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Thread: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    This season in South Florida ,my plans are to attempt some more serious landscape/seascape work with my Leica S system . I have easy access to some terrific shooting locations ,Juno Beach Pier,Everglades,Keys etc .

    I have very little background in using filters for landscape with the exception of CIR POL to darken the sky . Quite a lot of experience with LR has allowed me to “skate by” without learning much about ND filters or alternatives .

    I do try to shoot in the “blue period” dawn and the “golden hours” at dusk ....not too concerned about cutting exposures mid day .

    Would be interested in the perspective from the many experts here that have “tried everything” ...what seems to work or not .

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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    big stopper + little stopper
    0.3, 0.6, 0.9 hard edge nd and also the soft edge nd
    110mm lee polarizer
    81a

    ....are in my kit
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    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    I recommend visiting the LEE Filters Video Library to see ND, Polarizers and other filters in action. Some of the better known landscape photographers (Joe Cornish, Steve Gosling, more) show you what filters they use and how they use them. Joe Cornish has always been an inspiration for me.

    Kind regards,
    Darr
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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Thanks for the insights provided.

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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    I am pretty serious about landscape photography and I don't use any filters. I find that using them tends to make it more difficult to reproduce a natural looking scene. With the latitude of the S2 and S cameras, I don't think it is generally necessary to have any special filters to achieve a full range image. Of course, this is just my take. Many other landscape photographers do use filters for their work. It would also depend a lot on your intended market. The art world is generally more in favor of quite natural and subdued processing, while stock, postcard/calendar/tourism and commercial photography tends to skew more towards heavily processed or otherwise enhanced imagery. Of course, there are many exceptions in both categories, but broadly it is true.
    If you do decide to go in for filters, start slow...like any processing or production technique, it is always easier to add an effect than it is to remove it.
    To start off, it probably makes sense to have a circular polarizer, a multi-stop ND filter and a gradual ND filter. Many of the other filters can be reproduced more effectively in post.
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    Senior Member Dogs857's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Polariser. It is something you can't replicate in post and is useful for so much more than just darkening the sky. It is great for foliage and for removing reflections from water etc. One of the most used filters in my bag.

    Hard and soft Grad ND's are pretty handy as well depending on what camera you are using. Some cameras may be able to do without, but I tend to use them quite regularly. You can get special grads for sunsets/rises but I have not tried these. Get 1-2-3 stops.

    I also have a full range of ND filters. 1-2-3-4-5-10 stop which lets me make up any combination to get the look I am after.

    I use Lee for the polariser and grads and Formatt Hightech for my ND filters.
    Last edited by Dogs857; 5th January 2015 at 21:54. Reason: spelling
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    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Quote Originally Posted by darr View Post
    I recommend visiting the LEE Filters Video Library to see ND, Polarizers and other filters in action. Some of the better known landscape photographers Darr
    +1

    Also, if you know anyone that has any of these filters, try them out to see what appeals to your photographic style. In the end, the filters are slightly expensive but they are also worth it if they enhance how you shoot.
    Bryan

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” — Ansel Adams

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    Member AreBee's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Roger,

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    ...my plans are to attempt some more serious landscape/seascape work...
    For seascapes you may find a reverse graduated filter handy, although watch out for flare when shooting into the sun with the filter in front of the lens (of course this applies to any filter). Singh-Ray sells them.

    Your polariser will come into its own for seascapes because colours already close to complementary will be saturated, it will make clouds pop, cut glare from the surface of water allowing marine detail and colour to be seen beneath. However, take care to not overdo the effect, and watch out for banding of the sky which will be increasingly visible with focal lengths wider than approximately 24mm (35mm equivalent). Note that this last point is irrelevant when shooting in a forest, for example).

    Singh-Ray sells a Gold and Blue polariser, which some love and others hate.

    LR has allowed me to “skate by” without learning much about ND filters or alternatives.
    Nothing wrong with that. In fact, unless you are particularly keen on making as much of the photo at the time of capture, thereby reducing the amount of post processing, there is a strong argument for applying filters digitally: it will save you financial expense; you will have no issue with subject matter passing through the transition of a graduated filter; you will reduce the risk of flare when shooting into the sun with a filter in front of the lens; and a mistake is easily remedied without risk of ruining the photo.

    If you do decide to purchase graduated filters I recommend a 2-stop soft or 2-stop hard, and between the two, the former before the latter. Why 2-stop? Because except in extreme circumstances, the dynamic range of your S is unlikely to be 3-stops short of the scene requirements, and because a 1-stop filter hardly seems worthwhile - the image will not be ruined if you expose for the highlights and have the shadows blocked up a touch.

    For seascapes, and likely to a lesser extent landscapes, a neutral density (i.e. not graduated) filter will help increase exposure time, which of course will 'smooth' wave action or return the classic silky smooth waterfall effect. With landscape, clouds will be softly smeared. When looking to achieve any of these effects, it may be worthwhile purchasing a variable neutral density filter instead of of one or more x-stop filters, because the shutter speed required to achieve the effect you are after will vary as a function of the light intensity...and a variable ND can accomodate that conveniently in a single filter.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by AreBee; 12th January 2015 at 08:33.
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    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Big stopper, Polariser, hard and soft grad Lee ND's

    Basic useful kit.
    Chris Giles Photography

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    Senior Member Dogs857's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    I would agree that grads are not necessarily needed with today's sensors. So long as you protect your highlights it can be made up in post. I like to use them through habit.

    Polariser is your must have, then ND's if you want to play with long exposures. If you get a Lee system it will cover all your lenses, you just need the adaptor for different filter sizes. It's a big expense in the beginning but well worth it in the long run, especially if you end up expanding your kit.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    If I have the time, I do like to use filters. Sometimes it's more about the process of the photography and getting as much as you can get done in camera----than what you can do in post-processing. And that process can be very enjoyable when you have the time! And when you have the time, invariably you'll be able to make captures both with and without filters and see what works best later in post processing.

    Lee Big Stopper
    Singh Ray 4 stop
    Singh Ray reverse neutral grad
    Singh Ray LB warming polarizer
    and a few neutral graduated filters

    ken

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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    Basically? None.

    The only filter I have been using is a 6-stop ND filter, but I would stop using that if my camera could be set to ISO1

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    Senior Member johnnygoesdigital's Avatar
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    Re: Filters for Serous Landscape Work

    I highly recommend a 10 stop ND for long exposures. Lee makes the best, IMO, and you'll need the holder too. Being so close to water and the consistent, dramatic Florida skies in the late afternoon you'll do well with a 10 stop ND such as the big stopper. No over processing needed, but a gentle tweak of luminance levels scan sometimes darken skies. Flares are a concern whether the sun is behind or in front and remember to close optical viewfinders when shooting long exposures.

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