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on Mar 26, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14-11


Got a gear question you want answered? I want to help and answer it. Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions as I can. Questions are still a little light this week, I’m sure you’ve got them, ask them! Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

Hello Moose,
I’ve got a gear head question. I would like to take the exposure accuracy and details of my sunrise/sunset landscape images to the next level, but not with post production sliders. I realize its time to learn how to use neutral graduated filters to increase the quality of my images. I’m thinking about purchasing one Singh-Ray filter to start with. Can you recommend a good f-stop density for my first filter? nothing super slow like a 10-stop, I want a good all around filter density if there is such a thing that will most likely help me with sunrise and sunsets considering the possibility summer storm clouds. I’m heading to Glacier National Park the first week of August and I’m planning on shooting like a mad man with my D7000, it will be my first trip there. Also…what is the difference between ND and Reverse ND, and do you think a soft grad would suit Glacier better than a hard grad considering the uneven terrain? or should I be considering a strip filter instead? There are so many options my head is going to explode.


Mark, man, you cover a lot in your question! There is a whole bunch here and personally, not sure they are actually all related. For example, sunrise/sunset landscapes don’t require anything to do to the next level other than a whole bunch of heart. Pretty colors alone don’t make the shot, there is a whole bunch more that needs to be added. Now the split grad is a tool for compacting exposure but like any tool, it has limitations. Glacier for example has few if any flat horizon lines. There’s a bunch of mountains and if you use a slit grad, its straight line gradation is going to cut through some of those mountains. When it comes to a split grad that I recommend, these days it’s the 77mm Graduated Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 Filter or 3 stop split grad. When it comes to types, I prefer the soft edge. Hope that helps.

Hi Moose!
I too keep NC filters on all of my lenses! Seems like such a small investment for that extra piece of mind (as long as it’s a good quality glass filter!). My question for you is, have you ever had filters get stuck on your lens, and if so do you have any recommendations to get them off? My Nikon NC filter that’s on my 35mm lens is stuck. I’ve tried using a filter wrench (but the NC filter is smooth on the rim – it doesn’t have the little teeth for the wrench to grip), and I’ve also tried wrapping a rubber band around it for some extra grip but that didn’t help either. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much!


Margaret, I have not had filters get stuck on my lenses, but I have helped many who have. The first piece of advice I’d like to pass along I received long ago from a repairman. “Grab the filters like a girl” he told me. This is to say, don’t grab, squeeze and try to rotate it which most guys tend to do. Use the light touch so you don’t change the shape of the filter mount and keep turning from different points on the filter. Never meet a filter I couldn’t unstick. The other thing I have done is use a Leatherman Tool to first break out the glass and than twist off the filter ring. Like I said, never meet a filter I couldn’t get off.

I have a Nikon D700 like new,should I sell it or give it to my son. He is a big time Hunter, plus guide.

-Dallas, to me this is an obvious one, give it to your son! I am a firm believer of passing gear along to those who can be inspired by it and otherwise might not be able to have such gear. I have since the beginning of my career passed along gear and the rewards are been countless!

Hello Moose,
This is a great “column” to have on your website – it makes extremely interesting reading!
My question is “Just how much juice do I need in an Apple”? I am at the stage where I need to be pragmatic on space so my trusted MacPro 2 x 2.66 Quad-core 24GB Ram has to go. So do I look at a new MacPro to replace it or will an iMac cut the mustard? I use it for working with D4 and D800 single images and panoramas of several D800 images stitched together as well as scanned medium format files, so is the new MacPro overkill? Does the iMac have enough power in the engine room? I use ACR, Photoshop CC and Nik plug-ins. As with you my benchmark for an image is can I print a 24x 36 (or seven a 40 x 60) and it be sharp?
As ALWAYS, thanks for all of the advice and for sharing everything with us.


Richard, thanks for the kind words! Simply put, buy the most you can! Personally, I think the MacBook Retina with 16GB of ram does an amazing job, it’s what I’m running. Same with the iMac which likewise does a killer job. I can’t tell you is the new MacPro is overkill but at this point, it’s price sure seems a little on the, gulp side. Buy the most “juice” you can afford and it will all work out!