Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another vote for hand-holding ND Grads

We featured Chris Kayler back in July when his work appeared in the Summer issue of Nature's Best Photography (the "For Kids, By Kids" issue). In addition to pursuing his degree in Environmental Science at Northern Virginia Community College, Chris is taking his nature photography very seriously.

Coincidental to our previous entry from Steve Kossack, Chris sent us this image as an example of his hand-held ND Grad technique. Chris says he is relying on his Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density Filters more and more to reduce the dynamic range in high-contrast scenes--such as the one above--and thereby capture a wider range of tones. He shot this image with the help of our 3-stop soft-step ND Grad stacked with a a 2-stop hard-step ND Grad.

"The larger 4x6-inch size of these filters," says Chris, "makes them much easier to hand hold. I started out using a filter holder on my lenses to hold the graduated neutral density filters, but I am now following the advice of several other photographers and 'discovering' the advantages of hand holding my ND Grads directly in front of my lens. This hand-holding method offers several advantages. One of the most important for me is the ability to work more quickly. By not having to deal with filter holders, I can now change filters quickly and capture more images during those moments when the always-changing light is most dramatic."

Chris adds, "hand holding also enables me to stack two filters at different angles so they 'wrap around' vertical features such as mountains on the horizon. Perhaps the greatest benefit for me is the ability to move the filters up and down during my exposure, effectively dodging and burning certain areas, and softening the transition between dark and light. Hand holding filters seemed a bit scary at first, but with a little practice this way of controlling the overly bright areas within my images has become efficient and routine."

You can see more of Chris's photography on his website.

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