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Author Topic: neutral density filter  (Read 11000 times)
Jack Flesher
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« on: November 21, 2003, 03:58:42 PM »
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I have many great landscape shots that got blown out with too much light in the sky portion.
Well if the sky is truly blown out, then you may be SOL... But if there is detail there there are a few things you can try:

1) The first is the shadow/highlight tool in PSCS -- just tweak the highlights down to where you want them.

2) You can make a layer copy, darken it so the sky looks good and then paint out the dark foreground to reveal the lighter image beneath with a big, soft, low flow history brush.

3) You can make a copy layer, grab the solid/transparent gradient tool, set the forground color to black for a ND effect, dark blue to match the sky for a graduated blue effect, or orange/pink for a warm graduated effect. Drag the graduate tool from the top down to about half way past the horizon -- experiment a bit with this to get it positioned where you want it -- then fade the opacity of that layer after the gradient to around 5% to 15% to emulate the SND or Split color grad look.

Cheers,

Jack
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Tyler
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2003, 09:14:22 PM »
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This is one of the reasons digital gets a bad rap.  How about learning to take proper exposures!  Then you won't have to worry about saving images in PS.  Personally, I'd rather use a Split ND properly than doing the two seperate exposures then blend later on the computer bit.
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PhotoMarkArt
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2003, 01:03:32 PM »
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Thanks for the help.  Digital gets a bad rap only when it is done bad.  The landscape photography I do, no one has yet to suspect there has been anything done digitally.  Once in a while I will tell someone that my prints are from a digital camera, or in some cases manipulated (like compositing, or eliminating things...)  and most people can not believe me.
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photoaz
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2003, 03:57:28 PM »
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If what you are talking about is the highlight parts that appear to be too bright (not blown out but too bright) there are a couple of ways to go.

One is a graduate mask done with the graduate tool and a masking layer.  This can look just like the square filter you use to have in your bag.  Just copy the image onto a new layer and darken it with levels or curves.  Place the mask over this and there you are.  You can also just dup the layer and change the mode to multiply (doubling the color and density of the image, just like sandwiching two slides together).  Place the layer mask over this and then paint in the too bright areas.

There is also dodging and burning but forget the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop.  I have always found them to give too much color shift.  Make an action to do this:

Go to Layers/New/ (this seems to be the only way to bring up this last menu.)
You get a menu for layer name and rest.  You can name this layer to Dodge and Burn but also change the Mode to Overlay.  This will also change a check box at the bottom to Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray).  Check this and click OK.  Now with this layer you can use the paint brush and white and black color to dodge and burn.  Pick a soft edge brush and reduce the opacity down to 10%.  If you want to darken use black and just paint in some darkening.  If you want to brighten an area use white.  Make a mistake just paint over it with an opposite color.

The last thing you can try is create a Lummie Mask.  As much as I hate remembering too many shortcuts here is one more. (I have this in my card index so if I need it I can look it up.  Otherwise I would overload my brain and have to pin my home address to the dash so I can find my way home).

Push all at the same time Ctrl-Alt-Shift-~  (that last thing is a Tithe which is the funny sniggle that on my keyboard is over the accent key next to the 1.)  This will make a selection of just the high tones in an image.  You will see the little marching ants of a selection right away.  Now go to the channel pallet and save this selection in case you want to go back.  With this selection active you can go to Quick Mask and edit it in case you want some white or high tone in the image.  Once you have this mask the way you want then you can go to levels or curves and adjust the tone and density.

Long post but with three ways to go this should be a help. :cool:
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RichardM
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2004, 07:14:06 AM »
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Split ND filters are something that I often use in the field, when the landscape suits it; however, when there are mountains or trees sticking up, I think that digital blending is a better solution. I don't like the effect when the ND gradient darkens objects that project into the sky. I find that this looks artificial and it certainly reveals your use of the filter. Digital blending also allows you to fine tune the relative exposures much more precisely to get a natural looking result (if that is your objective).

Granted both of these approaches have to be done at the time of the exposure, so the are of no help when you get your exposure wrong. This in my opinion is one of the biggest advantages of digital capture. You can check your histogram, to make sure you didn't blow out any details.

Richard
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2004, 10:05:09 AM »
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And if you you know in advance you're going to have problems with dynamic range and are willing to consider the composite technique, there is an interesting technique that eliminates the need to manually "paint" various areas of the shot. I just recently came across this and haven't had the opportunity to try it out in an extreme situation. I did give it a go in a couple of less-extreme situations, and found I had to use a couple of curves that were quite different than described in the technique, but it's easy to expirement...


http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/DynamicRanger.html

Also, I don't recall if anyone mentioned it, but Fred Miranda has an inexpensive Dynamic Range Increase (DRI) plug in. It's predicated on 2 exposures, but if you shoot raw, you can convert once underexposed and once overexposed then use the DRI to process them.
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PhotoMarkArt
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2003, 02:27:59 PM »
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Can anyone give me step by step directions to mimick a 1 or 2 stop split graduated neutral density filter in Photoshop?  I have many great landscape shots that got blown out with too much light in the sky portion.  Mostly mirror reflected lakes with mountains in the background.
Thanks!
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RichardM
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2003, 08:18:52 PM »
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Another option is to duplicate your background layer, mask out the foreground on the new layer then overlay your isolated sky as a second copy on top of the first using the Multiply overlay mode. You can adjust the opacity to fine tune the effect or if needed use more copies of the sky.

This technique can rescue a bit more contrast in your sky rather than taking a basically white sky and turning it into a grey sky.

Richard
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victoraberdeen
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« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2003, 01:01:23 AM »
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And that has never been done in a dark room! yea right!

Try using the levels control.
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leonvick
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« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2003, 06:42:20 PM »
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Can anyone give me step by step directions to mimick a 1 or 2 stop split graduated neutral density filter in Photoshop? I have many great landscape shots that got blown out with too much light in the sky portion. Mostly mirror reflected lakes with mountains in the background.
Thanks!
Until someone makes a film or digital sensor with a ten-stop (?) latitude, there is no way in PS you can save shadow and highlight detail that are lost (and gone forever).

If you really want to do it right, either get the filter and use it or make two exposures and combine them using the Fred Miranda action or Michaels's tutorial on "Understanding Digital Blending".

If you just want to darken your (blown-out?) sky relative to your (absent?) shadow detail you can overlay a gradient on a new layer using the Multiply blending mode. Tweak the gradient properties to get the effect you want. This can be a handy technique in less drastic situations as well.
 
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Leon
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2003, 03:21:30 AM »
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Leon has the best answer to this problem: 'If you really want to do it right, either get the filter and use it or make two exposures and combine them using the Fred Miranda action or Michaels's tutorial on "Understanding Digital Blending".'
Please read Michael's excellent tutorial.
Regards
Ken
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larryg
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2004, 08:11:38 PM »
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I was in Yosemite last week shooting with my new digital
camera.

Great learning tool.  By trial and error I used different variations of split ND filters and exposure compensations to come up with a winning image.  I ended up sandwiching two split ND filters.  USing slide film would have been really dicey.
The right answer is do it right in the camera, but this (at least to me) is one of the most challenging techniques, if done correctly.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2004, 09:54:00 AM »
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Again, assuming you have some data to deal with, this technique brings out some good contrast and darkens the sky...

selelct the sky
Layers; New Fill Layer; Solid Color
Color= gray
Mode= color burn
When the Color Picker comes up set H,S,B to 0
With the "B" Radio Button active, and the cursor in B use the up/down arrows until you achieve the effect you want
Check the boundary between the sky and land, and if the transaction is too extreme use a bit of gaussian blur on the layer mask.

Note: If this technique is used aggressively it can create a bit of noise. I save the initial selection and later on call it back and use a bit of smart blur to smooth out the noise in the sky. Also it will bring out every last speck of dust on the sensor...
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Malcolm MacGarvin
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2004, 03:44:59 PM »
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My tip - though no doubt others have discovered it as well - is that while digital blending is often thought to require a tripod, with care and providing there is nothing too close to the camera, it is usually possible to do this handheld, providing that you take a sufficient number of images (I usually do 4) at each exposure. This allows you to choose the combination that requires the least amount of cropping-out of non-overlapping areas, gaps at the boundary etc.

See, for example, images from Avebury stone circle, UK, such as 'Circle sarsen, S side of circle' on the Avebury page at
http://homepage.mac.com/macgarvin/Menu15.html
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