Filters for Landscape Photography. Part 1: Lee 0.45 Hard Graduated Natural Density Filter.

William Storey is an avid landscape/seascape photographer based in Scotland. Years of photographic experience have helped him create his own shooting style – broad panoramas with intense colours and perfect presentation of details.  The majority of his imagery is taken with the use of Lee Filters in which he came to be a self-taught expert with. Drawing from that experience, William is going to host a series of blog posts talking about particular filter types, their best application and useful practical tips.

First in line is the 0.45 hard grad filter from the Natural Density Graduated Resin Range.

Clacmananshire Bridge without filter

In this example I used a Lee 0.45 hard graduated natural density resin filter. The 0.45 gives a light reduction of 1.5 f stops at the dark end and the ‘hard’ means there is a short transition between clear and dark. ND is neutral density so there should be no change in colour tone or temperature on applying the filter. If you follow the blog series, you will become very familiar with these terms.

Clacmananshire Bridge with filter

For this image, I wanted to only subtly darken the sky, enough to retain detail and to expose the shadow areas beneath the bridge, as you can see from the before image when I metered for the shadows the sky was quite blown out, the application of the 0.45 hard grad enabled me to control the sky enough to keep the image looking quite natural. The hard grad filter was my choice here because the sky overall was too bright against the bridge so using a soft grad would have also darkened the bridge, whereas a very hard would be difficult to control and possibly made an obvious dark line along the bridge/sky border.

0.45 hard grad filter

Post exposure editing was very minimal for this shot. I have only slightly adjusted the contrast and removed some dust. The camera used was the Pentax 645Z with a 120mm lens. Exposure settings were F8 and 1/50th sec, ISO 100 and of course shot in RAW.

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