Monday, July 9, 2012

Graduated Neutral Density Filters: A Landscape Photographer's Secret

Last week we gave an overview of neutral density filters, but today's focus will be graduated neutraldensity filters –which are actually different from their relatives. As the title of the post suggests, they are an essential addition for landscape photographers. Our eyes naturally adjust to varying brightness levels, but a camera captures the scene with the same exposure, causing bright and dark regions to be null of detail and/or washed out. With a GND filter the camera can capture the photo how we see it.

The effect is achieved by pushing more light toward one side of the filter. It is ideal when brightness uniformly changes in one direction, such as a horizon. The wider the angle of view, the more enhanced the picture. They are called graduated because they have a graduated blend. The blend goes from clear to neutral gray, and the density of gray increases, blocking more light.

GND filters are categorized by their strength and rate of transition. The strength refers to the difference between how much light is reduced at one side compared to the other. Transition refers to the rate at which the darkest side of the filter transitions into the clear side.  

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