How Filters Function

All filters absorb portions of the visible electromagnetic spectrum and pass through or transmit the remainder. Universally, camera filters transmit light of their own color. In some instances, they also transmit some of the light of most immediately adjacent colors while at the same time absorbing the other colors.


Colors that we usually see are rarely pure. Instead, they are a mixture of two primaries. For instance, yellow is a mixture of equal parts of red and green. If you place a green filter over your lens, it will pass the green component reflected from a yellow subject (such as a lemon) and block the red. Using a red filter when photographing the same lemon will result in red being passed and green being blocked.


There are two main types of light:

  • Daylight in its many forms

  • Artificial light. Sources of illumination run from the primitive light generated by a burning fire to huge and powerful manmade sodium vapor floodlights.

More about film photography


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