Monday, April 27, 2009

Midsouth Photographic Specialties Sticky Filters

I love great products that come from good companies. Whenever a company solves a common problem with a product, my interest level spikes. MPS Sticky Filters

I also love companies that stand behind their products and offer great customer satisfaction. I have found these qualities in a company and a cool new product, and I feel a need to pass it on. The Midsouth Photographic Specialties companies’ product is aptly named “MPS Sticky Filters ”.

When shooting images with digital cameras, the resulting image file is just ones and zeros. Camera manufactures have come up with an extensive array of engineer-designed filters in order to incorporate a white balance correction code, into a digital image file, in order to make white look white. This is your cameras “white balance” presets, and they are important.

When shooting a scene lit by (lets just say) a florescent light source, one would set the cameras white balance preset to “florescent”, and then simply shoot away. The resulting images should be rather close to the correct white balance, well, in theory that is. But what if we feel the need to introduce some more light, perhaps some flash, into the exact same scene?

In the above shooting environment we set the cameras white balance preset to “florescent”, but the extra light entering from the flash is not the same color temperature as a florescent bulb. The resulting image will not look right at all. The two color temperatures will be fighting against each other, and the resulting image will look odd.

Here are some common methods to help deal with this problem.
First, you could add more and more florescent bulbs (and only florescent bulbs) to the scene, in order to achieve the extra light you need for the image.

Secondly, you could shut off all of the florescent lights, and use only flashes, being sure to change your cameras white balance setting to the “flash” preset.

Thirdly, you might alter the added light sources (flash) to match the florescent light. Hey, that sounds like the easiest way to go!

Introducing the MPS Sticky Filters .

The MPS site explains what their product does as this: “The MPS Sticky Filters convert the color temperature of the flash into the same color as the existing ambient light source so there will only be one color for the camera's software to correct for. The result is an image with natural looking colors throughout the scene, even where the flash didn't reach.”

Let me add that each MPS Sticky Filters  color correcting gel comes in two each, or they come in pairs.

But how well do they work? Time again for a fun “product demo shoot”… I set up a scenario with the above mentioned lighting troubles. It is just another simple setup with a hand bag and a set of color correcting targets on a tan backdrop.

I decided to use florescent bulbs, hanging above my subject, as an available light source. I set my cameras white balance preset to “florescent” and this is the resulting image (top of two images below), and with an accurate color adjustment later done in Photoshop (on the bottom of the two images below). The color shift is remarkable.

As you can easily see, the image on the bottom is color corrected, while the one on the top is at best; close (as in horse shoes and hand grenades that is).

Then, in the images below, I added a single Nikon SB-28 flash (left), without anything on it as far as color correcting gels, and took an image. Here (right) is how it changed the images white balance. MPS Sticky Filters

Wow, the color of the flash ruined the image. I set the cameras white balance to its florescent color preset, but it actually looks somewhat better, right?

Lastly, I placed a MPS Sticky Filters color correcting gel titled "unknown Florescent" on the flash, and took these, the final two images.

MPS Sticky Filters
This is the best overall shot of the bunch. The gel (from MPS Sticky filters) on the flash appears as an even, more intense florescent light, acting as a fill light. My flash appeared to be a florescent temperature!

MPS Sticky Filters  come in five different colors: .5 Tungsten Bulbs, Cool Fluorescent, Warm Fluorescent, Unknown Fluorescent, and Hazy / Open Shade. The instruction sheet that comes with the Sticky filters explains exactly which filter to use in just which available lighting conditions. It all worked out to be easy and I was done in seconds flat!
Please feel free to comment with any questions or ideas, and as always, feel free to subcribe to "A.T.A.P.". Each and evry one of you is very special to me!

In closing I would like to say that the MPS sticky filters would be at home in any photographers gear bag. These clever devices can make color correcting and hard to light shoots, a breeze. They are fast in use, and the results are very good.


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