Saturday, May 4, 2013

PHOTOGRAPHY: Tips For Using Neutral Density Filters

Are you familiar with neutral density filters (often called an ND grad filter)? Neutral density means there is no coloration and it is a dark filter. The grad just means there is a gradation from a darker zone fading into a transparent area. If you use this device carefully, with landscapes this will make a huge difference to create dark and dramatic skies and for other wonderful effects. It is also very useful to help adjust the intensity of light in your pictures that can be seen between the bright sky and the land, which is often much darker depending on the weather conditions.

Let's imagine you plan to get a picture of a house with a neutral density grad filter. Most of the time you would want to balance the exposure. As mentioned above, this can be very useful if you have a glaringly bright sky and a dull foreground. By putting the grad filter in the slot in the holder of your lens, you can slide the grey grad filter down over the horizon.

Supposing it's a bright sunny day, the building we are shooting would be lit up by the sun and you would most likely select a softer gradation. On a cloudy day with relatively flat lighting you want to accentuate the clouds and bring them out a little bit more.

The trick with using these is that you need to slide them down so that the gradation begins just above the horizon line. When using a smaller aperture, that change will become more obvious because we have a significantly larger depth of field, meaning what's near the lens will be more in focus so the transition effect will be more severe.

We can work with an aperture priority or a shutter priority and the camera will calculate the other settings, there is no need to worry about all of the manual settings.

When you buy a new lens filter, it usually comes with a holder so that you can slide it over the front of your lens and slide it up and down to get the perfect position.

If you're thinking about shooting with filters this is a perfect place to begin because it isn't complex.


By Luke Walker

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