While you have doubtless enjoyed the break I have taken from filing blogs, I'm back with a quick review of two new filters from Singh Ray.
Filters are glass or plastic constructs, which attach to the end of your lens barrel by either screwing on, or by being slotted into a filter holder which screws onto the end of the lens. Filters do just that; they filter out certain types of light, in order to have a particular effect on the image. A neutral density filter (ND) for example, is a grey-colored filter, which filters out the amount of light entering the lens, without altering the color of the light. An Infrared filter blocks all light except high-speed red light, a polarizing filter screens incoming light to block non-parallel light waves, and so forth.
The new filters I received were:
(1). Singh Ray Infra-Red filter (IR). The result of an IR filter is to only allow high speed red light into the camera. It creates very interesting, very unique black and white results.
(2). Singh Ray Tony Sweet Soft-Ray filter, which is designed to create a soft-focus effect and glow, without losing details.
I set out to take some shots, staring at the hydro dam located in Galetta, in rural Ottawa north on the Mississippi River. The first shot below is a timed exposure, which shows the running water below the dam. Nothing remarkable. I used two ND filters to create 13 full stops of darkening power, in addition to setting the ISO as low as possible (ISO 100) to make the sensor as light resistant as possible to prevent over exposure.
The second shot was taken with the IR filter, see the curious manner in which light is produced in the final image.
The third and fourth exposures were taken at Morris Island on the Ottawa River, using the IR filter. When shooting in black and white, or monochrome, it may appear at first glance that this is another monochrome photo, but objects that are normally bright look dark, and some that are normally dark seem to have a bright glow (see the green trees in the photos). The effect has been described as eerie, and Stygian, a term which refers to the River Styx, the mythical river the dead, thus relating to a certain ethereal, gloomy quality that I find more evocative than depressing in any way.
The fifth exposure is an example of the Tony Sweet Soft-Ray diffuser, giving a particular glowing effect. I think this filter would be best used at early morning or late evening to take the best advantage of the diffusing effect. Its an expensive filter, and needs more experimentation, but its not knocking my socks off yet.
Photos six and seven are timed exposures (8 seconds and 40 seconds respectively). Photo six is a shot of an old stone bridge bulwark in the Mississippi River, with hard-running water moving violently around it, taken using ND filters. Photo seven was taken using the IR filter, so you can draw a comparison between the two types of filters. Photos eight and nine are also ND and IR filter shots, taken of the five-span bridge. Again, you can draw a comparison between the ND which shows color, and the IR, which is in monochrome and which produces those odd results.
Overall, I enjoyed breaking these filters in, and will continue to use them and report back. I like the IR filter, which is a well-constructed result in glass and anodized aluminum. Taking exposures with the IR filter means a tripod and long exposures (45 seconds to a minute and a half). I find the results to be interesting and full of possibility.
The Tony Sweet Soft Ray is, or appears to be plastic and anodized aluminum, and the effect is to me, less impressive than the IR. It just looks like you're taking pictures with a dirty lens, a less than spectacular effect for the price. This is the first of many Singh Ray filters that I have bought that I'm not immediately impressed with. For the price, I'd expect a glass, not plastic lens, and more of an effect. That said, I plan to try and shoot high-color outdoor scenes at dawn and dusk, when the light is really best suited to this sort of filter.
As I do more experimentation, I'll report back so I can put more readers to sleep.
Take care and keep shooting,
All the best,
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!