Three Filters. One Location.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Great Salt Lake Marina. The weather forecast was predicted to be stormy and windy, which is the exact weather I was hoping for. The light and conditions were captivating the entire afternoon, giving me incredible storm light for hours. By the end of it,I was soaking wet, shivering and minus one of my favorite Singh-Ray filters. Despite losing the filter to the wind and subsequent jagged rocks, I came home with a pocket full of keepers and a newfound appreciation for using my Singh-Ray filters. I have experimented with both using filters and stacking exposures in post, but I always come to the same conclusion; filters are the only way to go. With stacked exposures I am rarely satisfied with the eventual outcome. And I spend a whole lot more time trying to perfect it in Photoshop because of it.

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo ND Filter

I have three filters from Singh-Ray that are in my constant rotation: The Vari-N-Duo Neutral Density filter, 3-Stop Neutral Density Reverse Grad and the Warming Filter. I used all three during my Great Salt Lake storm photo shoot. All for different reasons. The wind was causing great waves and movement in the water, so I knew the Vari-N-Duo would give me the silky look I was hoping for. The Vari-N-Duo gives me 10 stops of Neutral Density, and a Warming Filter, all in one. At times this one can be finicky, especially on wide angle lenses, but with a little experimentation and caressing it will give you what you want. I set it to the maximum Neutral Density (darkest setting) and it gave me the exact look I was going for, which would've been impossible to create without the use of this filter.

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo ND Filter

My favorite filter, the one that was lost to the rocks, is the 3-Stop Neutral Density Reverse Graduated filter. I use this filter on almost all of my shoots. If you know my photography, you know what this filter can do. I have had this filter for about two years, and I have beaten the crap out of it. Now it has nicks on every corner and a big ol' scratch in the middle (thanks to the rocks). I guess the wind was trying to tell me it was time to get a new one. Needless to say, I've already ordered another.

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Vari-N-Duo, Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse ND

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Warming Filter, Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse ND

Next, the Warming Filter. This one is almost always on the front of my lens. It makes blue skies bluer and can cut reflection on leaves and rocks, which will help the colors really pop. Twist it one way to cut the reflection in a river, twist it another to darken the blue sky. It definitely helped give the sky a little oomph of drama at the Great Salt Lake. When used correctly, the Warming Filter can be a fierce tool. Use it wisely.

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Warming Filter, 3-Stop Reverse ND

Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40, Singh-Ray Warming Filter, Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse ND

In the end, nothing can substitute for filters. They are as much a part of a landscape photographer's toolkit as a tripod. Once you start using them you'll feel naked without them.


Published: October 29, 2013


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