How to Choose the Right Landscape Photography Filter

Are you the type of landscape photographer who prefers soft, flowing long exposures? Do you use filters? Professional landscape photographer Brent Mail shoots the same scene using three different filters and compares the images. It all depends on your style and what you like, but the tips given in this video might help you figure which filters you need for your landscape photos:

Mail shows us what the same scene looks like shooting with different landscape photography filters:

  • Circular Polarizing filter
  • 3 Stop Neutral Density filter
  • 10 Stop ND filter

All images are shot at f/16 at the same focal length. First, Mail photographs the landscape without any filters. He sets the camera to Aperture Priority mode.

landscape photo no filter

No Filter

The sky is a little overexposed here and the whole scene looks a bit dull.

Circular Polarizing Filter

Next, Mail attaches a circular polarizing filter, which takes out the glare in the water and sky.

circular polarizing filter

Circular Polarizing Filter

The colors are much more vibrant than the image with no filter.

3 Stop Neutral Density Filter

Here, Mail uses a 3 Stop Neutral Density Filter with one second shutter speed to darken the image. This works great to capture the slow movement of the water and details when the waves hit the rocks.

3 stop neutral density filter

3 Stop ND Filter

10 Stop Neutral Density Filter

Since this filter is so dark, you need to use a very long shutter speed. This really slows down the water and cloud movement. First, you’ll need to switch to manual focus because it’s too dark to see anything to auto focus, and manual mode so you can get a long enough shutter speed.

Mail uses the 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter with a 30 second shutter speed.

10 stop neutral density filter

10 Stop ND Filter

Isn’t it amazing how much a landscape filter can change the way the scene looks? These three filters can make a big impact on your landscapes photos, you just need to decide which look you like best. Or maybe, change them up a bit and keep trying new things.

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