I love using neutral density filters to block the amount of light coming in the camera when I am photographing seascapes. Blocking some of the light means that I can use longer shutter speeds to smooth the water or capture the motion of a wave as it rushes back to the sea.
Please click the image to view a larger version.
How the Image was Made
I started out with a beautiful scene at Cannon Beach, Oregon. The longest exposure I could get by lowering my ISO to 100 and closing the aperture to f/22 was 1/4 of a second.
It’s nice, but one of the things I like the most about this location is the way the waves rush back to the sea and I wanted to capture that, so I needed an even longer exposure. That’s where the 4 stop neutral density filter comes in.
With the filter on, I was able to get an exposure of 2.5 seconds.
But, the colour cast!!! Argh!!!
All the neutral density filters have a terrible colour cast. If you know of one that doesn’t I would love to know about it.
I started out with a Cokin 4 stop neutral density filter ($40) and it has an awful magenta colour cast. Then I upgraded to a Singh-Ray 4 stop neutral density filter ($150) and it has a less intense magenta colour cast, but it’s definitely still there, as you can see in the photo above.
So, what to do? At least with the solid neutral density filter, as opposed to a graduated one, the colour cast is even throughout the frame, so you can “fix” it in post processing by adjusting the white balance. Or you could mess around with white balance in camera, but that’s a hassle we don’t need in the field, especially when it is so easily adjusted in post processing when you shoot RAW.
But, I have found that adjusting white balance isn’t necessarily the most effective method for fixing the colour cast problem.
Sure, it’s easy to move the white balance sliders, but getting the colour just right is another story.
Topaz ReStyle to the rescue! I have just discovered that by taking the photo into Topaz ReStyle and picking one of their seascape presets, the problem is instantly fixed! No more adjusting sliders by teeny amounts trying to get just the right amount of blue and not too much green.
Topaz ReStyle is now my go-to plugin for fixing colour casts!
By the way, if you haven’t tried any of the Topaz plugins yet, now is a great time because they are having a 50% off sale on their flagship product Topaz Adjust.
Topaz Adjust is a great first plugin to try because it includes a little bit of everything. You can create HDR/gritty looking images, images that look like paintings, or images that just give a bit of a boost in colour, clarity and contrast.
While I love many of the Topaz products, including ReStyle, Clarity, B&W Effects, Detail and DeNoise, I still think the best bang for your buck is Topaz Adjust.
You can get a free trial here and try out the plugin to make sure you like it. The sale is on until August 31, 2014. Make sure you use the coupon code augadjust to get the discount.