Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens, I’m going to show you the three filters that I carry with me anywhere I travel, whether I’m on a plane, a boat, a bike, or backpacking, I carry these three filters with me. But first a shout out to Nisi Optics, our sponsor, who provided us with the filters and the holder that we’re going to use in taking the images today. This is really a landscape setup, landscape or any kind of outside architecture. There’s a lot of different applications for this.
But the first filter that I carry with me all of the time is a polarizer. Most of you are used to a circular polarizer you put on your camera, those are great. They allow you to polarize the light. It gets rid of all unwanted reflections. It gives you a really saturated color. I mean, using a polarizer is beautiful. Not always, you have to be careful about polarizers. Here’s an example on the peak behind me. There’s the full polarizer. It just blackens the sky almost. And there’s without the polarizer it lightens it a lot. So you have to be aware of where you’re looking with your polarizer. But more importantly, when you’re shooting landscape photography, doing a sunrise in the morning, that open kind of time when the light is just going to come up you get this kind of glow. That polarizer helps you to clean up all of the highlights, clean up the color and just make it look beautiful and open. So the polarizer is thenumber one filter.What I love about the Nisi setup here is that polarizer is twisted onto my lens. And I’ve got a little wheel on the side that I can roll the polarizer around and it allows me to polarize it or to take some of the polarization away if I choose to. But it doesn’t rotate my filter holder on the front. And that’s really what I need.
The V 7 is the latest in line of 100 millimeter filter holders used by a lot of the top landscape photographers worldwide. Using 100 millimeter square filters like this standardizes the filters you have to carry with you. And you have a lot of different options. It goes from 49mm to 95mm. So it really adapts to any kind of lens you want to. A couple of features I just love about this filter box. One is with a single turn, this one mechanism here does two things. With a single turn I can adjust this and lock it. And now it’s not going to go anywhere. Two, if I want to really turn this and pull the pin, I can take the filter box off and put it right back on, no problem. The other thing is, I love the integrated polarizer. I can set my filter box and put it on the horizon the way I want it. Now I can turn the back here behind it with this little wheel and I can adjust my polarizer and it doesn’t change the adjustment of my filter box. The V7 is Nisi’s first time that they have used a True Color Polarizer. There’s not going to be any color shift with this polarizer whatsoever. And you have that ability to spin it in the back, which I love.
Because the next filter I’m going to use is going to be a gradation, I carry two different kinds of gradations. I use a three stop gradation, it just goes from clear to a three stop gradation. It’s a medium gradation. Sometimes I think I’d like to get a faster gradation and I probably will get one because in some situations where that horizon is pretty strong, I want that gradation to gradate very quickly. But in this situation, I’ve got a pretty gradual gradation. It’s a three stop, so it goes from clear to three stop in my holder. I can now take and I unlock the side of my holder here. I can adjust this to match my horizon line or the objects in my image. I can lock it now. And I can move this up and down. And I’ll just look to the viewfinder. I’ll slowly bring this down to where it starts to bring in just a little bit of that sky in the background. And what that does is it brings those highlights down in the sky and matches them better with the kind of open shade that I have in the foreground. And most landscape stuff, that’s the way I shoot. Early morning, the sun is just trying to peek. So you are getting a little bit of sun on some mountains, maybe in the background. And you have this big valley that is open shade. I want to knock down the sky that’s above the mountains in the background. But I want to have open shade in the foreground.
This is a 50mm lens. I’m shooting everything with a 50mm lens. Which means I’m stitching. Sometimes I’m stitching up and down. So I’ll shoot my first image up and I’ve got my filter into knock the sky down. But when I tilt down, I’m going to pull that filter out because I don’t want it to be gradating the valley or the shadow areas below. So I pull the filter up on the low shots and the filters in on the top. So if I have two images across, I’ll keep the filter in for those. If I have two below I’ll pull the filter out for those two. I did some where there were three across and three below. So I do click, click, click and pull the filter out, then click, click, click and do the ones below.
So the third filter I carry with me all the time is a reverse gradation. You might say to yourself, “Well, what’s a reverse gradation?” This is a reverse gradation. It gradates from clear to a three stop and then from three stop back to clear. So it goes from clear to three stop then back to clear. You might ask yourself, “Why would you use something like that?” If you’re trying to shoot a sunset and you have the sun right in the shot. This will knock the sun down. Which will allow you to give nice exposure on the ocean in the foreground or the mountains in the foreground. But then it gradates back up to clear because now we’ll open up. It won’t darken the sky above the sun. Because you want to be able to have that sky be open as well. If you have a gradation that goes to three stop all the way to the top, it just knocks that sky and makes it very dark. This is a nice setup these three filters together: the polarizer, the three stop medium gradient and then the reverse gradient. So those are the three filters I carry with me everywhere I go.
So we’re on the west side of Pinnacles National Park today, we came over here for evening because we want to really get a nice sunset. I don’t know that we’re going to get that. There are some very interesting clouds. The sun is kind of clouded in behind us. But I set this up so I could do a nice pano. This is perfect for a 50mm lens when you want a single perspective, panoramic. It’s just really ideal to be able to stitch together.
So I’m using a three stop grad. And it really just gives us a nice kind of gentle, kind of pushing back of the color in the sky. It gives us a little bit of saturation in that color. Makes it a little bit darker. It just looks really nice. It just gives us a little bit that I think is so wonderful.
So Julene just said to me, “Your filter in there is crooked. You have to fix that.” It’s crooked for a reason. Because if you look out there, I’m kind of following this kind of slow slope. That gentle slope of the hill back there. So I get that grad kind of right on that line. Rarely do I ever use them level. Usually I’m trying to follow whatever the horizon line is in the scene.
I do these on a two second timer because I don’t want to touch the camera. So it takes a picture. And there’s no movement whatsoever. I’m already down to a 30th of a second. Before we’re done here tonight, I’ll probably be shooting at half a second to a second. So I don’t want to be touching the camera at all. I’m just going to let the shutter drag and give us a nice image and I’m not going to touch the camera to be able to cause any kind of camera shake.
The reason I love the Nisi filters is because they really are high end filters. First off, they give you a true life color. You’re not going to get any color cast with them. It’s going to give you the color that your lens has seen. It’s not going to change that color at all, which is fabulous. There’s no vignetting, which is incredible for the polarizer. And for other filters, you want to make sure there’s no vignetting. Also, you don’t want reflections. These filters are hanging out in front. And these have coatings on them so that they don’t pick up reflections. So they really reduce the amount of reflections they get reflecting the scene around you, which is super important. Because you don’t want to get a secondary reflection off your filter, that now becomes part of your image. These are high definition filters. They have nano coatings on both sides of the filter. So it’s easy to clean. They are water resistant, soil resistant, and just makes it a lot easier to be out in this kind of environment. Basically, they are optical glass. And that’s what you want. You want something that’s going to be as good of glass as your lens you purchased.
So there you have it, the three filters I carry with me when I’m shooting landscape or if I’m doing architecture, any of that kind of work. It really is a landscape setup. A polarizer to clean the color to give you just vivid color, and then use a grad to be able to crush that dynamic range. And that gives you the ability to then get into Photoshop and Lightroom and to be able to do your final work on the image. I’m not saying you don’t go into Photoshop and Lightroom, you absolutely do. But the filter, the grad filter gets you into a range where you’re able to work on it in Photoshop or Lightroom and you don’t get banding or other issues with it there.
So this is a great setup, a landscape setup, something that I’ve suggested to a lot of people. As I’ve gone out with other landscape photographers, that’s just about what everybody uses. Also that 50mm lens, shooting a 50mm lens, being able to give you that kind of really one point perspective. And then grads to kill the sky and polarizer to intensify the color. It’s just a great setup. So thanks to Nisi Optics for providing us with our filter holder, that beautiful spinning polarizer and then our grads. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’.