Which Filters for Landscape Photographers?
A discussion about creative filters on an Internet forum got me thinking, and prompted me to post a quick article here on a question new landscape/seascape/cityscape photographers often ask: Which filters should I buy?
I personally recommend Lee filters (although I have a HiTech filter in my rig), and use the Lee filter holder and adapter ring.
I shoot cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes, and generally do not use graduated ND filters for cityscapes, as I tend to only shoot at twilight, or otherwise when the light is soft and low in contrast.
- 1.2 (four-stop) soft GND;
- 0.9 (three-stop) soft GND;
- 0.6 (two-stop) soft GND;
- two 0.9 (three-stop) ND; and
- ten-stop ND.
Apart from the 1.2 GND, this is the combination I use. (At the time I bought my filters, the 1.2 GND may not have been available.)
I sometimes stack both of my grads, which provides for a five-stop transition.
My view is that 0.3 (one-stop) grads are useless in harsh Australian light. For the money a good grad filter costs, I would recommend something far more effective.
Some people recommend using hard grads for scenes with flat horizons (eg, ocean views), but in my experience of having shot a lot of seascape images, I have never found soft grads to be lacking. Soft grads offer more flexibility and a less-pronounced transition between filtered and unfiltered subject matter.
Now, Lee filters are not particularly cheap, and buying all of the above equipment will be a rather expensive undertaking; so if I had to recommend a single filter to someone whose budget is only so accommodating, I would recommend the 0.9 soft grad.
Similarly, if someone could only have one neutral-density filter, I would recommend 0.9.
A three-stop filter of either kind provides a good middle-of-the-road approach if one's limitation is a single filter.
Natutrally, a photographer will quickly find a single filter limiting, but as a starting point it will provide sufficient flexibility.
Published on Saturday, 24th January, 2015.