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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Importance of Graduated Neutral Density Filters

When shooting landscape photography it is sometimes difficult to get both good detail in the sky and in the foreground. This is mostly due to the difference in light values between the sky and foreground. Since the sky is much brighter than the ground, the camera cannot fit the entire tonal range into the picture. To combat this we can use graduate neutral density filters to help. Look at the picture below, without a graduated neutral density filter (which makes only a portion of the scene darker), the sky would have been blown out or the ground would have been overly dark. Since I used a 3-stop (blocks 3 stops of light toward the top of the filter), and I laid the darker portion of the filter over the sky, the sky and foreground were much closer to each other in terms of light quantity. Because of this there is good detail in both the sky, foreground, and we have the added benefit of having the colors enhanced.

Caesar's Head State Park - South Carolina

My favorite system is the Cokin P System, it allows me to move the filter's at angles (great for sunset pictures), as well as stack multiple filters in front of my lens. I like these even more than polarizer's because they work at all angles to the sun, and in all lighting conditions. Remember these filter's are not going to magically help you take better pictures, but they can be a useful tool for someone that knows how to use them.


  1. hello! very good! im from brazil! bey!

  2. Absolutedly beautiful photo!!!