Graduated ND Filter.


 Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

One piece of equipment that any nature photographer needs is a good set of ND filters, and specifically a graduated ND filter. ND stands for Nutral Density and it stops down the intencety of the light without much change in color. Most people have seen circular ND filters that screw onto the front of your lense that are one solid tint. The graduated version goes from ND tint to clear glass in a smooth soft transition. Pictured you will see a camera with a filter frame and filters installed. I prefer this style filter over the circular style for a few reasons. The first being you can easily ad more than one filter to the frame. Second the frame allows you to slide the filter in any direction in or out of frame so you can more precisely put your gradient portion of the filter where you need it. A circular graduated filter will blend in the middle of the shot every shot. So I find you set the shot up for the filter instead of filtering for the shot you want.  

 Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

When do I use a Graduated ND Filter? This is used when there is a portion of you shot that is to bright to keep the rest of the image properly exposed. Example sunsets are one place I almost always use my GND filter. The foreground is in shadow because the sun is directly behind it, if you have ever taken a picture of a sunset you know that most everything in the foreground of the shot will be total black and the sky will be properly exposed or the foreground will be properly exposed and the sky will be total white and lack color (clipping). Using a GND filter you can place the gradient portion of the filter just below the horizon line then meter for exposure. Your capture will be more evenly exposed, you will get the great colors from the sky and still have foreground to tell a story.  

This filter also works great when in the woods, canopied trees darken the forest floor sometimes you will get hot spots from breaks in the tree cover. It also works great for high temp reflections off of water. There are many uses for this style filter. The cost will very wildly depending on quality, but you can pick up a descent set for around $80 US, and if you take proper care of them they will last you a very long time. 

Now Get Out There!