Desert landscape with colored grad filters

Started Mar 31, 2012 | Discussions
andywhoa
Regular MemberPosts: 386
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Desert landscape with colored grad filters
Mar 31, 2012

Hi,

I'm taking a trip to the Southwest United States later this year. I'll be visiting places like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page, etc.

My primary concern is with Monument Valley. Often, you'll hear about photographers using tobacco colored grad filters for a lot of landscape photography. However, the desert in Monument Valley is a very orange/red color. Even the rock (ex: the "monuments") sticking out are this color. Is tobacco really a wise idea? Should I stick with neutral? A different color? I'm concerned about a different color because, since the "monuments" stick out into the sky, they would fall victim to this coloring as well as the sky.

Thanks for your help

stretchman
Regular MemberPosts: 289
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Re: Desert landscape with colored grad filters
In reply to andywhoa, Mar 31, 2012

andywhoa wrote:

Hi,

I'm taking a trip to the Southwest United States later this year. I'll be visiting places like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page, etc.

My primary concern is with Monument Valley. Often, you'll hear about photographers using tobacco colored grad filters for a lot of landscape photography. However, the desert in Monument Valley is a very orange/red color. Even the rock (ex: the "monuments") sticking out are this color. Is tobacco really a wise idea? Should I stick with neutral? A different color? I'm concerned about a different color because, since the "monuments" stick out into the sky, they would fall victim to this coloring as well as the sky.

Thanks for your help

Your best bet would be to use a C.P. (Circular Polarizer) Filter. I use grad filters on a regular basis if the landscape is right. You are right about the "monuments" sticking up into the sky so its hard to use a grad filter in that situation. The C.P. filter is all you will possibly need there. The grad filter can be a valuable tool for the Grand Canyon as the line on top of the canyon is straight and you can balance the sky and the canyon much better.

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Jim F
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Re: Desert landscape with colored grad filters
In reply to andywhoa, Mar 31, 2012

See http://jamesfarrell.smugmug.com/The-West-and-Southwest-Parks/Monument-Valley-AZ-and-UT for some MV samples. I'm no filter expert by far. What seems to work best at MV is a polarizer filter. There's so much color in the rock and landscape that comes to life in the morning and late afternoon. Mid-day at MV can be harsh and I don't think there's much one can do (except with a polarizer) to enhance anything at mid day. To be honest, too many of my shots at MV are taken in the middle of the day and not at the preferred low light angles. I'm lazy about getting out early in the AM. My bad.

I guess what I'm saying is colored filters, in my opinion, are not really necessary at MV if you shoot at the right time of day and use a polarizer for some extra pop. EDIT: I would add that if you have a nice blue sky and some cloud formations too, that would be a very important part of your image that you might not want to alter with colored filters. That's where your polarizer comes into play.

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andywhoa
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Re: Desert landscape with colored grad filters
In reply to stretchman, Mar 31, 2012

Did you experience include sunrise/sunset shots? If so, how did the polarizer hold up then? I would think that the ground would be quite a bit darker and require something to darken the sky, perhaps brightening the monuments in post.

Example: http://jamesfarrell.smugmug.com/The-West-and-Southwest-Parks/Monument-Valley-AZ-and-UT/1926786_GvvszN# !i=1743758276&k=b6m9bMr&lb=1&s=A

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stretchman
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Re: Desert landscape with colored grad filters
In reply to andywhoa, Apr 1, 2012

Sure, you could use a grad filter at sunrise to try to balance the foreground but of course it will intrude on any object that protrudes into the sky. The sunrise in the summer will be directly behind the Mittens so it will be tough to bring out any highlights . You can try to use a "soft" edge grad filter as opposed to a "hard" edge filter to try and bring out the foreground highlights, or you can just focus on the the sunrise and use the Mittens as a foreground border. I think once you get to Monument Valley you will be able to figure out how you would like to shoot it and what works best for your eye.

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Tom Rogers
Contributing MemberPosts: 823Gear list
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Re: Desert landscape with colored grad filters
In reply to andywhoa, Apr 1, 2012

Under the harsh light of late morning or early afternoon, you might try B&W. A red or orange filter might give you some dramatic shots, or you can use PS later.

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