Filters – Part 6: Testing

I have talked a lot about filters and the advantages of using them and have pondered a lot about if I should or shouldn’t buy a square filter set. The conclusion is that, for now, the circular filters are enough for the work that I have been doing. That does not mean that in the future, if I decide to develop my landscape photography, I will still think it is the case.

On Wednesday my Graduated ND (circular) filter arrived. I was so excited by the filter and couldn’t wait to have a go at taking photos with it. It is just an incredibly beautiful piece of glass. Recently my Warming filter (both filter for the 18-35mm wide angle lens) also arrive and I have not had the opportunity to officially test it (and show the results). So today I will post the results from yesterday’s sunset photos.

I went to the same place I took the photos of the peaceful sunset, just slightly different position and time. I got there in time for the sunset (as I had planned). The edits on the photos below are only in increasing exposure (in various degrees), when needed. I have not adjusted lens distortion, tonal curve or any other slider apart from the exposure slider. This is to show the raw effect of the filter, doing any other adjustment on the image would have skewed the results.

The photo below is using just a circular polarizing filter.

Sunset with Circular Polarizing filter

In that photo, the sun is behind the clouds and relatively high (for a sunset). The sky is significantly brighter than the grass, that’s because it becomes difficult to balance the exposure so that the grass and the sky look good. The next photo I took is of the sunset, I was using just a warming filter.

Sunset with warming filter

As you can see, the issue with the sky being much brighter than the grass is still an issue. But the warming quality does make the sunset much more enjoyable. It also evokes the same sensation that I was feeling when I took the photo. The next photo is using only the GND filter.

Sunset with GND filter

As you can see, despite the sun no longer being behind clouds, there is a balance in the brightness of the sky and the grass, but not the warmth that the previous filter provided. Also, a hard graduated ND filter would have produced even better results. The next photo I took using both warming and GND.

Sunset with warming and GND filters

Now the photo above, I only adjusted (increased) the exposure by 2 stops. It is possible to see the balance of brightness between the sky and the grass. The brightness of the sun, where the least amount of ND is present in the graduation, is throwing off the metering in the camera (and that’s why I had to increase in 2 stops). The appropriate ND filter for this photo would have been a reverse GND, as the graduation design are perfect for sunsets. Unfortunately, there are no reverse GND circular filters that I know of. For this type of filter, you would need to go to the square filters.

Now, the image below is the final product of the image above. I have put it there to compare with the artificial Graduated ND and warming I produced in Lightroom in the same type of photography which will be beside it

Sunset with warming and GND filters – second edit
Peaceful Sunset @ Royal Park

The first one is moodier and the warmth is subtle, albeit present. It has a delicate softness while still providing a lot of detail. The second image is very bright and yellow (and at the time of the photo editing, I thought it was a good edit – not anymore). Comparatively, its sharpness is a bit aggressive and the yellow was not able to soften it up enough.

Back to Filters – Part 5: Graduated ND

Edit: After writing this post, I found in amazon a circular reverse GND filter. The set of 3 (from Kase) graduated filters, one of which is a reverse GND, that costs AUD$226.

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