How To Do Better Exterior & Landscape Photography using Graduated Filters
How many times have you filmed with your video camera a scene that had the bright sky in it, and found that everything else in the foreground is just this dark silhouette?
Most video cameras and their manuals present the solution to this as usually a "backlight" button that you simply push to open up your camera's exposure. This way you can see what is in the foreground very clearly, but your bright sky above is this completely burned out white. What happened to the beautiful clouds and blue skies?
Well, there is another solution but it usually doesn't come with your camera. You should find it at a photo & video accessory store.
I am of course referring to what is called a Graduated Filter, or commonly a "Grad Filter".
A grad filter is basically a clear piece of glass that starts clear at the bottom, but halfway up it becomes gradually dark, like your sunglasses.
If your camera has a thread to screw filters and lenses in, you should have no problem mounting a grad filter to your lens. But if it doesn't, you can still buy filters and lenses in clip-ons and attachable frame forms.
Here is an example of a grad filter that simply slides into a small little frame that can screw into the bottom of any standard camcorder:
This simple device simply holds the filter up in front right against your camera lens. But if you can afford it, get yourself a camera with a thread for these type of things as that is much more convenient and less bulky.
The results of filming with a graduated filter are best illustrated with the two pictures below:
Look at the clouds and the sky in the two similar pictures above. See the difference?
The left photo was taken without the grad filter, and the right one with. As you can see, in the left picture the sky is very bright and the clouds are just these white burns. Bringing down the exposure would help the sky, but probably darken the foreground to a sillhouette.
Yet with the graduated filter, the clouds look a lot clearer and beautiful now that they aren’t too bright in relation to the foreground, because they are photographed through the dark part of the glass and the foreground through the clear part.
Just another way you can add just that extra spark of professionalism to your video work, especially any landscape and exterior scenes. Another nifty filter that can help you better your video footage is the polarizer filter - Read our article here.