Neutral Density Graduated Filters (ND Grads), and ND Standards in Resin from LEE Filters

This image really caught my eye, it felt like I was stood exactly where Mason was when he took the picture. Using only a Big Stopper to freeze the waterfall it created that effect which freezes motion but to the mind creates an illusion of water movement, this is the fun we have whilst using a Big Stopper is it not? To transform an image from ordinary to interesting?

Would I do anything different? Not a lot. The light pulls you into the waterfall and it’s here that you notice the finer detail, the greens on the rocks and the leaves. In the bottom right of the picture there is another small waterfall, the question is do you enhance it more and lift up the shadow area, or darken it to prevent it from causing a distraction to the main event in the middle? For myself, I’d lift the bottom right and selectively lift the vegetation hanging down in the top left but not to brighten up the background.

I’d be tempted to try with a Polariser rather than a Stopper in an area as dark as this to keep the detail. An intriguing image none the less which pulls you in for more each time you look at it. Carla Regler

I had a few long exposure shots to choose from this month, some better than others and whilst some can be very cliché, others, despite maybe also being a little cliché, just work! So, Jeremy’s offering here caught my eye, but there’s good reason too. Yes, there’s lovely colour. Yes, there’s movement. But both these compliment the other subjects in the frame. He hasn’t chosen to use the long exposure technique just simply because nothing else would work and that’s key. The lines and movement in the sky add drama, add impact and yet also draw the eye to the main subjects. Those wonderful rocks echo these motion-led lines in their static form. They all lead to a single main subject in the background, the mountain.

The image could do with a slight crop, just to remove some of the peripheral vision, as well as emptiness off to the right. All the movement is coming in from a bottom left direction, so Jeremy needs to emphasise that with the framing. You may be bored of these type of images, you may see this as too obvious, but if you hadn’t seen hundreds of bad examples, then I’m sure you would agree that this is how it should be done. Craig Roberts

What intrigued me about this shot by Andy, was not only the impressive subject, but also the filter choice for the image. For this picture he used a warm up filter as well as an ND filter (grad I’m presuming). In the digital age, the warm up filter has almost become obsolete by the White Balance control, allowing us to warm up (or cool down) our images to our hearts content, either in-camera or during post. That’s not to say you can’t still use the 81 series filters over the lens and whilst Andy’s may just happen to be an all-in-one warm-up/grad filter, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that it was a calculated choice to warm this scene up.

The best silhouettes are the simplest ones. Strong shapes, bold subjects and minimal distractions. You couldn’t ask for more here and the outline of the subjects provides all the narration necessary. As the grad filter hasn’t allowed enough light to capture the flowers or streaks of light and shade on them either, I think a lower horizon would have been better, placing the plane and four figures at the bottom of the frame instead. I do love the low angle however. Craig Roberts

An objective for any landscape photographer should be the evocation of mood. This picture achieves that through a combination of good timing, and a super wide angle lens that adds greatly to the feeling of space. The symmetrical composition creates a feeling of stillness, and the proportions of the composition allow the fog to breathe, avoiding anything physically recognisable in the foreground.

Since there is so little to look at in the composition it is tempting to label this image as “minimal”, which might be true, but it’s probably more useful to ask why such an image is evocative. The viewer brings their own interpretation; mine includes the thought there is something slightly unsettling about this picture in spite of the apparently settled weather. There is a mystery in the limited visibility; what might be concealed just beyond the island? Is there land? A far lake shore? Is it a flooded landscape? We can’t know. It may be the ambiguities and unanswered questions that make a photograph worthy of prolonged study. Joe Cornish

Depth is such a fundamental consideration in landscape image making, and good composition and viewpoint make a huge difference to the evocation of depth. One might think that with all the raw materials – stormy and dramatic lighting, the sinuous receding lines of a braided river bed, and an outstanding viewpoint – that a good photograph would be guaranteed. But to bear witness to a moment like this requires effort and endeavour; it rarely happens by accident. And there are still judgments to be made in composition, exposure and post-production rendering.

The golden sunlight beams in this composition are critical, enhancing the aerial perspective of the hills and providing an uplifting mood counterpoint to the darkness of the sky. A minor irritant is the rather abrupt starting point of the river in the foreground; this could be mitigated by darkening the highlights of the river slightly where it meets the bottom edge of the frame. Overall though, the quality of light and shade looks really natural and is very well-judged. Joe Cornish

The rendering of this image has a lovely softness to it that ushers the viewer forward into the picture space. The colours seem slightly desaturated; hard to know if that is ‘how it was’, or the photographer’s personal vision, but it certainly enhances the tones and mood of this coastal landscape. It is wise to make creative decisions that reflect the qualities inherent in the weather of the moment, to go with the flow, and not only to follow one’s own personal agenda (important though that is).

It might seem obvious to say that the sky matters in landscape photography, but clearly this is one image where it matters more than most. Emanating from the centrally placed lighthouse, the textures of the clouds give the picture movement and energy. However, this is one detail where I would also suggest to Karin there could be some extra work to do. While the filter has done a good job of balancing the sky to the foreground, the upper reaches of the sky have become somewhat muddy. A little subtle lightening and contrast enhancement in this area would probably help. Joe Cornish

I’ll admit to having mixed feelings about including this image in the selection as it is such an awe-inspiring location… and such spectacular locations are often inclined to produce disappointing results. Still, it would be uncharitable to deny that this is a wonderful moment, and the lighting in particular really does justice to the landscape. The picture has a softness to it slightly at odds with the raw and rugged physicality of the shore. Was this was caused by a lens slightly affected by sea spray, or a post-production decision? Who knows… Roberto presumably! What is certain is that the lighting balance, managed in camera by two filters, is extremely fine.

Regarding composition I do have some mixed feelings as the open sea on the right fails to balance the interesting rocks with the flowing water patterns on the left. It also seems that the opportunity to create an even more positive connection and perhaps convergence between the rocks and the mountains has been missed. However, not being present at the time and so not knowing just how risky/dangerous/impossible the context was means that this might be an irrelevant point. Just as it is the image still offers so much to enjoy and admire. Joe Cornish

Anyone that knows me, knows that black and white isn’t my thing. However, when I see a good black and white photograph I can appreciate it, and this is certainly one of those images. The old pier boasts some strong, simple shapes, which are well suited to a B&W conversion, so I think Les has definitely made the right choice here. This simplicity is emphasized really well by a long exposure, so it was a great decision to fit the Super Stopper to give such a long shutter speed.

There is only one suggestion that I could offer to improve this composition, and it’s only a tiny thing. This kind of picture is all about symmetry, and time taken composing a completely symmetrical image pays dividends. I’m slightly bothered by the spacing between the two posts on the left of the picture, and the gap just beyond them, when compared to the posts and gap on the opposite side. A small step to the left would hopefully have corrected this, and provided the finishing touch to a beautiful image. Adam Burton