Essential and Advanced Filters for Outdoor Photography

by matt on May 25, 2012

I shot this using Lee ND Grad Soft filters.

With today’s high tech digital cameras and the power of the digital darkroom in Photoshop one would think that old-school filters are a thing of the past.  Not true!  In fact having a good set of filters such as a polarizer and some ND grad filters will take your outdoor images from good to absolutely fantastic and provide effects that can’t be replicated in Photoshop.  That’s right, there are some things that can’t be replicated in Photoshop.

Today I received the Lee Big Stopper which is a 10 stop long exposure filter that I am really excited to play with.  To be able to extend my exposure times in broad daylight is going to open up a whole new world of creativity and I hope some amazing images.  I’ve seen some incredible images come from using something that looks like nothing more than a square of black glass.

I’ll be talking more about my use of filters in an upcoming post but if you want to learn today why filters are important and how you can put them to use in your outdoor photography then you need to check out this new eBook by Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou entitled “Essential and Advanced Filters for Creative Outdoor Photography.”  I just picked this eBook up today and it is exactly what I have been looking for to teach me how to use filters, why to use filters and when to use filters.

This book pretty much covers all the gory details of using filters like the Circular Polarizer, Neutral Density Graduated filters (ND Grad) and solid ND filters including the Lee Big Stopper and Singh-Ray Vari-ND filters.  They also talk a bit about creative filters like the Blue and Yellow Polarizer and Gold-N-Blue polarizer.  There is also a discussion on how to resolve color casts that your filters may impart upon your images.

Essential and Advanced Filters also gets into building your own filter system.  My filter system consists of the Lee Foundation Kit, a lens adapter to attach it to my 77mm diameter Canon 17-40 f/4 lens, a Lee Neutral Density Grad Soft Filter Set and now a Lee Big Stopper.  I also have circular polarizers to fit on each of my lenses.  This setup allows me to accept the larger 4X6 inch filters and even stack them as needed.

I purchase all my filters through The Filter Connection who I have found to have the ultimate customer service and best prices anywhere.  You won’t go wrong at The Filter Connection and I can’t recommend them enough.

You can pick up Essential and Advanced Filters for $10 right now and I can honestly say it’s the book on filters I have been looking for.  If you do pick it up I’d be interested in hearing your own thoughts on it and learn a bit about how you use filters in your own outdoor shooting.

Do you need photography filters?  If you are serious about shooting outdoor photography then yes, you need to consider using filters, at the very least a circular polarizer.  Yes, there is HDR but HDR can’t produce the effect that a good polarizer can and don’t you really want to get the image right in camera first and not have to sit behind the computer doing what can easily be done with filters?

I also wanted to mention that I am very excited to be launching my own greeting card line very soon featuring my photos.  I’ll be selling 5X7″ cards in sets of 10 with envelopes starting with a few of my most popular images and expanding the line from there.  I will be looking for a few people to provide feedback on the cards so if you are interested in checking samples out for free keep a lookout next week for more information.

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