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.
I find the photo busy and probably because of the monoliths in almost black. Other than that I like the way you were able to finish the photo with Topaz Restyle.
Mary @ Green Global Travel says
Great post! The result looks amazing! Good to know about Topaz Adjust!
Paul Conrad says
Interesting. I use B+W filters and don’t have an issue with color cast. I even shoot with shutter “speeds” between 30 seconds and 4 minutes. My filters are the B+W ND3.0 and 2.0.
Russ Bishop says
Good tip Anne. ND filters provide a great way to create mood especially with moving water, but color casts can be a problem. It’s always nice to have a quick solution in your toolkit.
Lance @ Travel Addicts says
Wow! Stunning picture. Thanks for the Topaz tip. Need to check their presets.
James Greenall says
Very useful piece Anne, well done. As regards filters without a color cast, I use Hoya Pro1 ND screw in filters and Hi-Tech ND Graduated hard edge resin filters in a Cokin P series holder.
The Hoyas are great and I have even stacked a PROND1000 and an NDx64 together to give me a 16 stop reduction with no noticeable color cast, even on an 8+ minute exposure. The HiTechs as well are very good with no color cast when used singly. I have not tried stacking these, though.
Martin Stubbings says
Thank you for your interesting and helpful posts.
I use Lee filters and have not had trouble with colour cast though I’ve only used their “Little Stopper” which is 6 stops rather than the “Big Stopper” which is 10 stop
I quite like the pink 😉 have you tried Hoya or B&W or Lee I’ve found they are the best with no colour cast
Paul Plak says
I have some orange / sepia color cast, but that is with a B+W ND 1000, and it’s quite subtle.
Neutral Density filters are not supposed to cause colour cast. That is why they are called NEUTRAL..
That said, the reality is they do, as illustrated. However, in this cae, I prefer the colour cast to the more natural look.
When shooting in the evening, I prefer to shoot after the golden hour and the setting of the sun to take advantage of the blues, purples, and magentas from the eastern sky.
Mike Anderson says
Have anybody tried breakthrough photography nd filters $200.00 to $350 a pop but supposed to be the best. I have heard that promaster filters are good also and a sales represenative from my local camera store told me that he saw a demo and there was no color cast. I will try promaster filters out.
Anne McKinnell says
Hi Mike, no, I haven’t tried either of those brands. Let me know if you find one without a colour cast!