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Monday, November 23, 2009

Photography accessory : Star 8 Filter (Cross-Screen Filter)

Star 8 filter, a photography accessory? Yeah, you read it right, above title deviated from my usual line-up of topic on culinary. I interrupted my regular recipe-sharing and interspersed with bits and pieces of photography in between. For me, food writing and  photography should go in parallel, good photography skills is required to justify good food. I think this explain why the provocative term food porn has become particularly prevalent in food-related blogs, as both elements above boast a spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating.

Well, before I digress further into food porn, I must admit I am a rookie at photography. As a self-confessed noob cook and budding photographer, I picked up some fundamental skills from my hubby and constantly made some progress on my photography learning curve. Photography accessory is not a necessity but sometimes it does contributes some intoxicating effects that exceeded what you are anticipating. At other time, I just like to unwind myself and experiment with some photography accessories apart from kitchen stuff.

Do you ever seen night scene photos with a very pleasing star burst pattern on the light source or bright objects? For example, night street scene with all the street lights emitting a star burst pattern. Well, my hubby bought a TianYa rotating star 8 point filter weeks ago and to experiment with the star burst effect, he waited for nightfall and captured some night scenes of our condominium garden.

Star burst effect by light source using a TianYa star 8 filter (cross-screen filter)
Star burst effect by light source using a TianYa star 8 filter (cross-screen filter)

How is it done? Well, there're two options, stepping down the lens or using a special effect filter called cross-screen filter (a.k.a star filter).

TianYa Star 8 Filter (Cross Screen Filter)Stepping the lens requires the lens aperture to be stepped down, for example using a smaller aperture, say f/16 or f/32. However, there's limitation to this approach. Common issue via stepping down is that most lens tend to step down too much and resulted in soft image (i.e. image not sharp). Also the number of star point depends on the number of aperture blade, a lens with 7 aperture blade will yield star with 14 point. This means that for a given lens, you're stuck with the number of star point.

A cross-screen filter, commonly known as a star filter, creates a "star" pattern, in which lines radiate outward from bright objects. The star pattern is generated by a very fine diffraction grating embedded in the filter. The number of stars varies by the construction of the filter, as does the number of points each star has. The naming of the filter is pretty straight forward, for example a star filter that produces 8 points star, is know as "Star 8 Filter". Most star filter also allows user to "rotate" the star orientation.

Thumbs up for Star filter from TianYa (well-known for making the another affordable Cokin P-Series compatible square filter). With an affordable price of only RM40, you can experiment with rotating star burst effect!

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