Why I Don't Use Graduated ND Filters
We're gonna, we're gonna kick this off with a topic that I get asked about quite a bit, and that is the graduated neutral density filter. And that filter, it's basically clear, or it's dark on top, and then it transitions to clear, if you've never seen one. That filter is dead to me. In fact, I have a slide that says, why graduated neutral density filters are dead to me. I have taken those filters out of my camera bag. This is not to be confused with a neutral density filter. I'm doing a whole class tomorrow on neutral density filters. That's a whole different, that's for long exposure. But the graduated ND filter for taming the sky is pretty much out of my camera bag. I don't use them anymore. So why? Why is it dead to me? Number one: it's pretty much the old way of doing it. Trust me, I'm not opposed to tradition. If taking that piece of plastic or glass, holding it in front of your camera, and crafting the photo in the field gives you something, by all means, still use it, but just ...
understand, none of us would argue that film is not really the mainstream of what we're using anymore. That was a film tool. That was a tool for what we used in film in order to get the photo that we needed. We have digital cameras now. We actually have digital tools that will do that for us. Wouldn't it be awesome if they were built into the camera? That'd be kinda cool. Let's get a camera manufacturer to make like a grad ND that's built in digitally. That'd be pretty cool. I just thought of that, but anyway. But anyway, just understand, it's an older way of doing something. If that process means something to you, have at it, but also just understand there is a better way to do it too. So, I'm not against the process. I just want people to understand the whole story behind it. So, it is the older way of doing something. If that's the way you want to do it, great. Just know that there's another way for you. It's more gear to worry about. So, we talk about this, lights changing fast. A lot of things are going on. It's one more extra thing to worry about that takes you away from what I consider the most important part of the photo, which is the composition. Getting a good composition. Being creative when you're out there. It's one more thing that takes you away from that. It's an extra piece of gear to carry along. So, we'll leave it at that one. Number three: the results are better without the filter. We looked at it this morning, we're gonna look at it again. But, when you have one of those filters, you're restricted to one stop, two stop, three stop. A hard, a soft. What about if you want all of them? Well, then you gotta carry a one stop hard, a one stop soft grad ND, a two stop hard ND, a two stop soft ND. You've got six filters with you, if you want to have all of those options available to you. They don't have them that are dark and add some blue to the sky, or open up the foreground with the shadows. So, we do have a better way of doing it after the fact.