There are many techniques and pieces of kit that will revolutionise your photography and neutral density graduated filters are one such thing, with their ability to banish blown highlights and lost detail in the shadows. No professional landscape photographer should be without them, but they can also improve chances of good outcomes for photographers of all abilities. While you can empty your wallet quite easily when buying ND grads, they don’t all have to break the bank, with several budget options on the market these days. Here is a no-nonsense guide to what neutral density filters do, followed by a test of some of the big brands currently on the market.
When to use an ND grad:
Use an ND grad when the brightness range in a scene exceeds the dynamic range capabilities of your camera; for example, when photographing a very bright sky when the land is in shadow (see examples below). The human eye has evolved for thousands of years and automatically balances the difference between light and dark areas, hence a scene looks fine when looking through the viewfinder but not when reviewing it on the rear LCD screen.
There are several ways of detecting exposure problems; either by setting your...
Read this article, and many more, in High Definition, inside Issue 30 of Landscape Photography Magazine.