Whether your are shooting digital images or film; whether in black-and-white or color, you can use filters as an inexpensive way to help make your photographs stand out. All you need is an SLR camera with an interchangeable lens mount and lens, and the filter of your choosing, of course.

There are a large variety of filters to choose from and picking one can be intimidating and difficult for the amateur photographer. The most common types are polarizers, uv filters, and graduated and colored filters.

The first step is to find out what size filter you will need. Check on the inside of the lens cap, the size is usually there in mm. Otherwise check the documentation that came with the lens or find it online. Note, if you own several lenses, it is likely that you will need to use different size filters for each lens. Second, choose your filter and screw on to the end of your camera lens. Third, start shooting.

A good filter to start with is a UV filter. This filters out UV rays and can help reduce haze while minimally reducing visible light. You can leave it on your lens for most of your shots and as a bonus it works as a great lens protector. I normally leave one on all the time, unless I am using another filter.

If you just want to have some fun, try a cross-screen or star diffractor filter. They create a cool starburst effect around points of light. These come in different varieties with varying amounts of star points. This filter is best used at night or in dimly lit situations.