Choose and use filters to improve and enhance your landscape photographs
Text And Photography By Rod Barbee
ND Filters Rod Barbee'sND filters reduce the light reaching the film or sensor without altering the color of a scene. They usually come in one-stop increments from one to four or more stops, although they're rarely designated in stop increments. Instead, you'llsee a filter marked as ND 0.3, which means the filter reducesthe light by one stop. The table above will help you translate these designations.
You may also see filters marked as NDx4. This ND filter reduces light by two stops because it only allows one-quarter of thelight through; an NDx8 only allows one-eighth of the light through, resulting in a reduction of three stops.
With moderate ISO film and digital cameras with minimum ISO settings of 200, it can be difficult to achieve slow shutter speeds in bright light. This is a problem if you want to render the flow of a river with a slow shutter speed; but even a small aperture doesn't allow for a slow enough shutter speed.
ND filters become valuable anytime you want to blur the motion of water, clouds or flowers blowing in the wind. I find ND filters especially useful when photographing on the coast. With longer shutter speeds, you can blur the water over several seconds, creating an ethereal, mist-like effect. The reduction of light also dims the image within the viewfinder, so it's best to establish your composition before adding the filter.
The polarizer, graduated ND and ND filters can make a remarkable difference to your landscape images. Though Photoshop has become a great photographic tool, these filters offer you the abilityto capture scenes exactly the way you want within seconds. I enjoy working with Photoshop, but I use these filters regularly because I much prefer knowing that I got it right at the moment of capture.
To learn about Rod Barbee's upcoming workshops or to order his latest book, 88 Secrets to Wildlife Photography, visit www.barbeephoto.com.