I finally did it!
Over the last few weeks I've been busy shooting the Festival of Voices. It was a relatively well paying job, at a time when I really needed some extra funds. Despite this need, and a relatively uncertain few months coming up in terms of paying work, I told myself I'd use at least some of the pay to invest in new equipment.
Finally that payday has come, and I've just psyched myself up to spend the money on some ND Grad Filters.
I've been going on fairly regular adventures around Tasmania to see and shoot some landscapes, and it was on one of these first adventures that I ran into another, much more established (which is to say established at all) landscape photographer. He was shooting with graduated filters, and was kind enough to chuck his filter kit on my 17-40mm f4.0 (which he was also shooting with) and let me take a few shots. I really had no clue what I was doing and didn't want to fiddle around too much for fear of either screwing up or damaging his equipment. I only took a few shots, but it was immediately clear that I would need my own filters if I was going to continue shooting landscapes.
I did my research and as usual I found that there are cheap and nasty filters, average priced and average performing options, and of course the premium quality filters that come with a hefty price-tag. My philosophy with regard to photography equipment is to, within reason, "but nice or buy twice". I applied this to my purchase of a 70-200mm f2.8L IS II - a decision I have not once had cause to regret, and as I read more and more about ND Grads, it became quite apparent I would have to do the same with filters.
After watching sales videos and hands-on reviews to psych myself up, I finally hit the "Submit Order" button on the following gear.
Lee Filters Foundation Kit + 77mm Wide Angle Adapter Ring
These form the backbone of the filter kit. The foundation kit fits up to three 4x6 or 4x4 filters, and the adapter ring will allow me to connect the kit to both my 17-40mm f4.0L (which will be my primary landscape lens) and conveniently also my 70-200 f2.8L IS II, which I doubt I'll use as much, though it might be fun to experiment with it.
Lee Filters - 4x6" Hard-Edge Graduated ND Resin Filter Set
This is a set of three ND Grad filters (0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 or 1 stop, 2 stop, 3 stop) with a hard transition, as I'll be mostly shooting horizons. These three filters used in combination should allow me to achieve most of the work I want to do, and vastly improve the shots I've already been taking.
Lee Filters - 100x100mm Big Stopper 3.0 ND Filter
This is the big one people. The Big Stopper provides 10 stops worth of light reducing power, which will allow me to take some extremely long exposure photos at night, or regular long exposure shots even during the day. It also has interesting applications for natural light portrait shooting, in that it will allow me to shoot properly exposed portrait shots at low apertures like 2.8 in full sunlight. I might even be able to hold it up in front of my 50mm 1.2 and shoot super low apertures. Should be interesting to give it a go!
Annoyingly I just found that my paypal account screwed up and my order was cancelled, so I had to put in a second order. With any luck, this one will go through and everything will be fine! I could really have done without that stress.