Most of you all know about Graduated Neutral Density Filters. I for one, find them to be indispensable, even when shooting with a digital camera. (more info on how to use them here)
They are used balance the exposure within a scene – typically between the bright sky and dark foreground…(as in the Photo above of Peanut Lake)
One of the arguments against them is that you can accomplish this at home with your favorite editing software; create 2 exposures, one exposing for the ground, one exposing for the sky, combine them, and done.
That may be true, but one of the most unknown and biggest benefits of ND Grads is the ability to uncover contours, form, and shape in clouds. When you slide a ND grad down in front of your lens, the clouds and sky are darkened, and you are able to see these elements much easier. If you don’t use a grad in the field, it is much more difficult to discern these shapes, let alone try and find something in the foreground to mimic or compliment these contours, colors, and forms.
There are many factors that go into creating a great photograph. One of the most important techniques (that is often overlooked) is to create “Visual Relationships” within the frame. I believe if you can mimic or echo 1 or more of the following: shape, tonalities, form, or colors, you will create stronger compositions…this all becomes much easier with these fantastic little filters.
Below are some examples, rollover the images with your mouse or tap on the image to see some of the relationships reveled.
Shape, Color (complimentary), Tonality:
Shape, Tonality, Color (similar)
Shape, Color (similar):
Next time you are out shooting, try thinking in terms of creating Visual Relationships, and I guarantee you will create stronger compositions.
The best filters on the market are Lee Filters