A bit about hard and soft graduated neutral density filters!

One common issue I encounter when creating landscape, seascape, and nature photography is that the foreground and background light levels are several f-stops apart.  This makes it hard for the camera to record what our eyes see.  The reason is the digital chips in our cameras have limitations and cannot record the entire range of highlights and shadows.

Range of highlights and shadows is hard to capture

Range of highlights and shadows is hard to capture

Neutral Density filters are used to control the light coming through the camera to the chip.  There are numerous brands and types of filters but the idea is that the diffusion lowers the amount of light entering so that the chip can record it.

Sometimes it is appropriate to diffuse the entire scene and others just part of it.   A graduated neutral density filter only affects a portion of the image. For example when photographing a sunset at the beach you might find that the sky is 2 or 3 F-stops brighter than the beach. Using an equivalent strength filter with the diffusion in the right area will balance the exposure making it easier to record.

A hard graduated filter is best used in situations where the horizon line is definite like at the ocean.  A soft graduated neutral density filter is better for areas where the horizon line is less obvious, like when making photographs in the forest. The diffusion in the filter balances and allows the range of highlights and shadows to be recorded.

Using a 1 stop hard neutral density filter allowed me to bring the range of highlight and shadows more in balance

Using a 1 stop hard neutral density filter allowed me to bring the range of highlight and shadows more in balance

The image created in Iao Valley stream used a 2 stop graduated hard neutral density filter. The stream created an obvious horizon line.

 

 

using filters in the middle of the day

using filters in the middle of the day

In the bamboo forest a one stop soft graduated neutral density filter was used to manage the additional light coming through the tops of the trees.

soft grad filter helps manage light filtering through the top of image.

soft grad filter helps manage light filtering through the top of image.

003_Bamboo Forest_1.1

 

 

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About Doug Hoffman

Portrait and underwater fine art photographer.
This entry was posted in Decor, emotion, guided photo tours, guided photography tours, guided photogrpahy adventures, Island scenic, landscape photography, maui, maui photo safari, maui photo tour, maui photography workshop, Nature Photography, photography workshops, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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