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Photographer’s hand is a very useful tool. And it is useful not only for pressing a shutter button. It can also be used to create a shade for lenses to avoid lens flare. Or it can be used to block out sun that gets into a corner of a frame.

It can also be used as a gradient neutral density filter. With a long expose you can simply block out part of the frame for some time to reduce amount of light that gets into the frame. That’s exactly what I did when I took the photo below. While composing it I put my hand in front of a lens to cover sky down to horizon and took a note of how “deep” my hand should go to cover the sky. I pressed the shutter and started waving my hand in front of the lens, so my hand is not recorded but it blocked out enough light to produce dark moody sky.

Sure I could actually use gradient neutral density filter but it would not be so much fun. At some point I understood that photographer is a human and can carry only so much weight on his back. I started lightening up my backpack, gradient neutral density filters were one of the things that went away. In some way it actually made photography more interesting to me as I would spend less time unpacking my gadgets and preparing for a shot and spend more time seeing and connecting with a scene.

Kauai. Early Morning. Storm is comingKauai. Early Morning. Storm is coming