Filters for Landscape Photography


There are only three lens filters that I use for Landscape Photography.

The first, and most used filter, is a graduated neutral density filter developed by Galen Rowell. It is a small plastic filter that has a dark neutral area at the top and gradually reduces from 2/f stops to zero by the center of the filter. This filter can be slipped into a holder over your lens or hand held. I use the hand held method as I can move the filter up and down to reduce the bright sky or water. You can also purchase these filter in a ring style, but I prefer the flat square style as it give me more options in the field. The advantage of this filter is that you can darken a bright sky so that you get more detail in the clouds that otherwise would be blown out. You can do the same thing with a body of water or a sandy beach. The neutral density part of filter has no affect on the colors. This filter can be used on a SLR or a Point & Shot camera with equal affect.

 crop0068 2

The second filter is an adjustable Polarized filter. It screws onto my SLR lens when I want to take the glare of the water so that you can see into the water. Because the one I use is adjustable, I can increase or decrease the amount of polarization as required at the time.  The rocks under the water below could not be seen without a polized filter.

 MG 6039 2 


A third filter I have found useful is an adjustable neutral density filter.  This is just like the first one filter described above, except this one screws on just like the polarized filter. You can change the strength (f stop) from a value 1 to 10, which allows you to take a longer time exposer.  Where this comes in handy is when you want to let things move such as branches of tree or flag in the wind, or in my case below, things on the surface of the water that is moving in a circle.  This image was shot just as the sun was coming up on this pool.  Therefore, the dark shadows in the water and on the rocks. Another 1/2 hour later and this whole area was flooded with light and it was not nearly as dramatic.

Bill LaFever MG 1611