My discovery of filters and their uses has increased my enjoyment of photography immeasurably. Some ND grads were recommended to me for use on skies as an alternative to using HDR. These filters are grey and have no colour cast (the ND stands for Neutral Density) and they stop a certain amount of light entering the lens – the “grad” bit refers to the fact that they are graduated, so part of the filter is clear and lets all the light pass through, but some of it is dark and lets less light pass through. Basically they allow you to make the sky less bright, which allows more detail to be captured elsewhere in the photo, such as the ground.
The shot above, which was taken in Watermead Park, Birstall, was taken with a combination of Cokin ND4 grad (P121M Grad Neutral Grey Medium) and Kood Green filters. (The Kood filters are much cheaper than the Cokin ones and possibly there is a difference in quality, but as I’m just an amateur and trying these things out for the first time I’m not overly worried at this stage – besides I get 3 Kood filters for the price of the Cokin Light Tobacco filter that I was about to buy for £30)
The green filter is really for use in Black & White photography but I find its effect can be pleasing in colour if a red tint is added in post production to calm the green down a bit. Obviously it’s possible to alter the all the different colour levels in Photoshop to get the same or similar effect, but for some reason I don’t find it as enjoyable. Using them on the camera also seems to help me with ideas – I’m actually looking at contrast and texture more than colour and am divorced from the beauty of the scene.
This was how the image looked when it came from the camera – it’s a bit “green” but it allowed me to see how the final image would work.
The image below shows the importance of waiting at a spot for a few minutes – when I arrived there was a breeze and no pleasant reflection in the water :)