Part 1 a simple visual introduction to polarising & gradual filters,

In my workflow i have a regular need to use lens filters.
These perform various tasks for me from darkening or making skies pop to extending the exposure time from fractions of seconds through to many minutes in some cases. The many minutes function is particularly handy for someone who produces mainly long exposure images.

For the past few years these had been supplied by Lee Filters and to be honest i was pretty happy with them after having used Cokin prior to this. I found the colour cast managable but still annoying to deal with, particularly the blue cast given off by the Big Stopper.

The Little stopper was far better but not without its own challenges. The grad filters didn’t seem to have any cast which i found great in post production of the final image.

About 2 months ago i was approached by Nisi Filters UK arm about their range of filters with a view me incorporating them into my workflow.

I wasn’t reluctant as I had heard some good reviews from other photographers, but changing brands of filters is like changing brands of camera, you need to re-learn the nuances of each make.
The filters themselves unlike Lee are all glass construction with a multi coating to help cut out reflections. (a handy thing on a filter) The filter holder is rather revolutionary in its design being constructed mainly from aluminium rather than the plastics employed by the other manufacturers.

The Polariser (CPL) has its own innovative holder mounted onto the back of the mount. You control the amount of polarisation via a couple of little thumbwheels on the side. This is rather handy and far better to work with.
Everything fits together nicely and mounts onto the camera lens snugly which stops any unwanted light leaks. I will do another post concentrating on the mount at a later time.

What do polarisers do?
Saturate colours which is great if shooting in bright light
Deepen the blue and make the clouds in the sky jump out or pop.
Removal of glare which is brilliant for cutting through water or glass.
Drop the exposure by up to a stop depending on the type of polariser

What do grad filters do?
Balance different brightness areas within an image.
Extend exposure times.
Allow more creativity

Here’s a simple visual way of letting you see the differences

No filters at all metered for dip in mountain which is around a mid area of brightness


no filters at all metered for sky

No filters at all metered for sky

With CPL filter metered for sky

With CPL filter metered for sky

Combination of CPL and Grad metered for sky

With combination of CPL and Grad metered for sky .6 hard grad

ND .6 Grad Filter applied

ND .6 Grad Filter applied

No Grad Filter

No Grad Filter

Full range of workshops and tuition packaged coming early in 2015

Thanks to Nisi Filters for the use of their equipment

Check out my main portfolio site here John Farnan Photography


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