Make ef­fec­tive use of fil­ters

Learn how fil­tra­tion can add ex­tra punch to your seascapes

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Tech­ni­cal fil­ters com­prise po­laris­ers and neu­tral den­sity grad­u­ated fil­ters (‘grads’). Po­laris­ers re­duce re­flec­tions from non-me­tal­lic sur­faces and are an ex­cel­lent tool for seascape pho­tog­ra­phy, as they cut through dis­tract­ing glare on the sur­face of the sea and wet rocks, restor­ing the nat­u­ral colour sat­u­ra­tion of the scene.

Grads con­trol con­trast and pre­vent bright skies from over­ex­pos­ing. ‘Hard’ tran­si­tion grads are the most use­ful for seascapes, which tend to have level hori­zons. How­ever, when the hori­zon is bro­ken (by a cliff, for ex­am­ple) ‘soft’ grads give a more nat­u­ral re­sult. ‘Re­verse’ grads – which are strong­est at the tran­si­tion zone and then fade grad­u­ally to­wards the top of the fil­ter – are use­ful at sun­rise and sun­set, where the bright­est part of the scene is on the hori­zon.

Neu­tral den­sity fil­ters are mostly used for creative ef­fect. They al­low ex­tended shut­ter speeds and have den­si­ties avail­able from one stop to 15 or more. Ex­po­sures of a few sec­onds will blur the mo­tion of waves while main­tain­ing the tex­ture of the wa­ter, ex­po­sures of 15 to 30 sec­onds will ren­der the waves with a misty ap­pear­ance and ex­po­sures of a minute or more can smooth the sea com­pletely, giv­ing it a glassy sur­face.

Right above Con­trol­ling con­trast

grad­u­ated fil­ters darken bright skies and pre­vent them from over­ex­pos­ing. ‘Re­verse’ grads are use­ful for

sun­rise and sun­set shots, when the bright­est part of the

scene is the hori­zon

Right Neu­tral den­sity fil­ters

ex­treme long ex­po­sures aren’t al­ways nec­es­sary; here a three­stop nD fil­ter gen­er­ated an ex­po­sure time of four sec­onds,

blur­ring the mo­tion but still keep­ing some tex­ture in

the wa­ter

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