Why lens filters are so cool (and you need 'em)

I had just set up for what I hoped was going to be great sunset photography when a nice couple approached and asked what kind of filter I was using while photographing in Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.

I explained to them that I was using a graduated ND filer. Clear on the bottom and gradually getting darker towards the top. I explained that it made the photo even as far as light was concerned, so you could balance the photograph. If you meter for the sky without one of these filters you will have a really dark foreground, in this case the canyon. If you try to get the canyon correctly exposed you will have a washed out sky, as you can see in the photo.

A 3 stop graduated neutral density filter makes a huge difference in your photos, and saves tons of time in post processing.

He caught on right away, but she could not grasp the concept so I let her borrow it to shoot a few frames, but it wasn’t making a very clear difference on her camera - she had many setting on automatic. So I took the filter and placed it over half of my lens and snapped the photo so she could see the dramatic effect the filter made. It was an “ah-ha!” moment for her, and she said she’d be ordering one when she got back home.

Another woman standing nearby with whom we’d had a running conversation with also commented that she had a full set of filters, but that she’d forgotten to put them in her camera bag. (I am guilty of that) But she added that she could easily get the same effect in her processing back home. After that brag, and without missing a beat, she quietly asked if she could borrow one of my graduated ND filters for a few frames. Smart lady!

Using one of these dramatically decreases the amount of time you need to post process your photos. Buy some filters and use ‘em.

This is just one of the subjects I cover in my workshops.

** I use Singh-Ray filters for all my photography. (I do NOT get any compensation or discounts for this endorsement)