I recently returned from Easter Island. Cree and I were leading a photo workshop there, and the photography was incredible. Easter Island is hard to get to, but the experience is magical. Thankfully the island had not changed much after my first visit more than ten years earlier.
We photographed a lot of ocean sunsets and sunrises, often with Moai statues in the foreground. We had great conditions for sunset shooting, but this did present a challenge photographically. As the sun slowly dipped below the horizon a huge highlight was created right on the horizon line where the bright sun was located. But higher in the sky the clouds weren’t nearly as bright. My red channel was getting way over exposed due to the sun. If I underexposed the shot to keep the red channel in check the rest of the scene was too dark.
Normally I would just grab my Singh-Ray 3 stop hard edge graduated ND filter. This would bring the highlights down in exposure, especially the bright areas on the horizon. But the problem would be this filter would also darken down the sky higher in the image, not something I wanted to do. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a graduated filter that was dark in the middle at the transition to the clear area, but also had light areas at the top of the filter so the sky wouldn’t be darkened?
Singh-Ray has this exact filter called the Bryan Hansel All-In-One Filter. Take a look at this photo above to see where the filter is dark and light. This filter works great for bright horizon lines as the sun sets (or rises), but doesn’t darken the sky higher in the frame where it isn’t overexposed. I use this filter a lot. I’m amazed at how many times I run into this situation with my landscape photography. I still use the traditional graduated ND filters because sometimes I do need to darken the sky all the way to the horizon.
I love using filters in the field and seeing in realtime what my image will look like…on the back of my camera. Filters change how I can photograph a scene, and will change how I compose a shot in the field after seeing their effects. If you are looking for a way to control those bright horizon lines, check out the Singh-Ray Bryan Hansel All-In-One filter. You will be able to control those highlights and create stunning sunset images.