However I'd managed to set a couple of hours aside the other week and drove to the nearby village of Aylesford. The village here has a medieval footbridge crossing over the River Medway. Built around 1000 - 1599 and until recently had been opened to road traffic it has a very picturesque feel about it. From the road bridge next to it one can see the full view of the bridge, the church and the rear gardens of the property that's located along the river.
Christmas arrived and one gift I unwrapped was indeed a Lee Filter ND 0.6 Soft Grad. Once again spoilt by my girlfriend.
And that's why I was at a bridge in Aylesford. however, I needed to make a slight adjustment to the picture taking procedure. Once everything was framed, focused and set to manual I would have The Big Stopper ready in its filter holder. All I needed to do was pop the filter holder over the adaptor ring and secure it in place with the spring loaded screw. However, I need to slide the ND Grad in place carefully and be able to see the effect in the viewfinder. I now need to change my workflow a little and do the following:
- Meter the ground area
- adjust the shutter speed suitable for the Big Stopper.
- attach the filter holder, secure it in place
- Slide the ND Grad in the putter slot and while viewing the image adjust the grad to the correct position.
- Slide The Bigger Stopper in place, making sure I don't move the camera or the focusing part of the lens.
- Take the picture.
The effect of using the ND grad is subtle and one may prove that with a DSLR set to RAW, editing software like Lightroom could bring back the highlights. I however like using it and like to make an attempt to get this bit right in camera - now I have the tools.
For those who don't know what a ND grad is or what it does I'll give a brief explaination. The bottom of the filter is clear and around 1/4 of the way up starts to become darker gradually. Until 3/4 of the way up its at full strength. A 0.6 would reduce the exposure by two stops. It's common use is to position the filter so the sky is reduced - in this case by two stops. The result is a better balanced exposure between sky and landscape. Reducing the sky to over exposure and the white out effect.
Lee Filters grade their ND and ND Grads with the following numbers
- 0.3 = one stop
- 0.45 = one and half stops
- 0.6 = two stops
- 0.75 = two and a half stops
- 0.9 = three stops.
Each grad comes in either Hard or Soft graduation meaning that hard is less subtle and has a quicker graduation, almost a line between clear and ND around half way up the filter.
Each time a large lorry drove over the bridge and over the expansion points the bridge would move a little. It would be just enough to spoil the shot if the shutter was open at the time.
However, I feel that I do need to add another filter, maybe a Hard Grad, where the graduation is less sutale then the soft grad. Asking the girlfriend to get this may be a bit much to ask and waiting until either my Birthday or Christmas is a bit long to wait. It looks like I'll be putting my hand in my pocket this time, unless the Easter Bunny is feeling a bit generous - or is that missing the point of Easter? I guess so.