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  Graduated Filters  


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What is a graduated filter?

  • Basically one-half the filter is darker while the other half is clear, with a gradual transition from dark to light between the two halves.
  • There are two types of graduated filters:

The first, and most common, is the graduated neutral density [ND], or grey. 

The second is a color graduated filter. 

They basically do the same thing, which is to reduce the difference in brightness between the sky and ground. 

    • A graduated ND filter [grey] will darken the sky without normally causing a color cast to it, while the color graduated filter will change the color cast of the sky itself.
    • The graduated ND filters come in several shades of grey, and have different number designations given to them depending on the shade of grey.  These numbers inform you of how many stops of light that it will reduce the brightness by.  (See table shown in Neutral Density filters for what each number represents).
    • Positioning a graduated filter.  Attach your camera to a tripod to keep it steady.  This is always a good idea when shooting landscapes.  Slide the filter into the holder so that the transition area between the grey, or color, and the clear is at the horizon line.  Be careful on this alignment, because if it’s crooked it will give you an unnatural transition.
    • I also use graduated color filters, but only sparingly, depending on the type of effect that I want to achieve.  There is no good or bad, it just all depends on the photographer’s preference.
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