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Landscape Photography | Do You Still Need Physical Filters?

By Bing Putney on October 7th 2016

Lightroom, Photoshop, and the amazing variety of other digital post-processing applications have opened up a new world of possibilities for photographers. Working with raw files, we now have incredible power to adjust colors, contrast, sharpness, etc. Have these advances in technology made old physical filters obsolete? Many landscape photographers carry an assortment of polarizers, and various types of ND filters, but do they really need to?

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Established landscape photographer and Youtuber Thomas Heaton has put together a video compiling his thoughts on filters, including which ones he thinks are still necessary, which ones he uses himself, and what brands he prefers. The video is an interesting look at a topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention, from a photographer who knows what he’s talking about.

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Spoiler alert: As you may have guessed, there are a number of filters that you don’t necessarily need, but which make it much easier to get the shots you want. Again, Photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool, but many photographers would rather spend their time out in exotic locations, or exploring beautiful vistas rather than sitting at their workstation building complex composites.

It’s always been my philosophy to get whatever I can in camera, and keep the intensive post-processing to a minimum, so for these complex compositions it seems like a no brainer to carry a little pouch with a few filters if they’ll do the job without Photoshop.

You can find more good stuff from Thomas on his site.

About

Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Website: bingputneyphotography.com
Instagram: @bingputney

4 Comments

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  1. adam sanford

    I just shot Zion, Bryce and Death Valley, and I cannot imagine having done so without filters. When people ask me what’s the first thing to add to their kit when they buy an SLR, I tell them to buy a CPL without reservation.

    ND grads and all the baggage associated with using them (namely slot-in holders and all their vignetting rules on UWA lenses) can be a pain and people debate their value in this the age of bracketing and Photoshop, but I still use them to get things right in-camera when I can.

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  2. Dev Ghan

    can anyone review the Hoya Solas IRND filters? Thanks

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  3. James O

    Yes, I still use them, they are faster and better than the artificial filters in Photoshop.

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  4. Ralph Hightower

    A polarizer is a must. I also use yellow, orange, and red filters, occasionally a green.

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