Grads, Polarizers and ND filters

I just did a a podcast with Marko over at about grad filters, polarizers, and ND filters. If you want to learn more about what these filters are, how they work and why I think every landscape photographer should use filters then turn up your speaker and listen to me ramble on… and on about these creative tools.

No filters - Canon Rebel Xsi

Singh-Ray 2-stop hard-edge grad filter over sky - Canon Rebel Xsi


13 Responses to “Grads, Polarizers and ND filters”

  1. I have to say that I prefer the first photograph. (I do plan to listen to the podcast but mu remarks are based simply on these two photos).

    Over time I have felt even just as a beginner in landscape that I prefer the relatively untouched yet evocative photo. To be sure, the second is more dramatic but for me it is less powerful. The first is an honest portrayal of a kind of light I know. It is subtle and beautiful; I find the second edging up on garish.

    • Hey Paul, the great thing about photography is that it is so personal, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. I think the filtered shot is more true to what I actually saw, but others see things differently. Filters work for my style but filters may not fit your ‘style’ of photography. tTere is no right or wrong, just personal taste – see what you think after you look at more examples of with and without filter shots. Darwin

  2. […] use filters or would like more on what they offer photographers. I suggest you jump over to Darwin Wiggett’s Blog, he has a link to a podcast he did on filters. It is great stuff and a most for those wanting to […]

  3. Hi Darwin,

    thanks for your great and very interesting articles around the filters topic! I would like to ask you a question related to this subject. In the last two years have been quite focused in applying techniques like HDR or exposure blending to landscape photography with quite pleasant results (at least I hope!). Since the post-processing based on this techniques is extremely time consuming, I am considering to switch to the GND filters philosophy, with the hope to have more time to spend in taking pictures! Actually I am a happy owner of a Canon EF-S 10-22 and of a Hoya HD CIR-PL 77mm polarizer. The next step would be the purchase of a GND filter (Singh Ray or Lee). By excluding the hand-holding of the 4×6” GND filter, is there an alternative way to fix the GND in front of the polarizer, maybe by means of a filter holder that take advantage of the tripod screw socket or of the lens thread for the lens hood? I would really appreciate to avoid buying an expensive 100mm polarizer..

    Greetings from Switzerland!


  4. Nonac,

    I say just hand-hold a grad – easy except when it is -30 degrees!


  5. Nurmans, Ares Says:

    Hi darwin, am newbie in landscape photography, I’luv your shoot, I would like to ask you the best lens for my 500d for landscape shoot, and your review about lb color combo, many thx.

  6. Nurmans, Ares Says:

    and with the 15-85mm, what filter I’should have.. For making my shoot juzt like yours, right now I own 2 lens, 18-200mm and 100mm macro, Rg Nurmans

    • Start with a polarizer for sure, then I would add a grad filter or two. Stay tuned for a new post on this soon.


      • Nurmans, Ares Says:

        should I purchase Normal Polarizer, Gold n Blue Polarizer or LB warming Polarizer ?, and your opinion about me buying Vari-ND for slow shutter ?, until now I’m still confuse what lens I’should have, my 1st choice is 16-35mm and 17-40mm as I see in many pro review about they’r shoot using it, then came with your 15-85mm recommendation, if you own 500d and you want to take a shoot of what you dream of, which lens you should have…?

  7. I have owned the 17-40mm lens, it is not great, I have tested the 16-35mm it is not much better – see this link –

    I think the 15-85 is a good all round zoom and it has image stabilization built-in for hand-held travel shots.

    Forget what other pros are using, just because you have the same gear does not mean you’ll get the same kinds of shots. Go to a store and play with some lenses and go with what feels good in your hand, is a good weight and covers a good zoom range. And then some test shots, if you like what you get, buy the lens. Not everyone uses the same lenses. I don’t even own a zoom for example.

    As far as filters go in the enxt week or so I will have an article posted which will answer your quaestions


    • Nurmans, Ares Says:

      thank you for gaving me the best solutions, I can wait for those article which will answer my questions. Keep making this world more amazing. Nurmans, A.

  8. Hey Darwin,

    do you have any general advice on how to choose a polarizer, as to brand, circular or square, coating, etc? Which one do you use? 🙂

    I own a D90 with the kit lens 18-105. Considering buying a Tokina 11-16mm. Why it seems most of landscape shooters choose Canon over Nikon? Just because of characteristics of file resolution? Or there’s more to it? 🙂


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