Every year the winter season bights up our cities with dreamy illuminations, real artworks to be enjoyed... and captured. To get the most out of it, let us recommend you two must-have types of filters: star filters and soft filters.
Star filters can shape a point light source into a cross, thus enhancing the sparkling of light, for a way more impressive effect on the final image. This main feature makes cross filters always a recommended filter when it comes to night city scape photography or snap-shots of seasonal city lights and illuminations.
The difference is remarkable. As shown in the two images below, when using star filters light gets that dreamy sparkling shape, and its brilliance is so much enhanced that the final image looks even brighter.
Star filters come also in different types for different cross effects:
Creating a 4-pointed star cross effect HOYA PRO1D STAR 4 or HOYA Cross Screen (CS) filter is the most popular, for a classic effect. Performing a cross effect reminiscent of snow crystals, 6-pointed HOYA STAR-SIX filter is perfect for capturing the atmosphere of holidays illuminations. With 8-pointed stars, HOYA STAR-EIGHT filter creates the most brilliant effect on light sources.
A very creative type of cross filter with a more unique cross effect is the HOYA SPARKLE series, which is available in 4-pointed and 6-pointed versions. In contrast to conventional star filters, the SPARKLE filters create only moderately sized beams, preventing that the star effect totally takes over the image. Further, the SPARKLE filters can also create a soft effect in the photo if there are no strong light sources, making the atmosphere warm and cozy.
How to Use Star Filters: Hot Tips!
Here a few main points on how to use and master star filters that will come in hand of both beginners and more expert photographers.
Star filters are effective only on point light sources. Linear light sources, like neon lamps, etc., or flat light sources, like from device screens etc., are not suitable light sources when using star filters.
The resulting cross effect of Star filters may vary depending on the intensity of the light source you are shooting at, or the distance from it. Make sure that the light output meets the desired effect by checking it through the camera's viewfinder or monitor.
Moreover, star (HOYA PRO1D STAR 4) filters equipped with a rotating frame allow to change the cross angle by simply rotating the filter frame from straight (+) to slightly tilted (x). In this case, too, check the desired angle through the camera's viewfinder or monitor before shooting.
The most suitable setting when shooting with star filters would be at 50mm or longer focal length and at almost maximum aperture. With wide angle lenses, or with a too closed aperture, light rays may appear fragmented on the final image.
A large part of today's digital cameras comes with a convenient filter function (digital filter) installed. However, as for the final effect, there is no comparison whatsoever.
Together with star filters, the second must have filters when it comes to shooting in this time of the year are soft filters. Soft filters, like HOYA SOFTENER, can effectively diffuse light so to create a hint of softness and enhanced glimmering on point light sources, like illumination lights, etc. Such a feature can create an impressive effect on the final image even with feeble light sources.
Soft filters come in different types but the most popular are those performing a more visible blurred effect (like HOYA SOFTENER A, HOYA SOFTENER B filters) and those performing a foggy effect (like HOYA FOG A, HOYA FOG B filters). These soft filters can be also used without limitations related to the focal length or aperture used. Also, the longer the focal length, the more visible the softening blurred effect will appear on the final image. For tele lenses - type A (weak effect), for wide angle lens - type B (strong effect) are recommended.
Comparison of softening effect of different soft filters
Fog filters are the soft filters that can create a suffused and misty atmosphere, with a unique blurred effect particularly on strong light sources.
Screw-on type star filters and soft filters, including softner and fog filters, can be also combined and used together for a double effect, thus creating even more fairytale-like atmosphere and capture the essence of this holidays scenario.