Using Neutral Density Graduated filters in Landscape Photography

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Using Neutral Density Graduated filters in Landscape Photography
27/06/2016 - 17:43



Neutral Density Graduated filters remain, for many situations, as being the best way to balance the contrast range between light and dark tones (also known as the 'dynamic range') within a scene for landscape photographs.



This video blog demonstrates their use in action











How to know which ND Graduated filter to use:



  • Set the camera to Manual setting and an aperture of f/8 to f/11 (most commonly to give good depth of field)


  • Without the ND Graduated filter in place, take a spot meter reading with the foreground filling the frame


  • Repeat the second step - but this time with the sky filling the frame


  • Calculate the 'difference' between those two readings - this indicates the strength of the Neutral Density Graduated filter needed: 1-stop of difference = 0.3 filter; 2-stops of difference = 0.6 filter; 3-stops of difference = 0.9 filter


  • Place the relevant Neutral Density Graduated filter in the holder and make your exposure using the spot-meter reading that you made for the foreground. Because the foreground of the image will be exposed through the clear part of the graduated filter, using the metered shutter exposure duration will ensure a perfect exposure for that part of the image.


* Most filter holders can accept two Neutral Density Graduated filters, so if the difference is more than 3 stops then the grads can be stacked, to cope with such a dynamic range.


** Beware in moments of transient light that the light levels can change significantly, so you may need to review your meter readings!








Cromatek Filters are made by and sold through Spa Photo




**** Cromatek also make a 100 Series, which are suitable for ultra-wide angle lenses

such as 10-20mm (on an APS-C sensor digital SLR).

There will be anothe follow on to this article using the Cromatek 100 series in the near future.




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