Using Filters for Landscape Photography

Landscape photographers have an arsenal of different filters available to use to help them in their work. Different filters have different uses. There are two main types of filter systems, these are:

  • Round ‘screw on’ filters, which screw onto the front of the lens

  • Square ‘Slide in’ filters, which slide into a holder mounted to the lens

 Screw on filters come in sizes and need to match the thread of your lens. If you have several lenses with different thread sizes (Example Nikon 18-55 lens which has a 52mm thread and a Nikon 16-35 which has a 77mm thread), you will need a different filter for each of the lenses. With a slide in system, you only need to use the appropriate adapter ring to match your system to the lens, meaning you can use the same filters and holder on lenses of different sizes.

Graduated neutral density filters are used to darken the sky to help avoid it being over exposed if the rest of the frame is exposed correctly.

Solid neutral density filters on the other hand are used to darken the whole frame, this results in a need to keep the shutter open longer to ensure that more light can be captured by the cameras sensor, naturally giving the photographer the opportunity to shoot longer exposures, these can be used creatively to smooth water, clouds and anything else that moves in the frame.

Comparison between a Haida 3 Stop graduated neutral density filter (Left) and a Haida 2 stop graduated neutral density filter (Right).

Comparison between a Haida 3 Stop graduated neutral density filter (Left) and a Haida 2 stop graduated neutral density filter (Right).

Comparison between Haida neutral density filters. (From left to right) Haida 15 stop neutral density filter, Haida 10 stop neutral density filter, Haida 6 stop neutral density filter, Haida 3 stop neutral density filter.

Comparison between Haida neutral density filters. (From left to right) Haida 15 stop neutral density filter, Haida 10 stop neutral density filter, Haida 6 stop neutral density filter, Haida 3 stop neutral density filter.

Examples using a soft edge graduated neutral density filter

The image on the left is shot at 1/10 second, at ISO64 and F16; The Image on the right was shot with the same settings, but with a 3 stop soft edge graduated neutral density filter to darked the sky and avoid it being over exposed.

The image on the left is shot at 1/10 second, at ISO64 and F16; The Image on the right was shot with the same settings, but with a 3 stop soft edge graduated neutral density filter to darked the sky and avoid it being over exposed.

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Another example of using a graduated neutral density filter. The image on the left is shot at 1/2 second, at ISO64 and F11; The Image on the right was shot with the same settings, but with a 3 stop soft edge graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky and avoid it being over exposed.

2 shots of a pier in Lago di Garda; The image on the left was shot at 1/15 second, ISO64 at F16. The image on the right is a long exposure shot using a Haida 10 stop neutral density filter. The exposure details for this image is 120 seconds, ISO64 at F16

2 shots of a pier in Lago di Garda; The image on the left was shot at 1/15 second, ISO64 at F16. The image on the right is a long exposure shot using a Haida 10 stop neutral density filter. The exposure details for this image is 120 seconds, ISO64 at F16

Sunset at Vernazza - EXIF 0.5 of a second, ISO64 at F8

Sunset at Vernazza - EXIF 0.5 of a second, ISO64 at F8

Sunset at Vernazza - EXIF 240 seconds, ISO64 at F16

Sunset at Vernazza - EXIF 240 seconds, ISO64 at F16

A closeup to show the difference between the photo using the 10 stop neutral density filter (Left) and without the 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).

A closeup to show the difference between the photo using the 10 stop neutral density filter (Left) and without the 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).

Sunrise at Vernazza - EXIF 0.5 of a second, ISO64 at F8

Sunrise at Vernazza - EXIF 0.5 of a second, ISO64 at F8

Sunrise at Vernazza - EXIF 240 seconds, ISO64 at F16

Sunrise at Vernazza - EXIF 240 seconds, ISO64 at F16

A closeup to show the difference between the photo using the 10 stop neutral density filter (Left) and without the 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).

A closeup to show the difference between the photo using the 10 stop neutral density filter (Left) and without the 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).

Sunset at Lago di Garda showing the difference without any filter (Left) and with the Haida 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).

Sunset at Lago di Garda showing the difference without any filter (Left) and with the Haida 10 stop neutral density filter (Right).