Why Filters are Important for Landscape Photography
Do you ever wonder why filters are important for landscape photography?
The short answer is they help bring out the natural light in a scene.
When taking landscape photos, natural light isn’t always good so we recommend adding filters to your travel photography gear.
Keep reading to find out more about learning to assess the quality of natural light in the landscape scene, and and how it can be improved using filters.
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USING FILTERS FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY CAN BE FRUSTRATING
I’ll be honest, my attitude toward filters has not been positive. I use neutral density filters because of my passion for photographing waterfalls and rivers. I had tried circular polarizing filters before and not been sold on their usefulness.
My big issues with using filters for landscape photography:
High quality filters are expensive.
Maintaining the quality of the images I produced required investing in quality glass on my lenses. High quality filters are expensive. But putting a lower quality filter in front of the high quality glass of a lens is not advisable.
Filter quality affects image quality.
I tried filters that were not cheap, but affordable, only to find that my image quality was suffering. I learned that only the high quality filters would maintain the quality and sharpness that I like in my photos.
There are so many filter sizes.
Lenses have different filter sizes. Three lenses I use for photographing landscapes have different filter sizes, requiring that I purchase a filter for each lens.
Screwing filters on and off becomes annoying.
When I shoot moving water, I like to use different stop levels in order to accomplish different effects. Changing from a 6 stop filter to a 10 stop filter required removing one filter and applying the other. Maybe I’m a bit of a fumble fingers, but threading filters on and off my lens aggravated me at times.
I found myself disenchanted with filter use. I only used them when shooting moving water.
Instead of using filters, I planned my photography outings in areas and times that allowed me to accomplish much of my goals during the best light. But, I found this method too limiting for taking landscape photos.
WHY KASE FILTERS ARE BEST FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
I discovered the Kase Magnetic Filter System at a time when I was considering solutions to my struggles about filter use. The magnetic system sounded intriguing so I bought the kit and adapters to give it a try.
After using the system in various settings I am completely sold on the Kase System for the following reasons:
Cost Effective System
The Kase system allows investment in a total filter collection that can be utilized with different lenses. Instead of having to buy a set of filters for each lens, I only need to buy an adapter that fits each lens. So genius!
Easy to Use Magnetic Ring
The magnetic adapter rings allow very quick and easy filter exchange. Simply pull one filter off the magnetic ring and smoothly replace it with another. This feature of the system saves time and aggravation as well as allowing quick adaptation to changing circumstances.
High Quality Filters
The final selling point for me was the quality of the Kase filters. I experienced no loss of quality or sharpness in my images when using the filters. Applying the effects of the filters to existing conditions at the time of shooting actually increased the quality of the images I was taking.
I now use filters routinely because the Kase Magnetic Filter System fits the needs of my photography style, and eliminated the excuses I always used for avoiding filters.
WHY YOU SHOULD BUY A GOOD FILTER KIT
If you are an avid landscape photographer, I recommend investing in a good filter kit, rather than wasting money on cheap filters. Yes, it may be pricey, but you may never need to buy filters again!
The Kase kit I use is the Wolverine Magnetic Pro ND Set (82mm). Remember you only need to purchase the kit that fits the size of your most-used lens. Then you can simply buy adapters for the other lens sizes you might also use.
I got the 82mm kit to fit the lens I use most, and a 77mm adapter for the other lens I use, but not as often.
This is what’s included in the kit:
- conventional screw thread system adapter
- CPL filter
- ND8 3 stop filter
- ND64 6 stop filter
- ND1000 10 stop neutral density filter
Some cool features to note about the Kase filters:
- multi-coated shockproof tempered optical glass
- extremely durable
- easy to clean
- swap the filters quickly
- stack up to 4 filters
- can be freely rotated
USING FILTERS FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
The three types of filters I use for landscape photography are:
How Do I Use a Neutral Density Filter?
A Neutral Density Filter should be in almost every photographer’s camera bag. But many don’t understand how, where, and when to use them.
When placed on your lens, the ND filter reduces the amount of light making its way into the camera. It’s like sunglasses for your camera, without changing the color of the light being captured by the camera and lens. That’s whey they call it a “neutral” filter.
One my favorite subjects to photograph is moving water. It can be tricky to photograph water when the light can produce harsh white tones in the water. Using a neutral density filter helps to shield that harsh light to make it more even.
The waterfall images below showcase the various neutral density filters that come in the Kase filters kit I purchased.
Kase Neutral Density 8 Filter
It was SO EASY to switch filters when I wanted a different exposure from the ND 8 to ND 64.
Kase Neutral Density 64 Filter
Again, I didn’t hesitate to switch out the ND filter to capture a different exposure of the running water using the ND 1000.
Kase Neutral Density 1000 Filter
The magnetic feature of the Kase system has made a world of difference for me in using filters for my waterfall photography!
How to Photograph Waterfalls & Rivers
How Do I Use a Graduated Density Filter?
When you photograph landscapes, many times you’ll find a scene where there’s a substantial difference of light between the sky and your foreground.
You can use a graduated density filter to correct that so you have a more uniform exposure.
In my image below, the foreground is a bit dark compared to the sky.
A landscape scene of Yellowstone with no filter.
I used the graduated filter in the image below. The filter lightened the foreground so it shows more detail. The light is more balanced in the landscape scene.
Kase Graduated Density Filter
A landscape scene of Yellowstone using the Kase Graduated Density filter.
BOTTOM LINE FOR ME: The magnetic filters make it so easy to use! And the adapters to fit various lenses makes it so affordable.
If you’re looking for high quality filters, the Kase filter system is one I recommend. And your wallet will thank you as well!
AMAZON Landscape Photography Books:
Camera Gear for Landscape Photography
- Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
- Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
- Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
- Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.
- Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card! → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
- External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’.
- Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!
Camera Gear at Amazon | Camera Gear at B&H Photo
I use Kase filters also and like them a lot. Ease of on and off is great and they do a great job. One work of caution, the filters may fall off if you are hiking with the camera on a sling over the shoulder or off a pack. Put the camera away in your camera bag of pack.
Good tip Gary, thank you!