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Author Topic: which grads do you find yourself using  (Read 3965 times)
bwana
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« on: April 06, 2012, 06:28:36 PM »
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soft or hard? sure the hard grad provides a nice line for seascape horizons or out in the desert, but in  mountainous terrain soft grads work great for me. i am headed though to a flat place and am wondering if the soft grads will be a problem. i cannot imagine how they would be but i am asking for some shared experience that might reveal anything i overlooked.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2012, 09:11:17 AM »
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Hi,

Graduated filter in Lightroom and this technique when that fails: http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/46-fixing-sky-with-luminosity-mask

I used graduated filters in my film days but I don't feel they are needed in the digital era.

Best regards
Erik

soft or hard? sure the hard grad provides a nice line for seascape horizons or out in the desert, but in  mountainous terrain soft grads work great for me. i am headed though to a flat place and am wondering if the soft grads will be a problem. i cannot imagine how they would be but i am asking for some shared experience that might reveal anything i overlooked.
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bwana
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 10:52:20 AM »
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thank you erik- i actually read that page yesterday (my google skills improve daily).  but i dismissed it because it does not improve detail capture. although it will darken a sky, it doesnt add clouds that the sensor could not capture. that is why i am still dealing with filters.
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MarkL
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2012, 03:51:52 PM »
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With slide film I used a 0.6 and 0.9 a lot, sometimes stacked for 1.2. Now with digital I stitch and expose the 'sky' frames accordingly and have more DR so grads have been sold. Always used soft grads (lee), I have seen way too many landscapes even at exhibition with visible grad lines.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 02:52:59 PM »
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Hi,

On that day there were no clouds to catch.

There are a couple of reasons I don't use grad filters any longer. One was that the ones I used actually reduced image quality noticably, the other that I felt that I don't that often have straight skylines in my images.

A correctly exposed digital image contains an incredible lot of detail. The problem is that if we fit it into the dynamic range of screen or paper it will be very flat. So we need to compress the tonal range in a way that looks right.

Graduated filters can be applied in LR, but they have the same limitation as graduated optical filters. The technique I describe doesn't only make the image  darker but also increases and decreases contrast in the sky. Multiply increases and the luminosity mask decreases. The real advantage of the luminosity mask is that it follows contours perfectly.

Here is a sample showing how much information can be extracted from a single image using HDR-mapping and the luminosity mask in combination.

http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/63-lot-of-info-in-a-digital-image

Best regards
Erik



thank you erik- i actually read that page yesterday (my google skills improve daily).  but i dismissed it because it does not improve detail capture. although it will darken a sky, it doesnt add clouds that the sensor could not capture. that is why i am still dealing with filters.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 02:55:47 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Justin Berman
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 08:30:46 AM »
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thank you erik- i actually read that page yesterday (my google skills improve daily).  but i dismissed it because it does not improve detail capture. although it will darken a sky, it doesnt add clouds that the sensor could not capture. that is why i am still dealing with filters.

Bwana, you can shoot a bracket and then use the luminosity masking technique in order to restore details. Basically, shoot at correct exposure (neglecting the sky blowout), shoot a second frame to capture the sky exposed correctly. Edit both frames to ensure they are both matched white balance, contrast, etc. Pull both frames into PS with the correct sky exposure on top and create a luminosity mask. Easily allows restoration of cloud detail.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 01:54:48 PM »
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I use grads all the time, and I also make extensive use of graduated filters Lightroom (I'm guessing 75% of my final images have at least one graduated filter) as well as other techniques in Photoshop.  With Graduated filters I even sometimes bracket, and then using layers and masks in Photoshop to compensate for areas above the "skyline".

Their are circumstances where capturing the sky and foreground with a different shutter speed or f stop just doesn't look as good as using a graduated filter.  I've shot things both ways and I do it both ways, but there really is something magic about a seascape using a couple of grads on the sky so the clouds blur like the water.

My most common used filters are  Lee .6 soft and hard as well as a .9 soft and hard.  I'm not sure I've ever used the .3.  Often if I use the .6 or .9  I end up with a graduated filter in Lightroom as well.  I also frequently use two graduated filters stacked, usually a .9 hard and a .6 soft adjusting first the soft grad, then adding the hard grad.

If you are interested here are several examples of images of mine that use either graduated filters or Lightroom to balance the sky and foreground.  About 1/3rd of these images have been taken using grads, the other's all adjusted in Lightroom.  Only a couple are exposure stacks, with my Medium format system I usually have plenty of dynamic range to get a good image just using the graduated filter tool in LR.
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Dan Berg
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 06:56:07 PM »
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I have the Lee SW 150 for my Nikon 14-24 with the 0.6 hard.
It was expensive but really is the cats meow for that lens.
Would like to get the 0.6 soft but Lee is really back logged.
This week is the first time shooting full frame with this lens and new D800E.
Images to follow.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2012, 02:20:35 PM »
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When I use Graduated Neutral Density Filters (which is not often these days), I use soft edged Lee and Sinar. The Lee, Sinar, Hi-Tech (Formatt in the UK) grads are made to the same formulas but are different physical thicknesses.

Avoid Cokin.
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
MarkL
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 09:22:23 AM »
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Probably worth mentioning hard vs soft depends a lot of the manufacturer eg. I *think fomatt's hard was similar to soft from other brands. It also depends on the lenses you use, a soft grad with a longer lens will be really soft.
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