No longer using graduated ND filter?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by paul_soohoo|2, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. This is a piggy back off an earlier thread on filter use.

    I've used them (graduated ND filters) in the past but since switching to digital I find them somewhat slow and cumbersome and sometimes lack the flexibility I'm looking (see example photo which is a multiple exposure blend). So the related questions are:
    a. When you are in a situation where you see a huge dynamic range what do you find as "usual" bracket range. I've been usually just hitting the 3F (3 frames on the D300) with one stop under normal and one stop over.

    b. In your post process do you use HDR (I have very little experience in this area other than poking around at it in Photoshop) or do you do a simple manual blend using layers, masks and brush tools. Is there a situation where one method (HDR) is superior/faster or provides more control than the other (manual blending).

    c. Do you find any situations where graduated ND filter provides a distinct advantage over taking multiple exposures and post processing?
    00UWbu-173823584.jpg
     
  2. I've found that when I shoot with film, these are pretty handy. Although, if I bracket, and then have the negs scanned, I can do basically the same thing in Photomattix.
     
  3. The graduated ND has the advantage when the subject is moving - one shot does it. However, I've yet to find a scene with a straight dividing line, so you always compromise where the juncture is going to fall.
    When shooting for HDR with negative film, use two stops increments for bracketing. With reversal film, one stop increments work better. Photomatix compensates pretty well for subject motion, like swaying flowers, by adjusting the blending ratios.
     
  4. For people like me who are digitally challenged, c. is the answer. I use my camera at ISO 200 most of the time and set the color temp as if it's slide film and do what I always did. So I'm still using all my regular filters. Less mistakes, less confusion for me. Maybe in 5 years I'll feel differently
     
  5. I haven't pulled my grad ND filters out in years either.
    But I keep 'em.
     
  6. The main argument in a digital age for a graduated ND filter is to get all the picture in the range of the sensitivity of the sensor. If you are shooting multiple exposures (bracketing) of the same image, it's possible to combine these later. If you're just taking one image at a time, then once you either burn out the highlights or really lose the dark areas into pure black you've just lost that part of the image regardless of how high the settings in highlight/shadow in PS.
    So, for example, really bright sky, really dark foreground -- a Grad ND can help get it all in one shot.
    The advantage? Figure the time it takes to do multiple images and process them versus reaching into your kit bag for the Cokin filter and holder.
     
  7. a) That depends on the scene, spot meter the highlights and shadows and decide

    b) I never use HDR since it always looks unnatural, artefacted and gimmicky

    c) only if I have no tripod
     
  8. I've never had much success using HDR. Of course I probably just don't know how to do it very well. In that photo paul is the type of subject I just can't seem to make work with HDR. If you do it manually how do you select all the infinite sections between the tree branches? and if you're doing it automated, how do you make it actually work due to the trees very slightly moving position in the wind? These seem to be the two obstacles I can't overcome when attempting HDR
    -Peter
     
  9. I use graduated neutral density filters all the time. I learned to use them when I shot exclusively on slide film, and I use them extensively with my digital cameras, as well.
    It only takes a few seconds to attach a filter an line it up. How long does it take to create an HDR image that doesn't look like a cartoon?
    Bonus number 1: time savings.
    Bonus number 2: the image comes out of the camera looking like a final products, not a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
    Note: I use Singh-Ray graduated ND filters. Other brands that I've tried add an artificial orange color to the image.
    I never use HDR since it always looks unnatural, artefacted and gimmicky​
    I'm with Mark L on this one. HDR is to photography as Auto-Tune is to music. They're both useful in some cases, but they're routinely overused and poorly applied.
     
  10. Some say if you can tell the picture was done with HDR, it wasn't done correctly.
     
  11. Still use them all the time. Occasionally HDR works alright but mostly it isn't good enough.
    Also on many occasions a more limited dynamic range does actually look better - but maybe that's years of slide film usage talking there....
     
  12. Some say if you can tell the picture was done with HDR, it wasn't done correctly. (Paul Nance)​
    Exactly - you shouldn't blame a technique for poor or over saturated images. HDR has become much more common because it is now far easier to produce such tone mapped images via software such as Photomatix. HDR has been around longer than that software, and is an invaluable technique for presenting a much wider dynamic range in an image from multiple exposures (or EV compensated RAWs). I'm no fan of the ultra saturated haloed images that are spreading like wildfire across image posting sites - but HDR is invaluable.
    Martin
     

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