How to Use Graduated Filters for Amazing Landscape Photos

graduated filters

Ask yourself this very simple question: “How did I get started in the adventure of photography? Depending on your age, this adventure started with the “film” of a compact camera or by taking a photo with a mobile phone. The first object was a tool that helped us reflect time, whereas today’s technology allows us to record the moment. Today, we will focus on the use of graduated filters for landscape photos.

The desire to immortalize the moment is very often guided by the uncertainty of our memories or by the need to share our emotions with others. Otherwise, we can go a little further and not only capture the moment but also report it in a more seductive way: in other words, we will leave aside the documentation of the situation to favor an artistic expression of what we sees.

How to Use Graduated Filters for Landscape Photos

Expressing yourself with the help of a camera is extremely interesting because each of us has our own sense of aesthetics which allows us to find our own way in the world of photography. But before defining a style that distinguishes his work from other photographers, it will be necessary to spend considerable time and discover many places and many people that you will have to know.

Of course, it’s not about going into high-speed mode with your camera to get those photos as fast as possible. One must keep in mind that analog photography reigned supreme when Cartier-Bresson spoke those words, so every photo had real meaning and value. But this sentence could be used at any time by the photographer, as a mode of learning photography. It is a question of discovering different disciplines of this art and of trial and error, until knowingly choosing your photography specialty.

If you’re just starting out, you can start with landscape photography. Because of its nature, this photography discipline allows you to learn in depth and progress because the photographer must focus on all the parameters of photography: ISO sensitivity, diaphragm opening. focal length and shutter speed.

ISO Sensitivity

To enjoy full dynamic range and low noise in your photos, you must always be able to count on this essential friend that is the tripod. A tripod that is stable, durable and as light as possible. The equipment available today makes it possible to fulfill these objectives, carbon fiber tripods.

Diaphragm aperture

According to DZOFilm, the diaphragm opening is just as important since it exerts a direct influence on what happens in the scene. It decides what remains sharp and what remains blurred, conversely, in the form of a nice bokeh, for example. It’s also best to be familiar with the optimal aperture of the lens, in other words, know which F-values ​​to use for sharper images (stop apertures between f/5.6 and f/8, in general, even if there are exceptions depending on the lens model).

But relying on these aperture settings limits the ability to change that particular setting and therefore work at different times.

If you want to know more about the aperture of your lenses, take a look at this explanatory post. Don’t forget that this is an essential aspect in photography, to obtain clear works.

Focal distance

As for the focal length, there is no ambiguity. In landscape photography, we have always chosen to use extreme focal lengths to achieve striking shots, in other words by using a wide angle or a telephoto lens.

The focal length of a lens (or rather the angle of view it generates) directly determines the perspective to be employed: with wide-angle lenses, the perspective will stretch and the object in the foreground will appear noticeably bigger and closer.

Telephoto lenses are characterized by their understanding of perspective where the photo looks flatter (and there’s nothing wrong with that), and where objects on other planes look closer.

So there is no universal answer to what should be “best”. Our choice will be determined by our work and the effects sought for each of them.

Shutter speed

But we still have one parameter: time.

Time is linear for us. It’s spinning and there’s nothing we can do about it. But for our camera, time is subjective. It can be reduced by freezing the movement or, conversely, extending it and thus stretching all the moving objects in the scene. To do this, the use of graduated filters for landscape photos is essential.

In this article, we will discuss the silky effect on water that occurs by using longer than usual exposure times and why it is essential to use neutral density filters to achieve this effect.

We then inevitably arrive at the heart of the matter: the possibility of a creative use of graduated filters for photos of incredible landscapes.

We will start with the neutral density filter. A good quality neutral density filter is made of optical glass, with a special coating that serves to reduce the amount of light transmitted through its surface, but without affecting the color of the photo.

As their name suggests, circular filters are round and their assembly is done by screwing the ring on the lens that is on the edges of the filter. The advantage is that they can be installed quickly, in a position that will remain firm and locked.

Square (full density) or rectangular (medium density) filters require an additional accessory to be mounted on the lens: the filter holder.

There is a very simple rule about filters: there is no better way to correct big differences in exposure of a given scene, between light and dark parts, so that the histogram shown does not touch any of the edges ( which will avoid overexposure or underexposure of the image).

Neutral density filters produce a characteristic effect, in other words, they blur movement while limiting the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor. But we can just as well use them for portraits, on sunny days, and when we want to take advantage of a maximum aperture (f/1.8, for example) but our camera does not give us a shutter speed. so fast.

We will try to become familiar with the characteristics of neutral density filters, by specifying their type and their application according to the scene to be photographed, based on the example of the Irix Edge filters.

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