Back to One #91, a Special Episode: Rehearsal

On this special episode, I spend a few days with the cast of A City Of Refuge as they rehearse this powerful new play by Evan Cuyler-Louison for Primitive Grace Theater Ensemble in New York City. Having had no experience with theatrical rehearsal, I pose lots of questions to Louison (who also directed the production) and his incredible actors, Ylfa Edelstein, Wilton Guzman, Miah Kane, Hailey Marmolejo, Gregg Prosser, and Luke Edward Smith. If, like me, your experience is limited to film production or you just have gaps in your knowledge regarding rehearsal in general, or you’re just curious about […]

Nikon Gets Closer to a Z Mount Trinity by Announcing the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon Gets Closer to a Z Mount Trinity by Announcing the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon has announced the launch of the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S for its full-frame mirrorless cameras, filling one of the two gaping holes in its lens lineup for professional shooters.

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New Tilta Camera Cages for Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, & Canon

Tilta has added a number of new variations of the Tiltaing camera cages and now they have options for the Canon 5D/7D series, Fuji XT-3, Panasonic S series & Sony A6 series of cameras. This now opens up the Tiltaing line of rigging, battery and power accessories to the other cameras. Erik has previously reviewed … Continued

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New Tiltaing Camera Cages

Tilta has added a number of new variations of the Tiltaing camera cages and now have options for the Canon 5D/7D series, Fuji XT-3, Panasonic S series & Sony A6 series of cameras. This now opens up the Tiltaing line of rigging, battery and power accessories to the other cameras. Erik has previously reviewed the … Continued

The post New Tiltaing Camera Cages appeared first on Newsshooter.

5 Lighting Patterns You Should Know as a Filmmaker

Want an easy way to add depth and drama to your scenes? You’d better master these lighting patterns!

And you can do so in less than ten minutes because Southern California photographer Pye Jirsa has teamed up with Adorama to discuss the main five lighting patterns in a new video.

Although this primer is photography-based and utilizes studio lighting, it provides some good basics that can be applied to film sets and can be used with natural lighting as well.

Watch the video for more!

1. Flat lighting

Flat light is a source that comes from the same position as the camera. Think the on-camera flash, or the light coming through a window behind the camera.

Flat lighting is going to have the fewest shadows. Because of this, it’s a soft and flattering light source often used in beauty photography.

2. Butterfly lighting

Light flat lighting, this light source is coming from directly in front of the subject, but is now raised above the subject and angled down.

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Living Life As A Paid Screenwriter For Three Months

SoCreate launched a contest to pay someone to write their script. Zachary Rowell won. Hear how it changed his life!

Ever wonder what it’s like to win a screenwriting contest? Would it be life-changing? Wallet-changing?

We advertised SoCreate’s screenplay contest and thousands of people entered for free. Now we got a chance to hear from the winner about how having his bills paid for three months allowed him to finish a spec and what he plans on doing next.

Check out what Zach had to say below!

Living Life As A Paid Screenwriter For Three Months – Zachary Rowell in his own words…

As kids, we all have dreams. You were going to be an astronaut, your best friend was going to be a basketball player, and the weird neighbor kid was going to be a live mannequin. When you’re a kid, everything seems possible.

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The Micro Film Tournament is for Big Movies with Small Budgets

This March Madness bracket-style film competition celebrates filmmakers who have “made the most with the least.” Submit Your New or Old Film Now on FilmFreeway.

Dear Micro-Budget Filmmaker,

Like many of you, I know what it’s like to make a dollar out of fifteen cents and also know how it feels to be overlooked due in part to a lack of resources. We all know there are so many great films made for so very little, and not nearly enough recognition of these highly creative and passionate endeavors. They end up getting lost on hard drives or Amazon and iTunes.

I’ve produced, written, and directed three micro-budget features over the past ten years and like many, have experienced ever-changing distribution and exhibition realities. Streamers currently dominate. Foreign and home video sales have dissolved. Although incredible advancements in digital tech now allow many to execute their visions more easily and obtain production value at lower cost, this lower bar to entry has led to significant saturation of the market.

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Photographer Documents Venice’s Worst Floods in More Than 50 Years

Photographer Documents Venice's Worst Floods in More Than 50 Years

A photographer has captured the Italian city of Venice during its worst flooding for over 50 years. The images show streets, churches, and homes awash with feet of water, in floods so bad the government declared a state of emergency.

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This Guy Used Free Software to De-Age ‘The Irishman’ and…It Looks Great

The Irishman cost almost $200 million. This guy redid it in his basement for free. Check it out.

You heard the buzz, You saw the movie. And like many, you were probably somewhat impressed by the de-aging process like I was. But then, some guy in a basement with free software saw the movie and said: “I can do that.”

He was right.

Check out the video from iFake below.

According to its creator, it took 7 days to make the footage in the video. Sometimes, the results turned out even better with DeepFaceLab.

That’s kind of wild.

It also terrifies me about what Deep Fakes hold for the future.

But let’s worry about that on another day.

What’s next? What is ADR and why is it important?

Professional movies have insane budgets, so they better have the best sound. But how can you achieve the same standards for much less? The secret is ADR in film.

Click to learn.

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Travel Photographer Explains the Use of Layers in Composition

Travel Photographer Explains the Use of Layers in Composition

There are many ways to approach composition in photography and filmmaking. One of the most powerful ways to add storytelling into your images is to compose using layers. In this video, travel photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich discusses the concept while taking us through several examples from his own work.

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Kopin Corporation at CES 2020: the largest color micro OLED in the world

 

The world’s first 1.3″ 2.6K OLED display, with a resolution of 2560 x 2560 is on preview at CES 2020, courtesy of Kopin, and its announcement paves the way for next-generation AR, VR, and XR applications.

Developed to use the power of the the fifth generation (5G) mobile communications system, which will allow a number of new services using VR glasses to be offered, as we noted in our previous article about the VR eyeglasses announced at CES 2020 by Panasonic, the new VR solution, still presented as a reference product, is based on a 2.6k display that is the result of cooperation between Panasonic, Kopin Corporation and Lakeside Optoelectronic Technology Co., Ltd..

Although a series of new VR and AR solutions were on show at this CES 2020, from the Pimax Artisan for VR to nReal Light or Samsung’s AR glasses, the offer from Panasonic’s fits in a different category, because it’s a VR system looking as the AR solutions easily available. This is due, no doubt, to the type of display used, which allowed the design presented by Panasonic during its conference at CES 2020. For a similar solution, check the Huawei VR Glass, an IMAX certified headset for video and games, which we mentioned before here at PVC.

To better understand what makes the world’s first HDR capable UHD VR eyeglasses so special, one has to see what Kopin Corporation is showing during CES 2020. The company, a leading developer of transmissive and reflective active matrix liquid crystal and organic light emitting diode (OLED) microdisplays, demonstrates at the Las Vegas event the latest advances in its Lightning OLED microdisplay line-up. The demonstration include Kopin’s new double-stack OLED technology for much higher brightness and longer lifetime, 2k and 720p displays, and a preview of the new 1.3” 2.6k x 2.6k display (2560 x 2560 resolution) for next-generation AR, VR, and XR applications.

The UHD display developed with Panasonic

The 1.3” 2.6k x 2.6k display (2560 x 2560 resolution) is the most exciting of the products on show, because it is the one develop with Panasonic, a clear indication that this is the display that will be used in the reference product unveiled by the company.  Featuring a Double-Stack OLED structure, it offers a resolution of 2560 x 2560 in a 1.3” diagonal size, making it the largest color micro OLED in the world, along with offering the highest resolution.

According to the information provided by Kopin, the display also integrates a high-speed CPHY/DPHY MIPI interface and has 10-bit color control for high dynamic range (HDR) control. With a double-stack OLED structure, the 2.6k full-color display exhibits brightness higher than 1000 nits, contrast ratio of more than 10,000: 1 and high color fidelity (NTSC 70%). Kopin also has two other displays on show:

2K Color Display with Double-Stack OLED Structure: With a resolution of 2048 x 2048 in a 0.99” diagonal size and adopting a double-stack OLED structure, the 2k display exhibits brightness higher than 1000 nits, contrast ratio of more than 10,000: 1 and high color fidelity (NTSC 70%). Able to operate up to 120 Hz with low power consumption,  which was, as the other features firsts for the VR industry, the display received a 2017 CES Innovation Award.

High-Brightness Green 720p Display with Double-Stack OLED Structure: 720p OLED microdisplay with a 1280 x 720 resolution in a 0.49-inch diagonal size exhibits ultra-high brightness at more than 20,000 nits with very low OLED power consumption of only 130 mW.

Kopin at CES 2020: the largest color micro OLED in the world

VR solutions for the real-world consumer

Kopin’s new technical advances include its patent-pending silicon backplane technology which enables the creation of double-stack OLED structures for microdisplays. A double-stack OLED is two OLED structures connected in series so that carriers (electrons-holes) pass through the double-stack OLED and generate photons twice, instead of once in a conventional single-stack OELD structure. This results in much higher efficiency, higher brightness, lower power consumption and longer lifetime. Combined with patented backplane design architecture for lower power consumption and faster frame rate, Kopin’s Lightning Silicon wafers enable OLED microdisplays to meet the needs of real-world consumer and enterprise applications.

“To date the applications for OLED microdisplays have been limited by the performance and the supply constraints, but we believe Kopin’s Lightning backplane technology and the emergence of high-volume OLED manufacturing facilities is going to greatly expand the applications for OLED microdisplays,” said Dr. John C.C. Fan, CEO of Kopin. “The double-stack OLED microdisplays have exhibited far superior performance already and we believe they will improve further as the technology matures. Our patent-pending backplane wafer technology is critical for us to create the double-stack structure necessary for high performance. We believe the partitioning of the OLED manufacturing into multiple parties, each focusing on their core competencies, will make a huge difference in the OLED microdisplay performance and supply chain.”

Panasonic at CES 2020: the world's first HDR capable UHD VR eyeglassesThe ultimate immersive experience

“For wearable applications, especially for AR, super high brightness (up to 5000 nits) color OLED microdisplays have been the “dream” displays. This is many times brighter than current micro OLED displays. To achieve this high brightness, we believe one must transition from a single stack to a double stack OLED structure. The double stack structure should provide up to approximately 2500 nits with some additional optimization, and by combining it with micro lens technology, we expect to reach the target brightness of 5000 nits in the not too distant future,” said Dr. Boryeu Tsaur, Kopin’s OLED product head.

The introduction of this type of display will not only allow to change the design of VR headsets, which may well look like the VR eyeglasses unveiled by Panasonic, but will also help to push AR solutions forward, as they open new horizons in terms of what is possible. While there are many questions that have no answer yet, from price to how the whole system will work, Panasonic seems to know the end goal for the devices, if and when they reach the market.  One just has to read the words from the company:

“The ultimate immersive experience while gaming or in your personal theater with ultra-high quality visual and audio on these small, lightweight VR Glasses with stylish design featuring Panasonic’s HDR image processing and optical technology.”

Apple Shows Off iPhone 11 Pro Camera in Cool New ‘Experiments’ Video

Apple has released the fourth installment in its “Experiments” series, showing off the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera with a stunning series of shots on the theme of “Fire & Ice,” and then taking us behind the scenes to reveal how each scene was captured.

There are seven Experiments videos in all, but the latest might be the most captivating of the bunch. Each shot captures “elements at their most extreme,” and several of them look like they were created using CGI.

Thing is, they weren’t. As you can see in the accompanying behind-the-scenes video, all of these shots—unlike most of those “Shot on iPhone” productions that Apple releases—could be replicated by anyone with a little know-how and appropriate safety precautions:

Honestly, for as cool as the main video is, the behind the scenes reveal is much more interesting to us. Check out both videos above for a dose of inspiration, and if you enjoyed this video, you can find the full Experiments series on YouTube by clicking here.

(via 9to5Mac via DPReview)

Want to Adapt Your Canon EF Glass to a Nikon Z Camera? Problem Solved

Want to Adapt Your Canon EF Glass to a Nikon Z Camera? Problem Solved

Chinese company TECHART has just announced that it has released an adapter that converts Canon EF lenses to Nikon Z mount, maintaining aperture control and autofocus performance.

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Low Contrast Lens Filters: What They are and Why You Should Use Them

As the name of the filter alludes to, these lens filters do indeed lower the overall contrast of a shot. To clarify what that means in relation to photography: these filters will reduce the darkness of the shadows by allowing light to bleed into them from surrounding highlights.

From the example images below, you should get a very good idea of what the low contrast filters do:

Both of these example images are taken with exactly the same camera settings and are displayed straight out of camera. So although they’re shot with the same settings, the image with the low contrast filter clearly has a certain subtle glow, or haze effect.

Now that we’ve established what they technically do, let’s look at how low contrast filters actually translate into practical uses.

Low Contrast Filters – Past to Present

Historically, lens filters were always far more popular than they are now. The obvious reason for this decline is thanks to the proliferation of post-production techniques and all the options and flexibility that working on images after they’ve been captured offers you.

Years ago, low contrast filters were often used to give skin a certain ‘glow’ and to also flatter some of the skins imperfections. Remember, this was in a time before ‘retouching’, anything that softened or hid those minor lumps and bumps in camera was extremely useful.

But, low contrast filters are seemingly making a comeback as the cameras and lenses being made today are simply ‘too sharp’ for some projects. For example cinema and T.V. still use lens filters a lot and the low contrast filters are often used on period pieces where the razor sharp images of modern cameras simply feels out of place in many historical dramas.

Low Contrast Filters in Action on the Screen

The Crown

Cinematographer Adriano Goldman spoke about his particular visual look for the hugely successful Netflix show “The Crown.”

“The show uses the Sony F55, Cooke Panchros and, often, Tiffen Glimmer Glass.”

-Adriano Goldman

Pay close attention to how bright those shadows are where the curtains meet the window. Now imagine how dark those shadows would be with no low contrast filter in place. They’d be extremely dark and we’d lose separation and depth with the subject.

Many shooters will often tell you how unbelievably sharp their lenses are, and “unbelievably” sharp is the right verb here. Many lenses are indeed “too” sharp and clear for some projects and Goldman uses the Tiffen lens filter for beautiful effect in the Crown series. For those unfamiliar with the filter, here’s how Tiffen describes what their Glimmer Glass does.

“Тhе multіfunсtіоnаl dіffuѕіоn/bеаutу Тіffеn 4х4 Glіmmеr Glаѕѕ 1 Fіltеr hаѕ thе аbіlіtу tо bоth ѕоftеn thе fіnе dеtаіlѕ іn аn іmаgе, аnd рrоduсе glоwіng hіghlіghtѕ. Рrоvіdіng а mіld rеduсtіоn іn соntrаѕt, іt сrеаtеѕ а mоrе еthеrеаl іmаgе.”

-Tiffen

Peaky Blinders

Another example of a period piece using low contrast filters “in-camera” during shooting is the gangster epic show “Peaky Blinders.” Those familiar with the show will no doubt be aware that this is a polar opposite show to “The Crown,” but the atmosphere and depth a low contrast filter can add to visual storytelling is universal.

Director of photography Si Bell goes on to speak about the look of the show and what they were keen to achieve.

“A Tiffen 1/4 black satin filter was deployed most of the time with NDs and rotating polarisers just to take the shine and reflections off certain things.”

-Si Bell

It’s worth bearing in mind that many of these dramas are set in areas with multiple points of light. Many of Peaky Blinders scenes are set in bar scenes and very dark rooms with extremely bright spots of light around them and occasionally even bare candle light in shot. Care needs be taken to give those lights a warm glow without them being too overpowering. Look at the spot of light behind the head here. See how it appears to have a warm glow and isn’t burning out to pure white?

Bell mentions the use of a Tiffen “Black Satin Filter.” Not familiar with that filter? Here’s what Tiffen says it does.

“Тhе Вlасk Ѕаtіn fіltеrѕ gеntlу соntrоlѕ hіghlіghtѕ, rеduсеѕ соntrаѕt аnd аddѕ а grіttіеr, wаrmеr lооk thаn rеgulаr Ѕаtіnѕ, whіlе ѕuррrеѕѕіng fасіаl blеmіѕhеѕ аnd wrіnklеѕ.”

-Tiffen

There are many, many more example of this in modern television and if you were so inclined, you could simply Google “insert TV show name + camera setup” and you’d be astounded to see how many shows actually use some form of low contrast filter on their lenses.

I had a hunch that The Crown and Peaky Blinders used them, Googled it, and boom! They did. Trust me, the list of modern cinematographers and directors of photograph using these filters on their lenses is huge. In fact, it’s possibly more common than ever before and that is in part due to the rise of incredibly sharp digital camera and lens technology.

It’s worth nothing here that many of these shows will often introduce artificial atmospheres to their sets like smoke and haze, and although they produce a very similar look to the blacks as the low contrast filters, the haze and smoke is far harder to control and it doens’t help the highlights.

Many of these media productions want huge files for 8k televisions and theatre screens, but many cinematographers in the early 2000’s were hesitant to switch away from film as the digital options lacked a certain character and richness. These low contrast lens filters, along with a host of other ‘in-camera’ filters can take an edge off a heavily digital look that is often far more appealing to audiences. To further cement this point, I was also reliably informed that Tom Cruise refused to be shot on the more modern digital cameras as they were too unflattering.

Low Contrast Filters in Photography

So now that I’ve shared a couple of examples of how low contrast filters are being used in pop-culture, you should be a little more receptive to the idea of actually using an in-camera technique that involves lens filters yourself. If shows like The Crown or Peaky Blinders, that seemingly have an infinite budget are using lens techniques over post-pro hacks, maybe there’s something to them.

Like I mentioned at the top, photographers have been using low contrast filters forever and even before cinema was, but their popularity has waned, especially in portraits. Of course there’s still a market for them and any self-respecting landscape shooters would never leave home without one.

Imagine you’re a landscape shooter and you’ve set up your shot ready for that perfect sunset. The sun dips down low and now everything is heavily silhouetted with that big hot-light in the sky behind that gnarly old tree you wanted to photograph.

Sadly you can’t just whip out a spare fill light to pop some light in that deep shadow, so you can either go for the silhouette shot, or you can give your raw file some extra detail in the shadows by popping a low-contrast filter on the lens. The filter will scatter just enough light into the shadows thereby giving you a little extra detail in those shadows where you previously had none.

Seems an obvious solution, but this basic principle is sorely overlooked by portrait shooters. I so often see some heavily backlit shot where the highlights are so horrendously blown out as the photographer has increased the exposure to see detail in the foreground shadows. But as we also previously discussed, this is actually a modern problem.

Is your lens too good?

This is clearly subjective, but hear me out. Years ago lenses were good, but they weren’t quite as crystal clear as they are today. As a result, some older or even vintage lenses have a sort of low-contrast filter built into them. Their glass naturally scatters light that enters them and we see some of the tell-tale signs of halos and glowing edges associated with some of the modern low-contrast filter shots.

There is NO low contrast filter being used in either of these shots, but you can clearly see that an older Nikon lens from the 70’s had a certain “glow” to it. Fast forward 20 years and we’ve all but eradicated all trace of that glow today.

You should be able to see what I mean from the shots above. A modern lens provides a very clean and clear edge between light and dark and the shadows are all but jet black throughout the shot. For many of us, that’s what we want, but there’s still a place for that older lens look too. To me it feels a little more organic and truth be told, it actually feels a little more “real.”

Technically Perfect, But Not Realistic

Most lens technology is now so good that it actually far surpasses our own eye quality. When I look at the sun or a bright light, there is a glow around it… do I need to upgrade to the pro version?! The older lenses and the more modern low-contrast filter “look” actually feels more reminiscent to us as this is how we would visually see the world in real life! This is one of the key reasons we see it so much in cinema and T.V.

Examples of Low Contrast Filters in Action

Let’s be honest, I’ve been pretty defensive up until this point. If you’ve read this far then you’ll undoubtedly be surprised that I’ve firstly not tried to sell you anything yet, but secondly, I’ve yet to show you any results of low-contrast filters in action with portraits. The reason for this is that the vast majority of photographers simply write off lens filters as “Photoshop for old people.”

Yes there are lens filters that can be replaced by Photoshop actions and filters if you want, but I honestly believe there is no short-cut or Photoshop hack for what low-contrast filters do.

“Can’t I just reduce the contrast in Photoshop though?”

No. The low contrast filter is doing far more than simply “lowering the contrast.” With a lens filter like this, it’s actually scattering the light as it enters the lens and as a result you’ll have far more detail to work with in supremely contrasty images.

“Sounds good. I’ll use it for every shot!”

No. Please do not use it for every shot, or even most of your shots for that matter. The low contrast filter has a very specific use and that’s often for heavily backlit images where the light, or multiple lights is set against far darker subjects like silhouettes or where we have a lot of strong directional light just out of shot pointed towards to the camera.

Example 1 – Strobe just out of shot pointed at camera.

This image sees me using a LEE Filters Low Contrast Filter No. 1
This image has no low contrast filter being used.

This image has no bare bulb or direct highlight in shot, but it does have a blue light just out of shot to camera right pointed over the subjects shoulder, plus it had a red bulb just out of shot in that lampshade.

Both of these shots were processed in the same way, but it should be clear to see the very significant difference between the two shots. In the image with the low contrast filter we have more detail in the shadows and although we’ve chosen to not pull out too much of that detail (look at the fabric on the jacket lapel for example), it’s there.

Also, look again at the highlights. At the very top of frame where the light is brightest in the image with the no low contrast filter, the lamp with a red bulb has lost nearly all of its colour in the brightest areas. Compare that to the shot with the filter and you see not only more detail, but a lot more colour too.

Example 2 – Heavily back-lit by natural light.

This image sees me using a 3/4 power Low Contrast LEE Filter on the lens.

Here we have a mix of strobe and natural light. It’s worth noting that the majority of this set is lit by that very bright natural light window to camera right. I’d also like you to consider how much light is appearing in the shadows of this room. Look at the corners and the area around the window. I have no light pointed at that due to absurdly limited space, so instead I opted to use a low contrast filter on the lens to “simulate” the effect of light being in the dark areas.

…and because I know there’s already a millennial in comments typing about how they’re “entitled” to see the raw file! Here’s a couple of test shots below where I experimented with the low contrast filter on and off the lens.

The left image shows the raw, straight out of camera file with NO low contrast filter. On the right we have the raw, straight out of camera shot with the LEE Low contrast filter on the lens.

Again, it should be extremely clear to see the difference between these shots and just how much that low contrast filter is doing to the shadows in the image. You have to remember that this filter is giving you options.

If you want to pump the contrast up a little later on in post then you can do. But me not using a low contrast filter here would have been detrimental to the shadow detail in the final shot.

Example 3 – Strong strobe backlight behind subject.

This image has a backlight as the entire background and here I’m using a LEE Low Contrast Filter No.1
This image has a backlight as the entire background and here I’m using a LEE Low Contrast Filter No.1

This particular setup was built around the fact that I knew I wanted to use a low contrast filter on my lens. Behind the subject we have a large softbox that covers the entirety of the background. This understandably kicks a lot of light directly into the camera and I knew that if I used a low contrast filter on the lens here, it would create this slightly hazy effect that nicely mimicked the hazy plant effect we had behind her.

If you’re interested in learning more about this particular setup in detail, it’s fully explaining here.

Are you curious to see what the low contrast filter is actually doing? Take a look at the side by side below, with and without the filter.

On the left you have a shot with the low contrast filter over the lens. On the right you have the shot with nothing in front of the lens. Both of these shots are raws, straight out of camera with zero adjustments.

You get the idea now?

With these three examples, you should now have a pretty strong idea of exactly what these low contrast filters do.

Bottom line: they aren’t for everyday use. In fact, these filters will not even work in every situation. For example, if you have zero light coming straight into the lens, or you have no bright highlights in shot, you could have the low contrast filter on the lens and not even know it.

This is a very situational filter but it can have such a huge impact on your shots if you use it correctly.

The Low Contrast Filter I Use

I personally use a pack of Low Contrast filters from LEE Filters. The pack comes in a range of strengths from a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1. The number 1 offering the most dramatic effect. Truth be told, I’ve not used any of the other brand low contrast filters out there to compare and as you probably noticed from the start of the article when we looked at examples in TV shows, there’s a ton of them by other brands that seemingly do the same thing.

The LEE ones I have work for what I need, but if you want to dig into the low contrast filter options further, you’ll be looking at variations in how they deal with highlights, halos, glow, sharpness, diffusion and more. Trust me, the variances in low contrast filters is a full time job in its own right.

For more details on the ones I use, take a look on LEE’s site here.

I personally use the LEE Filters Low Contrast filter set. This includes filters of varying powers including 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1.

I personally just hold mine in front of the lens with my hands for the shots that I need them for, but you can get a holder that will attach to any size lens you have. I personally prefer this method over the circular screw on ones as I can switch lenses during a shoot without having to buy lens filters for each of them.

You can simply hold the filters in front of your lens with your free hand, or place them in a proper filter holder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it blurry?

I can hear you now,

“But do low contrast filters blur or soften my shot?”

The reason I know you have that question, is because I asked it too. Technically I guess yes, anything in front of your lens will potentially “soften” your shot. I’ll be totally honest though, I can’t see it.

Granted, these slightly more expensive ones from LEE are of exceptional quality and you get what you pay for, but from the tests I’ve done, these filters do not “blur” the shot to reduce contrast. Take a look at the zoomed in shot below to make your own judgments though.

Here we have a very zoomed in crop of an image that had the low contrast filter in use. The eye looks pretty sharp to me.

I showed you this shot earlier in the article and this was one of the test images I took with the low contrast filter in place. You’ll notice that everything is still very much pin-sharp. Also note that we have that very bunched up histogram in the top right of frame. This is showing us that all the data is very much in the middle and this is what we’d expect to see from an image with less contrast.

Low Contrast or Diffusion?

Long time followers of my work will no doubt know that I also regularly use another lens filter called a “diffusion filter,” aka a “soft filter.”

The low contrast filter is very different and you should not expect to simply use a diffusion filter in its place. Think of a diffusion filter causing a more focused area of flare. A low contrast filter will evenly spread the light over the entire scene compared to the more focused flare of the diffusion filter.

Here we have there shots. One with no filter, one with the low contrast filter and one with the diffusion filter.

I’d be wary of using your diffusion filter as replacement for the low contrast filter. You can see from the images above that the diffusion filter is far more aggressive. It has a brighter centre point next to the highlight and it drops off to shadow far quicker.

Don’t get me wrong, diffusion filters have their place, but consider them for more of a “dreamy” look, where as the low contrast will provide more of an “atmospheric” look.

Closing Comments

The short version here is that I recommend everyone has a low contrast filter if you can afford one.

This goes doubly to the mirrorless users who have systems with their painfully sharp files. Yes, you may love the razor sharp images where you can see the DNA in the pores of your subjects, but consider what your subjects and clients may also like to see as well. I personally think that although sharp images are fine, there are times where many creatives are trying to put a little more “soul” and realism back into their shots.

For example, I could go into more detail on how the video games industry spends millions each year on developing purely artificial in-game lenses with bokeh, halos, fringing and diffusion in an attempt to make us feel more “immersed” in a synthesised world.

That entire industry strives to make their imagery look less artificial and I find it odd that as one art form struggles to trick us into being immersed with visual artefacts, another simultaneously strives to make things feel hyper-real by removing all trace of them.

Older readers may also recall the era when “Industrial Light and Magic” specifically strived to create these “visual-effects” in films like “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

These are of course “styles” and although JJ Abrams may have famously overdone the infamous lens flare a little in his more modern work, the fact still remains that there’s huge scope to get away from this purely crystal-clean and perfect look the entire time.

No, video games and movies are not photography, but it’s always advisable to look outside of our own industry to see how others deal with similar aesthetics and what trends are emerging.

A New Generation

It’s also worth noting that we’re starting to see the first generation of photographers that are coming of age who have never used a film camera before or have even seen one! Feel old yet?!

As with everything else, fashion and styles are often cyclical to new generations that come along behind us. I guarantee young people will fall on these old film “effects” and claim them as new and original (which they are to them). I’m calling it here and now, but don’t be at all surprised if you see a resurgence in these “in-camera” looks with photography as we see young photographers emulating looks they see in gaming and cinema.

Lens filters like low contrast filters are a tool and unlike JJ, we should use them sparingly. But in the right situation, these low contrast filters can do what no Photoshop filter can do and we need to have them ready to hand when the situation presents itself.


About the author: Jake Hicks is an editorial and fashion photographer based in Reading, UK. He specializes in keeping the skill in the camera and not just on the screen. If you’d like to learn more about his incredibly popular gelled lighting and post-pro techniques, visit this link for more info. You can find more of his work and writing on his website, Facebook, 500px, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr. This article was also published here.

Apple’s new ‘Fire and Ice’ video shows off the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera capabilities

Apple has published seven videos in its ‘Experiments’ series, including four episodes and four behind-the-scenes videos. Each video is intended to show what’s possible with ‘an iPhone, simple materials, and boundless creativity,’ according to the company. The latest video involves effects created by fire and ice; past examples include water and colorful objects.

The methods used to create Apple’s newest Experiments videos are fairly simple and reproducible at home, including the use of dry ice, what appears to be isopropyl alcohol in a glass jug, a wire mesh covered in lint and caught on fire, a red hot piece of metal placed on dark paper and more. The majority of the shots were captured by hand.

What’s ADR in Film and Why is it Important?

Professional movies have insane budgets, so they better have the best sound. But how can you achieve the same standards for much less? The secret is ADR in film.

Have you ever shot a scene and been unable to get around problematic noise in the background? Ever shot a complex walk-and-talk where the boom operator just couldn’t keep up? Or maybe you were in a tight space and things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

Well, when professionals run into these problems they use ADR in film.

When asked what disqualifies contest entries, “sound quality” is the number one thing mentioned by some of the programmers we’ve spoken with over the years. So if you want your projects to come across as polished features, shorts, or pilots, you need to have the best sound possible.

That’s where ADR comes into play.

Today I want to go over ADR, how to set up you own ADR sessions, and how to make your sound pop off the screen.

Roll sounds and let’s get started.

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The Top Astronomical Events of 2020 for Astrophotography

The Top Astronomical Events of 2020 for Astrophotography

Whether you are looking to get into astrophotography or take your skills to the next level, 2020 has lots of great astronomical events happening all over the world. Planning in advance and being in the right place at the right time is the first step to getting amazing shots.

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DPReview TV: Canon 1D X Mark III for video

Canon’s 1D X Mark III sets a new standard for video specs in a DSLR-style camera. What’s it like to use? Jordan Drake from DPReview TV shares his first impressions of this camera’s impressive video capabilities.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

Sample video

Want to see more video from the Canon 1D X III? Here’s a sample reel we shot with the help of Lawless Forge in Seattle, WA.