The Secret to Perfect Lanscape Photography

We all know a few landscape photos that we almost miss. How do some landscape photographers get such beautiful photos from their camera? When I went to Iceland I got into it and I got behind the big secret. Or actually there are 2 secrets.

The big secret is called: filters. And then in the special gray filter and a gray gradient filter.

What are filters?

Filters are stained glass for your lens. Some filters are around which screw you on your lens. Other filters are just square glass slides, because you need a container. That holder then screw on your camera, and then slide the glass plates there. Such a holder works a bit more complicated than a round filter, but the advantage is that you can move multiple filters at the same time. For example, you can use filters across each other.

How do filters work?

Filters work with ‘stops’. Each filter holds a certain number of ‘stops’ light against. Such a stop is a step in the settings on your camera. If you change your shutter speed from 1/60 second to 1/30 second, that’s one step aside, so one stop. Each stop means halving or doubling of light. In the case of 1 / 60th second to 1 / 30th second, we double the amount of light.


A filter that stops 3 stops lowers your shutter speed by three steps. If your shutter speed was without filter 1 / 60th second, then the shutter speed with that filter will be 1/8 sec.

The gray filter / ND filter

Neutral Density (shortened ND) filters are one of the most widely used filters in landscape photography. The effect that you can achieve with this is impossible to imitate in Photoshop. An ND filter can also be called a gray filter. The filter is slightly gray. He works as a sunglass for your camera. He reduces the amount of light that lets you work on long daylight shifts, giving you extraordinary results.

Thus, you can capture the most touristy places without tourists, simply by making the shutter speed so long that all tourists are fading by their movement and thus ‘invisible’.

You can also change water into a kind of milky mist. This creates a calm image where you would normally see all kinds of lines and movements in the water. You can also fast-moving clouds in this way. You have light ND filters, these bring only few stops of light away. You also have the heavy ND filters, such as Lee’s Big Stopper. This one gets 10 stops away! This allows you to work with long shutter speeds on bright daylight.

Such a filter as the Big Stopper is so dark that your camera can not focus once the filter is on the camera once. For this filter, you must first focus without filtering and make the composition. Only after that, screw up the filter and make the picture.


The gradient filter / ND grad filter

This filter actually works the same as the gray filter, but then it’s only half of it. Perhaps you’ve even noticed it yourself; At landscapes, your air is often overexposed on your photo. No matter how hard you’re doing, you’re just not getting the foreground and the sky just right because the contrast is just too big. Your eye may look fine, but cameras can not handle this well. There can help the gradient filter!

You place the gray section over the sky. The bottom is “plain” transparent so the landscape remains the same. This way there is a lot of contrast between the sky and the landscape away, and you can highlight it correctly. You have filters with a hard transition and a smooth transition. Hard transitions can be used when the horizon is clearly visible and the separation between the foreground and the sky is clear and clear.

A gentle transition is better when the separation is less clear. For example, if you are dealing with mountains or high buildings for the sky, such a smooth transition is less likely.

Combine the filters

You can also use these filters at the same time if you have a filter holder. This allows you to work with long shutter speeds, and your air stays well exposed.

Did you already know this secret?


Lorelei is a co-founder of and has over 15 years of experiences in Photoshop & web design. Fueled by coffee, chocolate, peanut butter and Irish cream.