Despite unstoppable technological progress, our camera is still not yet able to see like our eyes. This is especially true when it comes to dynamic range.
Surely, we all remember the disappointment of our first sunset photo. Our eyes saw a magic moment but the pictures we took are a white ball with black all around it.
At first, we might be quite happy with the idea of the silhouette, but soon we wanted something more. Fortunately today, there are several techniques to help our camera to see as we do. And the use of filters is just one of them.
Here, we give you 3 Filters You’ll Ever Need In Landscape Photography.
Filters to Improve Your Landscape Photographs
Filters come in different types. You can choose from slot-in or screw-on, which are both helpful. The best then depends on which of these two are you more comfortable with to use.
But among the many filters in the market, there might be just 3 lens filters you’ll need in landscape photography. And here they are:
1. Polarizing Filter
A polarizing filter is a must-have tool for landscape photography. It is typically the first filter landscape photographers buy. They instantly improve their pictures and add vividness and contrast to them.
A polarizer can reduce reflections from objects such as water and glass. It can also be used to darken the sky, bring out the clouds and even reduce atmospheric haze. These techniques make the scene look much more vivid.
For all normal lenses that have a filter thread in the front, you can get a circular polarizing filter or “circular polarizer”.
A circular polarizer is very easy to use. Once you attach it on the front of your lens, all you need to do is rotate it clockwise or counter-clockwise to get a different amount of polarization. Polarizing filters work by blocking certain light waves from entering the lens.
Rotating a polarizer allows certain types of light waves to pass through while blocking other ranges of light waves. Thus, you could turn a sky from light blue to very dark blue or increase/decrease reflections.
The effect of polarization cannot be reproduced or simulated in post-processing, especially when dealing with natural reflections.
2. Neutral Density Filter
You have probably already seen images of running water and waterfalls that look very smooth and dreamy or sometimes, foggy. This look can only be accomplished when your camera is mounted on a tripod and the shutter speed is very slow.
In daylight conditions, decreasing ISO and increasing the F-number does not typically lower the shutter speed enough. The only solution in those situations is to decrease the amount of light that enters the lens and that’s where a neutral density filter comes into play.
Neutral density filters reduce the amount of light that enters the camera lens and thus decrease the shutter speed and increase exposure time. The effect of a neutral density filter cannot be reproduced in post-processing like a polarizing filter.
There are many different types of neutral density filters. Some transmit less light than others, defined in F stops.
3. Graduated Neutral Density Filter
Graduated neutral density filters are necessary for those situations, where the sky is much brighter than the foreground/background. Most graduated neutral density filters are made in a rectangular shape because the size of the sky versus the foreground/background can change depending on the composition.
Therefore, these filters must be either used with a filter holder system or must be held by hand in front of a lens. The advantage of using a filter holder is that you can stack multiple filters and you do not have to worry about alignment issues. The disadvantage of using a filter holder is that it can add vignetting, so you have to be careful when using wide-angle lenses with focal lengths below 35mm.
Overall, the possibilities on filters are almost endless. But after having to use them all, you’ll find that just a few of them are needed to enhance your photography significantly.
At the beginning using filters may seem complicated, but with time it will become as natural as setting the correct shutter speed and aperture in your camera.
As always, our main piece of advice is: have fun and gain experience in the field, perhaps with someone who can help you to get started in this wonderful world!
Shop some good filters on Taming Light Photography today to level up your landscape photography!