Filters For Seascape Photography (Part 2 of 3)

3 06 2009

Four Tips & Tricks When Using Creative Filters

This is the second article of three on using filters on your camera for seascape work.  Here’s a link to the first posting on which filters to buy for seascape work.  I thought it might be worth sharing 4 little Tips/tricks that I have found useful as I’ve been working with creative filters.

Tip # 1 – Carrying your filters

IMG_5035I spent about a year trying to find the best way to carry my filters.  At first I left them in my camera bag, but found it slightly cumbersome rummaging around for filters when you need to swap them quickly. I also lost one of my Singh Ray GND filters while on a dawn shoot at Turimetta (expensive loss). Anyway  I ended up going to an army disposal shop and purchasing an army hip belt.  This is absolutely perfect for carrying creative filters for a few reasons:

  • The pouch holds all 7 of my filters as well as the creative filter holder
  • The dimensions perfectly hold my grad ND filters inside their padded protection cases
  • I know that my filters are always with me even if I put my camera bag down on a rock somewhere
  • Now I grab the pouch and I know I have my entire filter kit with me (rather than spreading filters around pockets in a photo vest for example)


So if you are looking for a better way of carrying your filters you might want to consider a belt pouch like this one.

Tip # 2 – Remove one filter slot from your creative holder

If you enjoy shooting with ultra-wide lenses, then even with the ZPro holder (100mm) you will probably find that you get some vignetting when you are zoomed right out.  I reckon on my D700 I get a bit of vignetting if I am any wider than about 19mm.  One way you can cut down the vignetting slightly is to remove the third row from the filter holder.  This leaves you with two slots instead of three.   In this configuration I can still put my circular polariser in the holder, then add an ND filter as well as a graduated ND filter.  I have found that I never use the third slot.  So if you don’t need three…. simply unscrew the four screws and take the outer slot off.

Tip# 3 – If you do need to go ultra-wide, reverse your holder

Reversed holder gives one slot in front of lens and two slots now behind the lens

Reversed holder gives one slot in front of lens and two slots now behind the lens

I’m not sure if you can do this with Lee holders, but you can definitely do it with Cokin filter holders.  If you are just using 1 filter (like a grad ND) and you really want to shoot as wide as possible,  you can reverse your creative filter holder and shoot ultra-wide without vignetting.


Tip # 4 – Keep two lens clothes to remove the salt.

If there is a lot of salt spray in the air, your filters will get coated fairly quickly.  You will need to clean them regularly.  Microfibre cloths can quickly become smeary if they get damp with seawater, so I keep two lens cleaning clothes in my pocket,  a chamois one that does a good job of absorbing all the moisture and drying my filter well, then I give it a final polish with a dry micro fibre cloth fora streak-free finish.

If anybody else has any tricks or tips for using creative filters, I’d love to hear about them.

In my final article, I’m going to try and do some experiments around understanding and quantifying the colour casts that various filters create on your images.




9 responses

4 06 2009

Hi Brent

Nice idea the army hip belt. I had similar problems always trying to pull filters out of my camera bag, so I went for my dorky fishing jacket. Kind of like a photography jacket but i bought it at a fishing shop. It also has large pockets that I can fit the filters in and access them easily, on the plus side if they ever come back into fashion I will be prepared.

I am currently trying to make an nd grad for my fisheye lens. As those of you with fisheye lenses will know, they can’t take front mounted filter but have a filter holder at the back of the lens. I occasionally like using the fisheye for its enormous field of view and I fix the distortion during processing. The I cut up a gel filter the other day and inserted it in the lens, had to laugh when I realised that I actually have to put the tinted part at the bottom of the lens to get the top of the image tinted, talk about confusion. It kind of worked but I have not been able to line up the horizon properly, the filter holder is pretty fiddly. Anyway, will let you know when I have come up with a solution and you can add it to your filter talk.


4 06 2009


The Lee filter holder does not reverse. It only slots into the adapter ring one way.

The plastic frame is around 5-6mm, and the inner filter guide is almost flush with the objective side of the frame.

Looking at your image above, on your holder it looks like the inner filter guide isn’t anywhere near as close to the surface of the frame as it is on the Lee holder.

On my Lee holder there’s a 1mm gap between the frame and the first filter. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t (need to) reverse.

Hope this helps.


5 06 2009

mate with a bag like that they will be shipping you off to Afghanistan!!!
I’ll lazy, I set my filters up in the holder and don’t put them away, THat is my tip. THey get chucked into the bag and bounce around with everything else. So far so good!!

14 06 2009

Some good tips thanks Brent … Always struggled with my filters and how best to cary them for ease of use etc … Will have to try something like this out …



23 06 2009
William Ophuis

nice tips, which Cokin holder is that?? I have the plastic slimline one and it isnt wide enough at 16mm.

17 05 2010

thanks for this very informative write-up!

21 09 2011
Landschaftsfotografie - gute Tutorials zur Bildbearbeitung (Teil 1) - Design by FM

[…] Der Fotograf beeindruckt mich mit seinen Aufnahmen von Küstenlandschaften Australiens. In seinem Blog erfährt man, mit welchem Equipment man an den Start gehen kann und gibt konkrete Einkaufstipps. Aber auch seine Bildbearbeitungsanleitungen sind sehr lesens- und sehenswert. Gute Beiträge: Was gehört in meine Kameratasche Welche Filter benutze ich Teil1, Teil 2 […]

4 01 2012

Hi Brent,

I have the same Cokin Z series holder. If you remove the first holder from the front, how do you get your filters past the lugs that hold the filter holder to the adapter ring? Maybe Iam missing something here?

Thanks for the info about the army pouch. Iam looking for one now after dropping my whole filter kit in the sand and water the other day.

4 01 2012

You are left with two slots. I tend to use the outside slot for GND filters (it slides easily past the lugs).
And I use the inside slot for ND (rests on the lugs).

I have at times used two GNDs but I can slide them past the lugs anyway.

I hope this helps.

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