[Insert cliched New Year’s title here]

Well I thought I would revitalise my blog and actually start posting on here again, instead of just using Facebook and uploading my images to Flickr. I’m a bit narked though as I actually customised the background to be a nice grainy, pastel green but it’s still white. I shall put my geek skills to use and figure this out.

From now on I will be posting the usual images and maybe something different, but I will also talk about other things related to photography such as the technical aspects involved, which I feel confident in talking about now that I have gained enough experience and read enough blogs, e-books and magazines to last me a life time and who knows, in time I may even write tutorials to go with the thousands of others on the internet, but if you want to learn or just want advice, I’d like to help you if I can or at least point you in the right direction. But first, before I go on, here’s one of my recent HDR (High Dynamic Range) images:

From the summit of Elidir Fawr in Snowdonia, North Wales

Anyway, at Christmas my wife bought me a new tripod and a circular polariser, UV and ND 8 filter. I’ll briefly explain in layman’s terms what they are what they do. A kind of tutorial!

A polariser basically removes reflections and increases contrast and saturation, and is useful for decreasing exposure by two stops (more on that later). This is one of the best filters a photographer can have at his/her disposal. Fantastic for removing glare from the surface of water.

The UV (Ultra Violet) filter is an almost clear lens filter that blocks out UV light and is great for minimising haze on those sunny days that we bi-annually get in Wales. This is a great filter just to keep attached on the camera as it will also prevent damage to your lens.

Now the ND (Neutral Density) filter comes in a lot of varieties and has two types: Neutral Density (that I have) or Graduated Neutral Density, (I’ll refer to them as ND and GND from now). They can either be screwed directly onto the lens or placed into an adapter. Their purpose is to block out light (they act in a similar way to your sunglasses) and they have a number of grades. They are ‘neutral’ because they do not effect the colour of the exposure.

Before I go further, a word on f-stops. This refers to the aperture opening in your lens and can go from f/1.8 to f/22 and beyond. Basically, the larger the number, the smaller the ‘hole’ in the lens becomes to allow light through; this can be confusing to the beginner – I know I was! If you hear someone saying they are shooting ‘wide open’, they are shooting with their largest aperture or their lowest number the lens will allow e.g: mine is f/2.7 so maximum light allowance. Smaller = bigger hole, larger = smaller hole. The f/stop numbers also effect a number of other factors such as depth of field, shutter speed and ISO, but that’s for another day.

Ok, back to filters. As I said I use an ND8 and CPL (Circular Polarising Filter) and I stack them on top of each other. The UV filter by the way, does not reduce light entering the lens. The polariser gives me two stops reduction and the ND8 gives me three stops, giving me five stops. See how good I am at maths? However, my camera is limited from f/2.7 to f/8.0, so I can’t block out as much light as I’d like at times. Let’s say I’m shooting at an aperture (lens size opening, remember) of f/8.0 without the filters (my camera’s maximum), adding the filters would allow me to effectively step down to f/14.2, so in those five steps I talked about, I go through: f/8.9, f/10.0, f/11.3, f/12.6, f/14.2. This does not decrease the aperture size or ‘hole’, but allows me to shoot at longer shutter speeds (so the shutter lets in light for a longer period) as if my aperture was smaller, (less light through the lens)

allowing me to get those lovely, milky soft water shots. I am awaiting the arrival of three more filters; an ND2, ND4 and another ND8 to help me further, as they can be stacked. I’ve read many differing opinions on stacking filters, but there are a lot of photographers who do this, although it can cause vignetting (dark corners in the image). I do however also use a third party development kit, designed for Canon cameras, called the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) that allows me so much more flexibility with the camera as well as the ability to shoot in RAW format and not JPEG, again another subject for another day.

How A Graduated ND Filter Works

Until I am lucky enough to be able to afford a proper DSLR, I am limited; but it’s not always about the camera – a skilled photographer has a good eye and can shoot and process images to a very high standard without spending thousands on a camera body and various lenses. My images are testament to this. That said, I would like a DSLR in the future but only a mid-range such as a Pentax K-50.

Anyway, this was just a new introductory post for the New Year where I hope you may have learnt something or at least just enjoyed reading it. You can view all my images on Flickr, following the link at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading all, and Happy New Year.



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