Orange Filters and Dramatic Skies

Olympic Park
A rare gear-post today, since not many of my photographs from last weekend were suitably artistic for posting here.

I’d like to talk about one of my favourite bits of kit – a Wratten 22 Red-Orange Filter. It might seem strange that such a tiny bit of kit (and it is tiny – 43mm across) might have such an impact upon me but it has. So much so that I rarely leave the house without it.

It’s purpose is two-fold. Firstly it serves as a psuedo-ND filter, cutting down the amount of light entering the camera by a couple of stops and giving me more flexibility when shooting in sunlight using fairly fast film – handy but not earth shattering.

Where it really comes alive though is in skies. Coloured filters cut out mostly the light of their opposite colour, and make objects of their own colour appear lighter by comparison. In this case, the deep orange colour cuts blue light, giving skies rich deep tones and making the clouds ‘pop’ and stand out in a way they rarely do in black and white.

That leads us all the way back to the image at the top of this post, my example. The orange light of the setting sun on the right appears light, fading to deeper blue across the frame with a mix of little fluffy and long streaky clouds to give texture. Perfect

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