Color balance & correction filters... and Color change filters... and ethics??? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Some photographers carry color meters or compensation charts & info for the film they use in varying light. The charts & meters tell when to add a color correction filter to compensate for color temperature variations of a films color shift with longer exposures. Does this fall into "the use of filters"? I say it does not as one isn't trying to change the image rendition but to keep it true to the film we choose. After all, Velvia is Disneychrome & isn't exactly 'accurate' anyhow, but using CC filters to keep its color within the expected range isn't an attempt to change the colors but to keep them where we think they should be. If we want to change them we can use an enhancing filter, added filtration, etc. I come onto the question after seeing some super saturated images from SoUtah red rock country. Saturation *almost* unbelievable if I had not seen it personally. Saturation some viewers look at and peg immediately as fake. Yet I know it isn't, it is Velvia giving the saturation we saw when we shot the images(with Velvia specifically chosen for its super saturation) The skies in the background are still blue & the whites are still white. No printing tricks other than using Ilfochrome to make the Velvia pop on paper as it does on the slide. So, with some seeing the photographer using a CC filter & yelling "he is cheating" while he is trying to filter the film to its factory expectations, and not using enhancing filtration, is his use "natural" and "without filters"?

-- Dan Smith (, November 24, 2001


1.) Who ever said that any color film was an exact mirror of "reality"? All of photography is an abstraction of course. or if you prefer a distillation of your experience of a moment and a place, and perhaps a persona.

2.) Which 'reality' are you paying fealty to, the objective situation before you at a particular moment, your experience of that unique instant, or of the limitations of the media you use to depict either or (hopefully) both with?

If i choose a telephoto, a "normal", or a wide angle lens, or use any camera movements, are those not "cheats" too by your standards? Of course they are.

But does that matter/

Steiglitz once told Arnold Newman, that he didn't care what was done to the negative as long as the image, the print was true.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 25, 2001.

All pictures are a perception of reality. We are limited by our materials. Therefore we have to control them to get the proper perception. Changing the image with filters isn't cheating. I am more pissed off when I see it done poorly. Being "natural" is an outdated concept to apply to photography. A photograph's connection to reality is the true standard. Is this altered photograph accurate of what I felt and saw in my situation? If it is, then I am successful. Dan, you know how you feel about filtering but maybe you are insecure in your choice. However you made your choice so just stop thinking about it. If it works visually...

-- David Payumo (, November 25, 2001.

Ignore anyone who declares it to be 'cheating' Dan. They're plainly quite mad. By their rationale, the use of film containing man-made artificial dyes would be cheating. The use of camera movements to change perspective or increase depth-of-field would be cheating. The selection of a point-of-view that enhances the subject would be cheating. Dodging and burning a print would be cheating. In fact, the very use of cameras and lenses is 'unnatural'; shouldn't that be classed as cheating too?.
No filters allowed, eh? Well, shock horror! The glass used in lenses filters out a lot of UV, as well as some visible light, and colour film has a yellow filter layer built right into it!
Just give those fools a fit of apoplexy by telling them you used a polariser to enhance the saturation! Compared to the previously mentioned travesties, the simple removal of surface glare is hardly cheating at all.

-- Pete Andrews (, November 26, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ