The use of Graduated ND filters in Landscape Photography.

Graduated ND filters, ND grads, (or GND’s as I’ll call them for the benfit of this blog post), a great subject to stir up a discussion…

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They serve one purpose, to darken one area of the image being taken, leaving the rest of the image untouched, 99% of the time this is the sky, as it’s 2-3 stops brighter than the land, they come in different strengths allowing you to darken the area by however much you need to stop it being too bright and becoming ‘blown out’ , giving you an overall balanced image. A brilliant bit of kit, but….

There are those who say they simply aren’t needed anymore with the advent of digital, you can apply GND’s in camera RAW, or you can bracket your images and blend them later on using numerous methods, taking darker exposures as required for the sky to again avoid it becoming blown out, and while I 100% agree that this does work perfectly well, and occasionally I’ll use these options if the need arises, but I’ll tell why I prefer to use them over the digital method. I talked a little about this in Birmingham, at the NEC Photography Show, a lot of people were interested in the angle I was coming from and said they hadn’t thought about it like that before, so I thought I’d write a blog post on it.

There are a few reasons why I choose to use GND’s.

  1. Long Exposure Photography, (hypothetical scene) let’s say you are shooting a long exposure seascape for instance. You get your 10 stop filter on and you shoot the scene without a GND, you calculate an exposure time of 30 seconds and take your shot. In your shot the sky isn’t blown out but it’s at the limit on the right histogram of how far you can go before the sky starts to blow out., but the water in the sea doesn’t look right, it needs longer to smooth it right out. Now from this point you could easily take a few expsoures exposing the sea for longer and blend them later on, the one thing you cannot do is expose the sky for longer than 30 seconds as it will blow out, no matter what you do this IS going to happen. But what if I add a GND in PP later? sure it may recover some of the blown out area but why risk that? also if you ever seen a long exposure image with moving clouds dragging right across the scene you will know how beautiful they can be, and unless the clouds are moving very fast 30 seconds is not going to give you a lot of movement so the image will lack that ‘movement’ feel to it, The solution ? you will need to lengthen the entire exposure, doubling or maybe tripling the expsoure time to get those clouds moving right through the scene. This is only acheivable by by adding a GND, unless you’re happy to just fake it in PS later, which I’m not.

2. Less time in post production - why spend more time on an image than you have to, wrestling with a sky to get it back down to what it could already be in camera can be time consuming and in my opinion can also look poor if not done correctly, get it right in camera.

3. Envisaging your final scene in the field - going back to number 1 a little, you’ve shot your scene with your GND on, you’ve pushed the image as far as it can go you can now preview your shot image, lets say you now have beautful cloud movement, brilliant, you can see the preview of this now balanced exposure and how the clouds will look in each image, by blending images later or shooting images that will need digital expsoure adjustments later on in PP you miss this stage, so you really don’t know if you have come away with a great image until you get home, and if you’re at the other side of the world, or even a few hours drive away when you find out you’ve fluffed your shot when you had the chance, if you care, that’s going to really hurt!

These are obviously only my thoughts on the matter but I wanted to share my views on it since people were interested on my take on it. There’s nothing worse than knowing you ‘could’ have had that image !



Ambassador for NiSi and Fotopro UK

Really pleased to announce that from today I will be a UK brand ambassador for NiSi Filters, and also a UK ambassador for Fotopro tripods, many thanks to Mark Andreas Jones for inviting me to be part of the team, really looking forward to working with you.

Here’s the link to the webpage - https://www.markandreasjones.com/pete-rowbottom-ambassador?fbclid=IwAR0osbtYLEIx9JA-RdXTcFtwNCfMBFOaJA_xxqBNaMTkyba6oXIR6utRwJo

Here's an image I took using the Fotopro TL-64CL,LG-7R ball head. And Nisi S5 150mm system in Iceland.


Nikon D810 14-24 f/2.8, Nisi S5 150mm system, Fotopro TL-64CL,LG-7R ball head

Nikon D810 14-24 f/2.8, Nisi S5 150mm system, Fotopro TL-64CL,LG-7R ball head



Nikon D810 14-24 f/2.8, Nisi S5 150mm system, Fotopro TL-64CL,LG-7R ball head

Nikon D810 14-24 f/2.8, Nisi S5 150mm system, Fotopro TL-64CL,LG-7R ball head

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Dinorwic Slate Quarry, Snowdonia

This one has been a while coming… I’ve wanted to visit all the buildings here for quite some time and on my last 2 visits I spent that much time taking pictures and generally exploring a smaller area of the quarry that the main bits that I wanted to visit I didn’t get to, (also because I couldn’t find them, or at least a way to get to them)

Opportunity arose for a 3 day visit to the area for Landscape Photography and again I planned another visit to the quarry, this time armed with a fantastic few pages of information provided to me by Mike Innes on FlickR, a regular explorer of Dinorwic and very helpful guy - https://www.flickr.com/photos/pentlandpirate/

For anyone who has been you’ll know the vast nature of the place, for anyone who hasn’t, basically it is enormous. To put the place into perspective, when it was open It was the second largest slate quarry in Wales, and indeed in the world. It remains the same size but closed down and abandoned. It closed in December 1969 after a downturn in demand for slate, ever since it has been sat dormant, deteriorating year after year, there have been a lot of collapses but there is still a lot to see.

The main purpose of the latest visit was to find the old cutting sheds on the ‘Australia’ levels, the other buildings still fitted out with heavy machinery, and the ‘Caban’ (or Cabin) which still contains the Miners’ old work boots and clothes. I managed to finally find all these on what turned out to be a 6 1/2 hour circular walk, some very hard going but well worth it.

It’s a true photographers paradise, with great compositions to be found literally everywhere around the site, it also has the added bonus of looking great in poor weather, when low cloud and mist can often feature, and the wet slate takes on new colour and drama.

The images are from a number of visits, if you want any further info get in touch.

Hazy days can work well

Hazy days can work well



Old truck lifts

Old truck lifts

Old cable winding drums under the rails here

Old cable winding drums under the rails here

Long forgotten rusty truck

Long forgotten rusty truck

Truck outside an old repair house

Truck outside an old repair house

Window on Dinorwic

Window on Dinorwic

Cutting sheds

Cutting sheds

Cutting sheds

Cutting sheds

Pipes 2048.jpg
Manufactured in Broadheath, Manchester

Manufactured in Broadheath, Manchester

More heavy machinery

More heavy machinery

Stateside machinery

Stateside machinery

‘The Caban’

‘The Caban’

Old Miners Shoes still in situ

Old Miners Shoes still in situ

Flooded tunnel on the higher level

Flooded tunnel on the higher level

Steadfast

Steadfast

Rock Face

Rock Face

Ledges

Ledges

A burst of colour

A burst of colour

Grandeur

Grandeur

Tucked away

Tucked away

Vast

Vast

saw no more…

saw no more…

ruined

ruined

Reclaimed

Reclaimed

©peterowbottom2018/9