#Photo3 – 3 Essential Filters

The first in a new series featuring a weekly trio of top photo tips

Photo filters used to be an essential item for photography. In the days when you shot with film, these where the only ways to manipulate your images. Digital has removed the need for many filters, or has it? There are still some filters that digital can’t replicate or don’t need to. Most of the process of creating an image is done in-camera, so if like me, you enjoy using your camera more than a computer, then here are my three favourite and essential filter purchases.


The polariser. The king of filters! Not only does it darken blue skies by increasing contrast, it also boosts any colour in the scene, making them rich, vibrant and ‘pop’ in the picture. The polariser also removes reflections, which again increases colour saturation and is useful when shooting views including water. This filter absorbs up to 2 stops of light, so whilst you will have to bear this in mind when calculating exposures, it also means that this filter can also be used as a 2 stop ND filter if you need assistance in bringing the shutter speed down.

Whitby, North Yorkshire Moors


0.6 ND Hard Grad

If you aren’t using a polariser for shooting landscapes, then chances are you’ll need to use a graduated filter instead. The sky is more often than not brighter than the land below it and this exposure difference needs controlling. The easiest and most simple way, is to pop on a grad filter and the 2 stop, 0.6 hard grad is the most versatile, ideal for almost 90% of situations. Most landscape views have a flat horizon, so the hard graduation of this filter will be ideal.

Roseberry Topping, North Yorkshire Moors

0.6 ND Hard Grad


0.9 ND Soft Grad

For the other 10% of shooting situations, then a 3 stop grad will be ideal. This is a great filter to use within the urban environment, as the soft graduation effect won’t show up if placed over the top of buildings poking above the horizon line. Great for sunsets too, where the extra stop will help control the extra contrast. You can also combine this filter with the 0.6 hard grad to give you 5 stops of graduation for those extreme cases or place this in the filter in the holder with the  2 stop grad filter upside down for a 2 stop standard ND effect (with very light 1 stop graduated exposure balance on the top half).

The Shard, London

0.9 ND Soft Grad

You can read more about filters in my eGuides available with an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk

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