Dec 12, 2010

Photography Tip - Graduated Neutral Density Filter

In this landscape photograph of a blue dinghy on Cape Cod, I was challenged by difficult lighting conditions due to the high contrast of the sunset sky and the darker landscape scenery of the marsh, blue boat and surrounding woods. Metering on the boat and landscape scenery provided detail and good exposure in that area but blew out the beautiful sky colors because of the longer exposure time. On the other hand, metering on the sunset sky provided nice sky and cloud colors but little to no detail in the landscape and blue boat because of the shorter exposure time. As a solution I used the exposure time from focusing and metering on the blue boat, that provided a correct exposure setting for the marsh landscape and dinghy in the foreground. I then hand-held a 1 stop graduated neutral density filter in front of my lens, placing it near the edge where sky and landscape met. Applying the 1 stop split neutral density filter reduced the incoming light on the sky and clouds above the horizon, maintaining its colors while the blue fishing boat, marshland, wooden area, and sky reflection in the river were correctly exposed for best landscape photography impact with strong foreground composition.