Tips & Techniques

Enhance The Light - About Hoya Cross Screen Filters

By Naf Selmani (UK)

Lighting can be enhanced in ways that go beyond what exists in nature. A Cross Screen filter, also known as a star filter, is a small, yet effectual addition to the set-up of any photographer or videographer, whether they are professional or amateur enthusiast.

This type of special effects’ filters are used to stretch a light source in a creative manner, accentuating its aesthetic properties and enhancing the way it interacts with any surroundings.

A cityscape at night with lights blazing away like stars in the sky can be a scintillating show, and when captured in a photo, it can dazzle the eye.

To create this twinkling effect in your after-dark cityscapes, thread a star filter from Hoya in front of your lens and see the difference. It is clear!

Without Filter

With Filter

About Hoya Cross Screen Filters

I have been using Hoya Cross Screen filters for quiet a long time because they allow me to create high quality photographs that are unique and much more different and interesting than what the camera normally sees.

Hoya Cross Screen filters are of colourless, high-precision optical glass, and mounted on beautiful metal rings. They can be easily attached to and removed from the camera lens. The filters are made of the same optical glass and polished to the same accuracy as a photographic lens. Moreover, the absorption quality (colour) does not change at all.

What do these filters do is that they turn any points of light sources and specular highlights into dazzling “star effects” streaking outward from a central light source. This can make lighting within the scene take on a more glittering, glamorous appearance.

HOYA 4-Point Star Filter

This effect is produced by a series of fine grid lines etched into the flat optical surface of the filter. These lines act as cylindrical lenses, diffracting light points into long thin lines of light running perpendicular to the etched lines. Depending on the pattern, point light sources and reflections create multi-beam stars. The great advantage of using a Cross Screen filter is that all of these star effects can be achieved in-camera.

You may rotate the filter accordingly to avoid visible lines like shown in the photo above or until the desired effect is achieved.

Which Cross Screen Filter Should I choose?

The number of desired stars effect varies by the construction of the filter, as does the number of points each star has. Hoya's Cross Screen filters comes in four-, six- and eight-pointed light flares.

Here is a table to show the different types of Hoya Cross Screen filters:

4 Point Star Filter The four point star filter creates images where the light source is divided into a cross star with four points. This effect is relatively subtle and is often used in candle or street photography, reinforcing light without allowing it to detract from the central image.
6 Point Star Filter The six point star filter diffracts light into six separate beams radiating out from a central point. The flare is slightly more vivid than the four point star filter.
8 Point Star Filter From the eight point star filter upwards, the brightness and fragmentation of light may overwhelm a shot. Unless this is the desired result, it is best to use this filter sparingly.

The Star effect will become more pronounced with a brighter, larger source. As these filters modify the images recorded, sometimes they are used to make only subtle changes to images; other times the image would simply not be possible without them.

Without Filter

With HOYA Cross Screen (Star-4)

You may try to replicate the effects in software all day long at home or in studio, although the nuance and dimension is almost impossible to replicate on a computer. But there is nothing better than going out there yourself to experience the real joy of photography and filming, and to get that retro 70’s and 80’s commercial photography and video look, especially around the holidays when there are decorative lights to film and to photograph just about everywhere. Plus, it only takes a few seconds to screw the filter on the lens.

Without Filter

With HOYA Cross Screen Filter (Star-8)

Popular Subjects for Star Effects Photography

Almost any composition that involves light, reflection, and contrast can make a successful star filter photograph. Over the years, star filter usage has become popular in areas as diverse as the entertainment industry - where the filters pick up and magnify tiny reflections from instruments - and wildlife photography. Here is a table to show some of the most popular subjects of star filter photography.

Candles In photographs taken with a conventional lens, the flame of a candle can appear to have a halo surrounding it. A star filter will transform the fuzziness into a series of defined spikes, adding an extra blaze of drama to the image. Groups or rows of candles captured on film in this way give a magical, fairy-tale feel to an image.
Jewellery Photographers often use a star filter to highlight the sparkle of a diamond or the sheen of a vibrant gold piece. This technique is popular with collection catalogues, when recording items for insurance purposes, and in sales literature. The extremely reflective surfaces of jewellery only need a very soft ambient light to provide beautiful visual effects.
Electric lighting Electric lighting can be captured on a star filter photograph, from far away or close-up. When taken as a distance shot in urban areas and contrasted against the grey of buildings, the diffracted beams of light look stunning as they burst out of the darkness. However, the intensity of the effect can be modified later using the appropriate computer software.
Water The dazzling play enacted by beams of light on a liquid surface is an enjoyable sight on a sunny day. It can be caught on film successfully using a star filter. Points of 8 or more work well, mimicking the multi-diffracting action of sunlight.

Conclusion

A Cross Screen filter is a useful part of any set-up, increasing the capacity of a camera and offering a range of stunning photographic and video applications. It gives the photographer or videographer a wide range of creative options to turn the ordinary, into something extraordinary These filters have helped me discover new ways to capture light, and have become an essential part of my photography gear.

Hoya Cross Screen filters are available in a range of sizes: 46mm, 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm.

Check out Hoya Special Effects Filters for more details.

You can see more of my work on Facebook and Instagram.

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