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Author Topic: Landscape photography with or wiithout ND grad filters  (Read 2904 times)
cyron123
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« on: May 01, 2013, 07:41:31 AM »
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Hi guys,

i think about to buy a Leica M system. As said in the other thread it ist small and the weight isn't very high. But i think landscape photography is nothing without filters like ND grad filters or polarizer. But with a M system there could be some problems with that kind of filters. What do you think? ND grad on Leica M? Polarizer on M? Possible?

Is landscape photgraphy possible without these filter types?

Thank you.
Cyron
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2013, 11:20:33 AM »
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IMO you'll want polarization but I wouldn't worry about grads. I carried a set of ND grads for decades but stopped using them completely a few years after going digital. Exposure blending makes it possible to get more natural transitions in images with irregular boundaries between light and dark areas, like when trees project up into the sky, and works as well as ND filters for other images. Yes, it makes you spend more time in Photoshop, but then your image doesn't depend on quickly getting everything perfect under what can be less than ideal conditions in the field.
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 11:26:26 AM »
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I also subscribe to the get the polarizer and lose the ND grads. I use to use the ND grads when shooting large format and while it added to the experience they were less than ideal in a lot of situations. I would however suggest that you get at least a one and/or a two stop ND filter (I find the two and three stop NDs most useful for landscapes) and if possible one of the variable ND filters on the market. Like the polarizing filter, the ND will be required for various situations, especially when dealing with slow shutter speeds for moving water, etc.

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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PeterAit
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 11:47:15 AM »
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I have been doing landscape photography for several decades and I have never needed or wanted an ND filter.
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Peter
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2013, 12:30:48 PM »
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Hi Peter,

Perhaps our styles of landscape photography differ. But there's no denying that tons of landscape photographers use them. Especially if shooting water in bright overcast days when ISO 100 and f22 still let too much light in to create appealing water blurs. Physically impossible to do without a ND filter (but I suppose you could use a polarizer to lose up to 2 stops of light).

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2013, 12:44:21 PM »
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... the ND will be required for various situations, especially when dealing with slow shutter speeds for moving water, etc.

Cheers!

True, but a couple alternatives exist. If the dynamic range of the camera is adequate, a single exposure can be processed once for highlights and once for shadows, and then blended. Another alternative is to use a normal round screw-in ND filter (not a graduated one) of appropriate size to get the or blur you want on the water and blend that with either a non-ND exposure or a different exposure through the ND filter for the rest of the scene. I do carry a couple values of screw-in ND filters, which are considerably smaller, lighter, and easier to handle without fingerprints than rectangular grads.
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2013, 01:01:54 PM »
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Hey Dean,

Yeah I was referencing only straight ND filters. At that point in my post I wasn't talking about grad ND filters. Smiley  I'm in total agreement that I find the use of grad NDs of limited use.

As for blending two exposures, it's not going to work if there's too much light to achieve a slow enough shutter speed to blur water. Using the blending exposure method you would be able to ensure that you don't blowout highlights on the water but, depending of course on how fast the water is flowing, your won't be able to achieve silky-ish water if the slowest shutter speed you can achieve is 1/60 or faster (for example).

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2013, 01:57:02 PM »
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Hey Dean,
Yeah I was referencing only straight ND filters.
Cheers!

Doh! Sorry. I was reading "grad" even though that's not what you said. Apparently I haven't had enough caffeine today.
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2013, 03:26:23 PM »
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Dean,

No worries! It's all good. Smiley Mmmm. Caffeine!

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 10:16:23 PM »
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Never use Grads nor polarizers for landscape photography.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 03:08:07 AM »
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Never use Grads nor polarizers for landscape photography.

It might be useful to less experienced photographers who might be reading this thread to say whether you use an alternative such as exposure blending, or just rely on the dynamic range of the sensor to capture enough data in one exposure.

Personally I do often find that there is plenty enough information in one take to balance skies and land, but then I'm not known as a landscape photographer.  Plus I am very lazy!

Jim
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 03:29:26 AM »
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It might be useful to less experienced photographers who might be reading this thread to say whether you use an alternative such as exposure blending, or just rely on the dynamic range of the sensor to capture enough data in one exposure.
The implication you seem to be making is that there is always some sort of issue with DR in a landscape image.
That's not the case.
Photographers were shooting great landscapes on film and before GND filters had been invented. Many still make great landscape photographs with minimal intervention.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 04:55:36 AM »
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The implication you seem to be making is that there is always some sort of issue with DR in a landscape image.
That's not the case.
Photographers were shooting great landscapes on film and before GND filters had been invented. Many still make great landscape photographs with minimal intervention.


Not at all.  One wouldn't even consider using a ND grad if the dynamic rage was not too great.  I'm assuming the post is about what you do when the DR is quite large - therefore stretching what is possible with a single capture.  theguywitha645 is quite an experienced landscape photographer and I love some of his pictures, so I thought it would be illuminating to know how he overcomes DR limitations.  Of course the answer could be that he only shoots in less contrasty conditions.

My landscape pictures are all done without any great intervention - as I said, I am quite lazy. I take your point about the good old days of film and pre- ND grads, two thirds of my photo-life was pre-digital.  ND grads and exposure blending are just two tools to enable more choices - a good thing I think.

Jim
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 07:02:43 AM »
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Modern DSLRs rarely need more than one exposure to cover the required DR in landscape scenes. Just expose to the right within the known behavior of your camera and lift shadows in post with a leading raw conversion software like C1 Pro 7, DxO 8 or LR4.

When in doubt, it is a breeze to shoot 3 images 2 stops away from each other and to blend them in PS using masks (or with an HDR software if you are brave enough to trust them/willing to spend the time required to learn). I haven't felt the need to do that for more than 4 years though (D3x/D800).

The problems with ND grads are:
- The transition is rarely at the right location/of the right gradient/matching the shape of the horizon line,
- As all filters, they generate flare problems,
- They add complexity to the shooting when time is often of essence.

But they are inexpensive, so why not comparing single exposure+post-processing/multiple exposure/ND grad and pick the option that works best for you?

Cheers,
Bernard
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Paul2660
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 07:36:49 AM »
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If you shoot in and around water both a ND filter and polarizer will be very handy.  I don't know of any software solution yet that will remove "glare" from water, rocks etc. as  polarizer will.  I find I use them less for skies as modern digital cameras seem to have enough Dynamic range and with ultra wides, a polarizer is pretty much impossible to keep even on a sky (especially a solid blue one).  I also will use a polarizer on a bright day, with intense sun as it will help to take the glare off of the leaves and pull back a bit of the color.  On a dull day, this issue is not as important.  When working fall foliage, the addition of a polarizer can help make the colors stand out better, depending on your angle to the light.

ND is always in my bag, as again with water, I have don't know of any camera with enough DR to allow me to shoot at 1 second to 10 seconds.  I don't like the freeze look of water when taken at a faster exposure unless I am shooting water action shots, Kayakers, skiers etc.  A ND will allow you to get much more control over slower exposures without having to dial into a aperture of F16 or higher where you start to see diffraction issues. 

ND grads, as many have already posted can be troublesome.  I like them at times when working early morning/late evening to help mange light.  However if you have trees or other subjects close up, they can be overly darkened by the grad so the shot is very subject dependent.  I like the reverse grads also. 

The D800 many times allows a single frame to be worked, where in the past I would have needed 3 with my Canon's.   This is due to the lack of ability of the Canon's to pull up shadows without excessive noise.  The ability to pull up a shot as much as 2.75 of a stop without excessive noise is still very impressive to me. 

Paul Caldwell
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013, 12:03:16 PM »
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It might be useful to less experienced photographers who might be reading this thread to say whether you use an alternative such as exposure blending, or just rely on the dynamic range of the sensor to capture enough data in one exposure.

Personally I do often find that there is plenty enough information in one take to balance skies and land, but then I'm not known as a landscape photographer.  Plus I am very lazy!

Jim

No, I use no other technique beyond the control of exposure and post-processing. When the scene contrast does not match the DR of the camera, I make choices in the exposure on where the highlights and shadows will go. I don't mind deep shadows.

Personally, what I find the fun in photography is capturing the world in one image and how the limits of the photographic process transforms that experience. DR is one of those interesting limits.

While I sometimes think it is also laziness, I have not been as happy with my work with more complex techniques. I know some really good photographers that use those techniques and do excellent work, but for me, the magic comes from working in the basic limits. More involved techniques takes some of the spontaneity and serendipity out of my work.
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markmullen
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« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2013, 05:22:20 PM »
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I'm going to go against the flow here and admit I prefer to use grads, a full set of Lee grads forms an important part of my kit, I prefer to get as much done in camera as possible, and grads help that. There are times of course when multiple exposures and blending are preferable and I will use it but I've been using grads long enough that I find them quick and easy to use.
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2013, 06:02:26 PM »
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For those who still use ND grads, I used a little trick to help set them up quicker. I used to use HiTech filers in the Cokin P filter holder. Sometimes it was difficult seeing where the hard (or sometimes soft) edge sat, especially in certain lighting. What I did was place a piece of black cardboard in the slot in front of the filter. I then could slide the black piece of cardboard to where the edge was to speed up the process and get things more accurate. And it's one of those things that's really difficult to forget to remove before you press the shutter release cable because half of your ground glass is black. Smiley Hopefully that tip may help someone.

Cheers!
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2013, 01:29:04 AM »
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No, I use no other technique beyond the control of exposure and post-processing. When the scene contrast does not match the DR of the camera, I make choices in the exposure on where the highlights and shadows will go. I don't mind deep shadows.

Personally, what I find the fun in photography is capturing the world in one image and how the limits of the photographic process transforms that experience. DR is one of those interesting limits.

While I sometimes think it is also laziness, I have not been as happy with my work with more complex techniques. I know some really good photographers that use those techniques and do excellent work, but for me, the magic comes from working in the basic limits. More involved techniques takes some of the spontaneity and serendipity out of my work.

Thanks for that - I see we have a similar mind in this.  Most of my photography is of people out on location and I too like to keep it as simple as possible, especially with lighting.

Jim
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