Traditional Graduated Neutral Density Filters (GND) – A standard grad is typically darker on the top half and clear on the bottom half. They are intended to be used to control the exposure of a sky allowing for the foreground to receive more exposure to reveal more details there. They’ve been around about 40 years and are a standard function of landscape photography. Typically they come in two types: Hard-edged and Soft-edged and in three strengths; 0.3, 0.6 & 0.9. This translates to 1, 2 & 3 stops of darkening to the top half respectively.
Hard Edged filters have an abrupt transition between the darker and clear areas, soft-edged, as the name suggests have a more gentle gradient, intended to feather the effects between the two areas.
Both work very well in situations where they are suitable, as long as unnatural darkening of elements that should not be darkened doesn’t render the point of them moot. Manual blending of bracketed exposures does away with the need for GND Filters, but is more time-consuming and takes a long time to master the techniques necessary to render the images natural.
Even though I am perfectly able to blend exposures manually, I still use GND Filters extensively in the field, purely because it saves me time, but only in situations where the effect delivered is the effect I want.
A very common problem with traditional GND Filters is that unless the brightness of the sky to be controlled is even, unnaturally dark areas can occur, especially of there are dark clouds in mixed skies. Quite often the area that needs controlled is just above the horizon; lighting conditions that are quite common around sunrise and sunset. The top half of the sky can already be quite dark, but where the sun is, can be far brighter.
This is the ideal scenario for the Reverse Nano IR GND.
I use Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter often at the beginning or end off the day when the light is most harsh adjacent to the horizon, and it works because the Edge Transition of the gradient is solid at the boundary, and fades to less dark as you head towards the top.
It’s beautiful in its design and function.
As with everything NISI, build quality and neutrality are excellent and I have been very happy with both my examples of this specialist filter.
Most of the time I shoot with my camera in Monochrome Preview mode, which means although the camera is still shooting RAW and recording all the colour data, the preview I see on the back of the camera in Black and White. I love the effect of shooting long exposure seascapes and after a couple of minutes seeing a beautiful mono preview with perfectly exposed skies and foreground, right there on the back of the camera.
It’s ideal for me teaching in the field and delivers a significant feel good factor while still in the field, knowing you have just what you want before you leave a location.
Once again, 5 stars to NISI – their systems never leave my bag.
Image taken with Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter
You can purchase Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter on Nisi Filters Ebay ( click here ) – 20% discount available
You can purchase Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter on amazon
Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter Size 100 x 150mm Amazon Link:
Nisi Reverse Nano IR GND Filter Size 150mm x 170mm Amazon Link: