Tag Archives: cokin

Landscape Photography Twilight LE Technique

One great benefit of having some interest in the sky during sunrise or sunset is the opportunity to photograph a scene at different times, and be able to come away with more than one acceptable image.

On this particular morning, there was very nice cloud cover above Lake Tahoe. Hoping to make the best of the situation, I set up to photograph not only at sunrise, but also just before and after sunrise. I also used different filter techniques to photograph each moment, so I could capture multiple effects. For this image I used a 10-stop ND filter, to show the effect of streaking pre-sunrise clouds above Emerald Bay. When shooting in the direction of the sun, I like to use a long exposure to obtain this streaking cloud effect just before sunrise and also after sunset, through twilight.

Carefully check the first couple of exposures in the camera’s viewfinder. If you notice blown-out highlights in the sky you will have to adjust the in-camera exposure. Another option is to attach a neutral density grad filter to your Big Stopper filter. This will eliminate blown-out highlights,

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Bolinas Ridge Sunset

How to Capture a High Contrast Scene:

I did not originally intend to shoot this scene to include the sun. However, upon arriving to this view, I realized that I was about 2 to 4 weeks late to capture the pleasing light green vivid spring grasses, that are part of the scene. Therefore, I decided to improvise. I chose to wait until the sun was low enough so it could be framed nicely into the image, as well as including rays from the sun. To be able to capture this scene with moderate success, usually requires one of two methods.  One method of pulling this off, would be in post-processing. This is where high dynamic range software or HDR, really shines. However, after using HDR to process several images, I find that the results can be unnatural. This method is still a viable option, and one that is widely used.

My preference for capturing this image, is with the use of on-camera filters. The filters I used to properly expose this image are called neutral density graduated filters. There are many companies that make these filters; however the most popular brands with the pros are Singh-Ray and Lee. My preference is the former, which are attached to the front of my lenses using the Cokin Filter System.

Very rarely do I attach two filters to my lens at the same time; however the high contrast of this particular scene required that I use two filters in this instance. My go-to filter is the Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge filter. Soft edge refers to how sharply the dark part of the filter transitions to light, while 3-stop refers to how much loss of light there will be, and how much the exposure will need to be increased.

While my go-to filter was used to balance out the normal contrast between the sky and foreground, I also used a Daryl Benson 3-stop reverse grad, which is also part of the Singh-Ray catalog of filters. This filter was required to keep the area of sky where the sun was setting from being over-exposed. This filter can also require practice to line correctly in the Cokin holder. It was necessary for me to adjust the position of this filter several times before I obtained a satisfactory result.

When it comes to either using software or on-camera filters to correctly expose and process your images, my best advise is to not be intimidated. Just get out there and shoot. Practice, practice, practice…Sooner or lately, you will be glad you did.

Technical Information:

  • Nikon D7000
  • Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5 at 45mm
  • 0.3 Seconds
  • f/16
  • ISO 125
  • Singh-Ray ND Grad
  • Daryl Benson Reverse ND Grad

Helpful Links:

http://singh-ray.com/grndgrads.html

http://www.2filter.com/cokin/cokin.html

http://www.hdrsoft.com/