a great e-book to have with you on your smart­phone or tablet for cre­ative inspi­ra­tion while in the field. It’s also a fab resource when you are think­ing about which of these fil­ters to buy.

This book can be pur­chased directly from Dar­win and Sam’s site. 


  1. I will have to check this out, thanks.

  2. Dawn says:

    I pur­chased this book about a cou­ple of weeks ago and I agree with Marko on its rec­om­men­da­tion. It is a very clear and easy read. The only thing you should know in advance is that some of these fil­ters are expensive.

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