It was a gloomy day in October 2017 when I found myself in the company of Greg Whitton, Andy Yu and several others in the wilds of the northern Rhinogydd, the nearest approximation of an authentic mountain wilderness to be found south of the border. I’d spent a lot of time with Greg in the previous few years but hadn’t seen Andy since May 2013 when we both took part in a promotional film as official Peak District photography partners. It was great to catch up properly as we plodded up towards the old manganese mine on Moel Ysgyfarnogod and by the time we reached the extensive pavements of Cambrian gritstone below Craig Ddrwg we were fully up to speed and ready for some photography.
At the time I was an aficionado of LEE Filters and really happy with the results they helped me produce. I’ve never been a gear freak, seeing my equipment as merely tools to get the job done, but when I noticed Greg and Andy using the new fangled KASE system my curiosity got the better of me. These guys are brilliant photographers so if they were using KASE then I wanted to know why!
Rather than give me a big spiel or the usual sales pitch Andy passed over a collection of KASE kit and told me to crack on with it. As I got set up I was immediately blown away with the K100-X holder and the way the polariser integrated into the system. When I began shooting it only took me one exposure and I was hooked. All at once my LEE gear seemed obsolete.
For that first shot I slid in 0.6 and 0.9 soft grads and was roundly laughed at for ‘over gradding’ which didn’t bother me too much as it was the way I worked, often using 5 stops of filtration to balance my exposure. My 6D was, even then, getting a bit long in the tooth and I had adopted a technique of keeping shadow areas as bright as possible in camera to minimise noise in my large prints. It works for me but how they laughed!
To really put the cat amongst the pigeons I decided I’d add a six stop into the. mix. Up until that day I had shied away from longer exposure times as every ‘stopper’ I had ever used introduced a colour cast which I didn’t want to see on the back of camera. I’m one of those old farts that likes to get things as close to perfect in camera, that’s the reason I use filters in the first place rather than bracket.
This combination gave me an exposure time of 13 seconds and I was fully expecting to see some visible colour cast. When the image appeared on my screen I was very pleasantly surprised. The colour was warm and natural without any hint of cast. I was sold.
The system itself and the neutrality of the glass was more than enough for me to put my LEEs away but there was more. The Wolverine filters are tough and we conducted a drop test onto some of the oldest rock in the British Isles. Nervously, I held the filter at arms length and dropped it. The almost musical sound of it bouncing off the rock sent me into paroxysms of laughter. I bent down and examined the completely unscathed filter. “That’s not supposed to happen” were the only words I could muster.
A few weeks later I received a custom made 5 stop grad to add to my arsenal and have been using it ever since. It still looks brand new and has become an indispensable piece of kit which I wouldn’t want to be without. I’ve also been very impressed at how the KASE Wolverine filters handle condensation and rain drops; rain rolls off and condensation is easily wiped away without smears. Moving across to the KASE system has been the single most positive thing I done to upgrade my equipment since I got my first decent camera 10 years ago. I would, and do, recommend them to anyone looking to upgrade to pro level filters.
Nick Livesey is a professional landscape photographer, qualified mountain leader and author of ‘Photographing the Snowdonia Mountains’ (fotoVUE). Based in the heart of Snowdonia National Park he also supplies imagery and writes for a number of national outdoor publications and offers photo guiding and hill skills course in North Wales though his business ‘Discover Secret Snowdonia’.