(A series of posts leading up to/including The Nocturnes Photo Tour in the West of Ireland, July 15-25, 2013; with a personal Genealogical Research Extension, in and around Ballina, up in County Mayo, July 25-29)
As many of you know, I'm not much of a "gear-head" - in terms of the THINGS I need to make a photograph that is more-or-less in line with my vision of, and what I see, in the world around me. That said - there are a few exceptions: see the recent post ("Illuminati") below re: Flashlights; and one I'd like to mention here, now - Graduated ND (Neutral Density) filters, Grads for short.
Just a heads-up here - I believe Grads are an essential part of a landscape photographer's toolkit, especially for our upcoming Ireland trek! Sure, you might be able to pull out 2 f-stops of detail in a blown-out sky, from your RAW file, but I'm a firm believer in getting it right (or as close as one can) in-camera - before you even download the files. Years of shooting transparency films (both 35mm and Medium and Large Format) have burned in that work ethic. You can stil fine-tune that RAW file, after utililzing a Grad in the field! These handy little devices (the best ones, made of glass) help tame very contrasty scenes, from overcast bright grey-to-white skies, to brilliant sunsets from Western shores . . .
Highly recommended - maybe one in the largest thread size of your lenses and stepping rings to adapt for smaller lens/filter sizes! The 0.6 Designation for 2 stops difference between the dark (upper) portions of the filter and the clear area (bottom) should work for most situations. $20-40 at B+H.
From The [not so] Daily Nocturne
(I have one word, for the Graduate . . . Plastics)