There are many factors that contribute to great Landscape Photography. Location and subject might be the most important, but the light that is available and how you use that light is crucial as well. Landscape Photography is a difficult art form for many reasons and being able to use existing light to your advantage is one of the big ones. The very thing that can make Landscape Photography interesting in the first place is the stark contrast between the sky and ground. This element that creates beautiful subjects can be very difficult to tame. Often times the contrast between sky and earth is so drastic that they require separate metering.
With todays photo editing software many people opt to fix this problem post production. The truth is that some of photography’s oldest technology could and should fix this at the time of shooting. I’m talking about photo filters for Landscape Photography.
Todays computer technology has come so far and by all means we should use these tools to their truest capabilities. But like most digital production, the better it goes in, the better it comes out. Meaning, you want to get it right first and rely on post production as little as possible. For this reason every Landscape Photographer should always carry at least three filters at all times.
Circular Polarizer Filter:
One of the must have filters is a circular polarizer. The circular polarizer will bring out the color in your image and make all the various components stand out. It will make the clouds in the sky come alive and colors in your landscape more vibrant. The lens is adjustable, just rotate and the level of contrast will increase or decrease. The Circular Polarizing Filter is a must have for all landscape photographers as it is also great for diminishing glare, reflections and lens flare.
Neutral Density Filter:
An ND or Neutral Density Filter is used to control the amount of light that comes in through the lens of the camera. This comes in handy for many shots. Often times it is necessary to limit light through the lens while adjusting aperture and shutter speed to achieve a desired effect. The ND filter limits the amount of light without affecting color. ND filters come in different degrees of transparencies and can even be stacked to decrease light to the desired amount.
Using a Graduated filter in Landscape Photography can be a great effect. A graduated filter is a combination filter that has a smooth transition between sides. Graduated filters come in many different combinations, half could be an ND filter and the other half normal which could come in handy for some Landscape shots where the lighting conditions are very difficult. Using different combinations of graduated filters can help create dynamic shots and overcome some very difficult lighting situations.
Keeping these 3 types of filter in your camera bag will help prepare you for many difficult Landscape Photography shots. There are a lot of post editing tricks possible to handle many lighting situations, but it’s always better to get it right the first time. Having these lens filters will give you a much better chance of that, getting it right the first time.