The Essential Filters for Landscape Photography | Landscape Photography Tips

– Hi guys, it's Ross Hoddinott for naturettlcom and this is my guide, the essential filters for landscape photography

(soothing electronic music) (relaxing acoustic music) So first things first We need to decide what type of filter we're going to use to take our photograph There are two types available There are circular filters that attach directly to your lens and there are also slot-in filters that work with a system like this The advantage of a system is that you can combine corrective and creative filters together and it's certainly the system that I prefer

There are a number of brands that produce this kind of system, including Cokin, NiSi and Hitech But personally, I favour LEE Filters and they're renowned for their quality and a lot of leading landscape photographers tend to go for LEE In order to attach the filter system to my camera, I need to attach an adapter ring first And this adapter ring is a wide angle adapter ring which means it's recessed further my lens And the reason for that is it reduces the risk of vignetting

Once the adapter ring is attached, then I can just pop the filter holder on and it's as simple as that It just snaps on and off really quickly And now, I can start to consider my composition and look to frame my shot (relaxing acoustic music) I've got my shot all framed up and the water motion looks fantastic in front of me It's quite high now, the water, it's swirling around

It looks really nice I'm going to take a picture now I'm just going to take a quick test shot basically The shutter speed is a 30th of a second (camera shutter) The water is quite messy and really what I want to do now is prolong the exposure to get a bit of motion for creative effect

And the way I'm going to do that is use a neutral density filter, an ND filter And that will allow me to artificially length an exposure They come in different strengths From one stop up to 15 stops A stop is a doubling or a halving of an exposure value

And this filter here is a three stop version So what it's going to do is it just length an exposure by three stops and that start to create some motion in my image So I'm going to pop this in now into the filter holder, take another picture and see what that looks like The exposure is now three times longer So it's gone from a 30th of a second to a 15th, to an eighth, to quarter of a second

And I'm just going to take another shot now (camera shutter) and look and review And although the exposure's longer, it's really not long enough to make any great difference to the look of the water in this shot

So what I'm going to do is actually take that three stop filter out and replace it with a more extreme version I'm going to go with a six stop filter to see if that creates the effect I want This is a six stop ND which LEE Filters call their Little Stopper And you'll probably notice on this one it's got a foam gasket which is designed to just seal the light when you put it into the filter holder to avoid any kind of light leakage So I'm just going to pop this in now

I'm going to put it into the very closest slot to ensure that it does seal the light Have a minute, I'm looking at live view And my camera can see through this filter and through the lens metering, will just adjust naturally And exposure time now has lengthened to a couple of seconds which should give me a much better effects on the water And hopefully now I'm going to start to see kind of a nice swirly pattern and effect on the water

And the effect of the filter's going to be much more obvious and much more creative So, I'm going to take a picture and see how it looks (camera shutter) To get a more extreme effect, I'm going to go for an even stronger ND filter now This is a 10 stop filter which LEE Filters call their Big Stopper and this is going to absorb 10 stops of light So it really is creating a very big shift in exposure between my unfiltered exposure and the one I'm going to take now

Now this is where it gets slightly more complicated With this density of filter, my through the lens metering in my camera will really struggle to metre for the scene correctly So what I need to do is look at my unfiltered exposure, which if you remember was a 30th of a second and then apply 10 stops worth of exposure on to that Now in order to do that, I'm going to actually use an app There's a number of apps that will allow you to calculate exposure but I'm going to use the LEE Filters one

So first now, I'm just going to pop this into the filter system Again, making sure it goes into the closest slot to seal the light And now I'm just going to have a look at the app I'm going to dial in the unfiltered exposure time of a 30th and that tells me that with this filter I need to expose for 30 seconds And in order to do that, I'm now going to take it out of aperture priority, put it into manual, I'm going to keep my ISO, an aperture exactly the same as before but just dial in an exposure length of 30 seconds

And having done that, hopefully my exposure should be pretty much spot on So, fingers crossed (camera shutter) Fantastic, look at that Something to be aware of when you take photographs using extreme NDs is that quite a few brands have some type of colour cast Often it can be a little bit blue, on the cold side or some brands it's quite warm

Don't worry about this too much You can often correct it in camera by changing your white balance But most photographers will simply just adjust their white balance in post processing to neutralise that colour cast There are some instances where actually the colour cast can look quite attractive You know, when an image looks a bit cooler or a bit warmer

So don't necessarily correct it Just use your indiscretion and process your shots on a shot by shot basis Long exposures are great fun and the effect can be very, very seductive But it is very important to remember that it won't enhance every shot So don't just use these filters for every scene

It's very important that you use them appropriately Having said hat, I really feel that the shot has been vastly improved by the length of exposure here It's transformed what is a fairly ordinary snap into really quite a nice creative, interesting image and I'm quite happy now I'm going to pack up and head somewhere else for the sunset Well sunset is disappointing

As you can see behind me it's a bit grey and a bit bland But even so, there's lots here to photograph, tonnes of action and I'm still going to need filters to make this shot as interesting as possible Now, looking at the tide coming in, again I'm going to use an ND filter to blur the water motion But the other thing I'm going to use here is an ND grad just to make sure the sky doesn't actually over expose So this is a graduated ND filter

And as you can hopefully see, it's half coated and half clear And the idea with a graduated filter is that it allows us to control contrast between brighter skies and darker foregrounds Contrast is one of the biggest issues landscape photographers face Typically skies are lighter than foreground and a lot of situations without filtration, the sky will either overexpose or the foreground will be underexposed And these filters are the only in-camera solution to deal with that contrast

Like solid ND filters, graduated filters come in a variety of different densities Typically one, two and three stop versions They also come with different feathered edge transitions Typically, they come in either soft, medium or hard transitions And as you can hopefully see from these two filters, basically what it means is the transition from dark to clear is either harder or softer

Now the reason for that is different landscapes have different types of horizons Typically for a scene like this behind me and most coastal images, your horizon is relatively straight and even And so a hard transition filter is perfect for that But in certain landscapes where the horizon is broken or uneven, a soft grad is much better And the reason for that is you don't want to pull the graduated zone down over key parts of the landscape

Because if you do, it's going to darken it and look artificial And so a soft grad is a much better filter in those instances because the transition just basically feathers in to the landscape The big question is, which density filter do you choose for different situations? How do you actually decide whether you're going to go for one, two or three stop filter? Well the technical way of doing that would be to take a metre reading from the sky which is typically lighter than foreground and then also metre reading from the foreground and compare those two readings So just to give you an example, if the metre reading from the sky was 500th of a second and the one from the foreground was a 30th, you would calculate the difference Now remember, a stop is a doubling or a halving of an exposure value

So let's do the calculation together From a 30th to 60th is one stop To 125th is two, 250th is three and to 500th is four stops So in that example, there's a four stop difference You don't want to even out the light completely though

So instead of applying say a three and a one stop filter together, you're much better to leave around a two stop difference between the foreground and the sky And that will produce a much more natural result Now in this instance, as you can see the sky is quite grey and the contrast isn't very great at all And possibly, in this instance I don't necessarily need a grad at all But actually the sky is lookin' a little bit light and washed out without a filter and I'm going to use a two stop filter just to darken the sky slightly

Bring out some of that lovely texture in the sky and make the shot look a bit more dramatic So you might be wondering why I favour using filters rather than taking a number of different exposures and blending them together to deal with a level of contrast Well quite simply, it's a matter time As a professional photographer, I really spend a lot of time in front of a screen and I want to try and minimise the amount of time I have to process my shots And filters allow me to create the results I want in-camera and then the amount of time that I have to dedicate to processing them is minimised

Landscape photographers often make the mistake of using graduated filters for every scene But it's only high-contrast images that you actually require a graduated filter And if you apply them incorrectly, you might find that your skies are either over graduated and too dark or your foregrounds are too light and bright and that will look artificial So, before putting your filter in, actually have a look at your histogram So whether you've got a live histogram on live view or whether you have to take an image and then review the result, have a look at the shape of that histogram and if you see that there's actually a dip in the mid-tones, so it's like a horseshoe effect that often is suggests that you either need to use a grad or that you need to use a stronger grad

So use the histogram to help guide your use of filtration Before I get swept away guys, I'm going to say goodbye I hope you've really enjoyed this tutorial today and that you've found it helpful Don't forget to subscribe to Nature TTL and I look forward to seeing you again very soon – [Announcer] Subscribe for more and don't forget to check the description for links to all the gear used in this video

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