Filters In The Digital Age

Posted in Landscape on April 12, 2009 by rossmurphy

Lake Louise, Canon 5d, 14-40 f4 L

Image: Lake Louise, Banff NP, Canon 5d,17-40 f4 L at 17 mm, 3 stop GND filter

Filters are still required in the digital age of photography, not as much as they where in the film days, but in order to get proper exposure on a lanscape that has a very wide dynamic range or to remove reflections from water, we still resort to using filters.

The main filter system in my bag is the Lee Graduated Nuetral Density filter or GND for short. The main task of these filters is to reduce the amount of light contacting the camera sensor while still being able to use the lens aperture you need. Graduated filters, as the name implies, start the transition from the center of the filter and graduate to the edge in varying degrees, measured in stops.

The top photo is an example of where a GND filter is needed, if a filter was not used and you where to meter on the sky the land would be under exposed or if you metered on the land the sky would have been over exposed, in this image a 3 stop filter was used to even out the overall exposure. The filters I use are made by Lee and Singh-Ray I use the foundation kit with 4 x 6 filters, for wide angle I use there special wide angle hood with one filter slot. I carry a 1, 2 and 3 stop GND a 3 stop reverse GND and an 8 stop variable ND. The reverse filter is for shots like a sunset or sunrise where the brightest part of the image is closer to the middle of the image. The variable ND is a great filter for shooting seascapes, this is a filter that I talked about in my previous blog.
Circular Polarizer: The CPL is another filter that is still required for reducing reflections and a good quality filter should be used to prevent color cast’s. B + W is my choice, I use the slim 77mm and reducing rings when needed. These filters also increase the color saturation of trees and blue skys and add contrast to clouds, there should be one in every photographers bag. A word of caution on CPL and wide angle landscapes, if you have a lot of blue sky the CPL will only cover part of the sky and you will end up with un-even polarization that will ruin your image.

Image: 40D, 24-105 f4 L IS, 3 stop GND filter.

Ross Murphy Images In Light

Variable Neutral Density Filters

Posted in Landscape on April 9, 2009 by rossmurphy

God Rays

Image: 5D, 24-105 f4 L IS, Variable ND Filter, 23s  exposure at f 11.

Adding artistic impression to images with long exposure is easy to do with a little experimentation and the right equipment. To smooth out water or slow it down, you need to reduce the amount of light reaching the camera sensor, a quick and easy way to do this is by adding a neutral density filter, the most versatile that I have found is the Variable ND filter made by Singh Ray it allows for 8 stops reduction in light far more than using a CPL or other type of ND filter, it takes a little bit of experimentation, but it can be a lot of fun. Results can mean images for beyond your expectations. The use of a sturdy tripod is a must.


Image: 40D, 24-105 f4 L IS, Variable ND Filter, 12s  exposure at f 11.

Ross Murphy

Images In Light