The Advantages of Using a Graduated Neutral Density Filter in Landscape Photography

Getting exposure correct when shooting in high contrast situations—such as landscapes with bright skies and dark foregrounds—is a challenge. In the video below, Bryan Peterson explores the advantages of using a graduated neutral density filter and how to use this tool to amp up your landscape images:

Neutral density filters offer several advantages to photographers:

  1. They allow for slower shutter speeds even in bright daylight.
  2. They permit the use of wider apertures, which result in shallow depth of field.
  3. They bring out the color in otherwise washed out parts of an image.

In the image below, we see the difference the filter can make. Without making the foreground of the image too dark, the neutral density filter stops down the sky, giving it a correct exposure.

graduated-filters-before-after-1

Using a 3-stop graduated neutral density filter turns this photo from flat to vibrant.

The top of the filter brings the exposure down three stops and gradually fades the further down the filter you go. This section of your photograph that is stopped down is controlled simply by rotating the filter around as needed. You can hold the square filters in place or use a holder that mounts to your lens.

Graduated neutral density filters are a simple solution to frustrating, high-contrast lighting conditions.

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