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Subject: Using Filters (electronic)

Category: Photography

Posted: 09-27-13 8:28 AM - Views: 1725

By: Glen Charles

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I think that we photographers on LI strive to present unique pictures - a view of some scene done in a way that is different from anyone else. A straight shot of any scene is not going to be unique. Millions of iPhone snap-shooters have already taken the same picture. This is a big problem for professional photographers trying to sell their wares on the on-line services - every Tom, Dick and Harry has already posted an image essentially the same and willing to sell it for a dollar or two. Henri Cartier Bresson was appalled by the rise in popularity of air travel. Whereas he had to travel for weeks by boat and camel to get to a newsworthy location, and was able to provide a unique view of the place, now it was possible for "any cretin" [his words with a camera to get there and make pictures, for a fraction of the cost.

And here we are today with google maps automobiles that drive around with a camera on the roof taking millions of pictures of every street in America. And if you want a quick view of some place, you can get it on the internet. And there are more pictures taken everyday from iPhones, than from all the digital cameras in the USA.

A funny experience:
I was in Florida and wanted to find a camera store nearby. I asked Siri "where is a camera store near me?" She said "What is wrong with the camera you have?" I thought she meant I needed a repair place for my camera. I said: "I am looking for a store that sells cameras." and she replied "Glen, you have a pretty good camera in your hand."
And then I realized she was talking about the iPhone 4S.
She never would direct me to a camera shop.
I never had thought of the iPhone as a camera, only as a device to snap pictures of things I needed to remember, or make copies of (documents.) But 245 million people own iPhones and are taking dozens of pictures every day - some pictures get published in the mass media.

And that brings me to the topic: Filters let you make your picture unique. FIlters are so flexible that no two people could make the same filtered picture, because there are many variables to choose from, and millions of effects possible. Now, I am not talking about Snapseed filters of film emulation filters, which have very little user input, so that it is entirely possible for millions of users to get the same look, but those filters that require intelligent user input to get a particular look.

Advertisements are unique to the product. The ads have a certain look that you associate with the product. And the ads have been made using filters to get that unique look - sometimes the "filters" are processes used in making the picture, rather than simply plug in effects.

Filters can let you make an ordinary picture, "art."

If you go to you will see many examples of filtered picture. I think there may only be a hand-full that have not been filtered. In some you will not be able to recognize that they have been filtered, they look so normal. Some are so heavily filtered and the original image so distorted that it is hard to pick out the picture the camera made.

I have added some examples of using Snapseed and Swerve Filters on my website (non commercial) at

More to come on using filters if there is interest at LI.
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Reply from Glen Charles on 11-5-13 5:21 AM

I have posted some heavily filtered pictures this week
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