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Author Topic: Grad ND vs. blending in PS?  (Read 17394 times)
mwalters
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« on: December 26, 2005, 05:31:51 PM »
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I shoot with a D60. I was just getting ready to put down about $500 on a Lee foundation kit, some adapter rings, .3/.6/.9 hard grad ND filters, and a .6 ND. After some reading it seems like a lot of people shooting digital just do blended exposures now. Is that really as good as shooting through graduated ND filters? I don't want to waste my money if it can be better spent elsewhere. I also would like to try some longer exposures (motion and pan blurs) through a 2 or 3 stop ND. Is there a cheaper alternative to the Lee system if I'm not going to use any other filters? Thanks for the help and Happy New Year.

Regards,

Michael
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2005, 06:45:08 PM »
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When I switched to digital, I sold all of my filters except two; a 6-stop ND and a circular polarizer.  I use the ND to add exposure for things like moving water and I still find use for a polarizer on occasion -- and neither of those effects are easily replicated in PS.

As far as the SND filters, it is my opinion that you can blend more perfectly in PS since you can follow a more exact outline of the shape you are blending, as well as more easily choose the shading, color or effect you were after for the blend in the first place.  With the SND, your are stuck trying to blend along its straight line and as you've already discovered you need a selection of SND's to do this well.

Cheers,
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mwalters
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2005, 07:03:50 PM »
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Thanks Jack.  Maybe I should practice a bit more with my blending techniques.  The problem I have here in Hawaii is difficulty in blending due to winds, waves, and quick moving clouds.

Regards,

Michael
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2005, 07:38:09 PM »
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Another reason why using a grad density filter with an APS sized sensor DSLR is not that great is the small size of the viewfinder. I tried a couple of times back when I used a D100, and found it difficult to locate accurately the filter.

The only drawback of the multiple exposure method is that you basically have to use a tripod, which isn't always mandatory with a filter.

Regards,
Bernard
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2005, 08:15:34 PM »
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The problem I have here in Hawaii is difficulty in blending due to winds, waves, and quick moving clouds.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54357\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

While capturing two or more images to blend is certainly the preferred method, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish by processing the same raw file with 2 different exposure settings...  

,
« Last Edit: December 26, 2005, 08:18:36 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2005, 09:25:24 PM »
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The problem I have here in Hawaii is difficulty in blending due to winds, waves, and quick moving clouds.

Regards,

Michael
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Since I have never been to Hawai, I am not about the relevance of my comment, but I would have thought that the sky/sea is an easy subject for blending, much easier than a landscape with trees for instance.

Based on my experience in other locations, most fast moving clouds are generally high enough above the horizon line that the space between their lower part and the part of the see where waves are clearly visible is large enough to enable a mask gradient blending.

Am I missing something?

Regards,
Bernard
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mwalters
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« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2005, 10:11:15 PM »
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Thanks Bernard.  I don't think you've missed anything.  Those are some good ideas.  I think the problem I am having with clouds and water is trying to do numerous exposures and use HDR.  I think I'll try to concentrate on just a few quicker captures and then blend them.  I appreciate the comments.

Michael
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TimothyFarrar
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2005, 12:36:20 PM »
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Thanks Bernard.  I don't think you've missed anything.  Those are some good ideas.  I think the problem I am having with clouds and water is trying to do numerous exposures and use HDR.  I think I'll try to concentrate on just a few quicker captures and then blend them.  I appreciate the comments.

Michael
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There is another way to automatically blend images from multiple exposures (and still have the ability to manually adjust the blend via layer masks) involving motion such as moving waves and moving birds,



or moving clouds and waves,



even with extreme dynamic range,



And the best part is that it works inside Photoshop as a set of actions and scripts. Check it out,

[a href=\"http://www.farrarfocus.com/software.htm]Farrar Focus Digital Darkroom[/url]

- TImothy Farrar : farrarfocus.com
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Timothy Farrar
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RomanJohnston
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2005, 08:54:51 PM »
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Hi....new here. My opinion comes from the perspective of perfering the photoshop method. My perferred method is one RAW file ...stacking the two "Exposures" and using a Gradient tool on a layer mask.

I like not carrying around delicate filters, I like not setting them up (they get in the way of my "seeing" by making me concentrate on where the split line is....getting the adaptor rings on...etc.

I also prefer the ability to tune the splitline to shots that dont have straight horizions.

All forms of photography are valid....and I can only say what works for me.

Here are a few examples...the lighter areas would have been beyond the dynamic range of the camera.









Just offering proof of its usability.

Roman
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2005, 07:35:43 AM »
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I echo the views previously expressed - the issue of motion has often been cited as a reason for preferring gnd's over a bracket.  That's only an issue if the motion is happening across the transition boundary (or, eg clouds moving in an HDR shot).  Between Fred Miranda's DRI (Dynamic Range Increase - basically a script that automates the blending); the techniques described elsewhere on this site; a simple gradient blend, or the PS HDR there's usually an option that will work.  

The best practice is to bracket and if HDR doesn't work (usually due to motion), there's usually one that can go one over and one under (need to shoot RAW) for a manual or action based blend.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2005, 07:36:49 AM by Tim Gray » Logged
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2005, 10:44:18 AM »
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Hi....new here. My opinion comes from the perspective of perfering the photoshop method. My perferred method is one RAW file ...stacking the two "Exposures" and using a Gradient tool on a layer mask.

...

Here are a few examples...the lighter areas would have been beyond the dynamic range of the camera.
That is not accurate. Whenever and however you process a single exposure, you are by definition working within the dynamic range of the camera (or what you can extrapolate from it in a visually believable way, as in ACR's highlight recovery). The only way you can truly go beyond the dynamic range of the camera is by blending multiple bracketed exposures. Multi-processing a single RAW is merely a technique that allows one the use of all the dynamic range the camera has to offer.
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RomanJohnston
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2005, 11:24:45 AM »
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I understand what your saying....but I do know that I cannot replicate my results in .jpg in any way.

This has me thinking. I am guessing their is a benifit of processing the shot when in RAW mode and the editing overhead afforded.

Having a bit of an issue wrapping my mind around what exactly is happening.

And if the dynamic range of the camera is what it is....why cant I replicate the same results in .jpg?

Hummm...ok...thinking this thru.....do we measure a cameras DR capabilities by how much we can extract from a RAW file using techniques...or by how much we can get from one .jpg shot.

If it is the first way...I agree with your initial statment. If it is the second way....the technique I use would indeed "increase the dynamic range".

Roman

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That is not accurate. Whenever and however you process a single exposure, you are by definition working within the dynamic range of the camera (or what you can extrapolate from it in a visually believable way, as in ACR's highlight recovery). The only way you can truly go beyond the dynamic range of the camera is by blending multiple bracketed exposures. Multi-processing a single RAW is merely a technique that allows one the use of all the dynamic range the camera has to offer.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=54842\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2005, 12:00:03 PM »
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For anybody interested, I have a simple and automated but tweakable blending action available online for free download.

Instructions for use and links are here: http://www.getdpi.com/downloads.html

(If you like it after trying it, donations are welcome  )

Cheers and Happy New Year!
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TimothyFarrar
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2005, 12:33:59 PM »
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> And if the dynamic range of the camera is what it is....why cant I replicate the same results in .jpg?

Roman, think of it this way, your camera probably has a range of 0-4095 intensity shades per color channel (R,G, which get saved in a Raw file. Jpeg has 0-255, and has half the resolution for color. So Jpeg will carry less than 1/16 the information of a Raw file.

Think of dynamic range in this way. If you are taking a photo with a lot of dynamic range and getting clipping on the right of your histogram (the brights), you can always take a darker exposure to insure that there is no clipping. Meaning you get the full dynamic range of the image. The problem is that in doing so, your darks become too noisy.

So the issue of dynamic range is really an issue of noise in the dark regions of the image. Using Raw gives you more information in the darks to work with, and thus less noise and better resulting dynamic range.

NOTE, this is an over-simplification not taking into account color space of Raw vs Jpeg files and the linearity of CCD and CMOS sensors, but the point is still valid.

- Timothy Farrar : farrarfocus.com
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Timothy Farrar
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2005, 12:34:54 PM »
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I understand what your saying....but I do know that I cannot replicate my results in .jpg in any way.

This has me thinking. I am guessing their is a benifit of processing the shot when in RAW mode and the editing overhead afforded.
Bingo. In-camera JPEG conversion typically discards 1-2 stops of DR, so shooting JPEG is not the way to find out what your camera's capabilities are. Shooting RAW is the only way to take advantage of the camera's full color gamut and dynamic range. When shooting JPEGs, you throw away a considerable amount of both.
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Stealthfixr
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« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2006, 04:03:57 PM »
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I did some searches on this and went through my latest CS2 how-to book, and nothing I can find shows how to blend two images as you all are mentioning.  I even downloaded Jonathon's action above, but I am not sure how to get to the point where the action can be useful (overlapping layers of different images).  Can this be done from two different RAW conversions, one exposed for highlights and the other for shadows?

Any and all help would be very appreciated!

Mark
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2006, 04:22:55 PM »
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Yes.

You might want to look through the articles on this site.  I believe there is one that adresses this.
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TimothyFarrar
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« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2006, 12:23:05 PM »
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Here's a direct link.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorial...-blending.shtml
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Timothy Farrar
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RomanJohnston
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« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2006, 10:24:54 AM »
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I did some searches on this and went through my latest CS2 how-to book, and nothing I can find shows how to blend two images as you all are mentioning. I even downloaded Jonathon's action above, but I am not sure how to get to the point where the action can be useful (overlapping layers of different images). Can this be done from two different RAW conversions, one exposed for highlights and the other for shadows?

Any and all help would be very appreciated!

Shoot me an e-mail and I will be happy to supply you with a tutorial of a technique I use....it's very simple and works rather well....(and very fine tunable)

roman.johnston @ comcast.net 

(email address has gaps to prevent being scraped up by e-mail collecting programs.....just close the gaps.)

Mark
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Shoot me an e-mail and I will be happy to supply you with a tutorial of a technique I use....it's very simple and works rather well....(and very fine tunable)

roman.johnston @ comcast.net  

(email address has gaps to prevent being scraped up by e-mail collecting programs.....just close the gaps.)

Roman
« Last Edit: September 29, 2006, 10:26:10 AM by RomanJohnston » Logged

Tim Gray
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« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2006, 03:21:18 PM »
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easiest way (also good results)

dark layer with blocked shadows on the bottom
light layer with blown highlights on the top

top layer active then simultaneously press ctrl alt ~  

then delete

Once you see what's going on, you can get fancier by saving the selection as a mask etc. etc. etc.
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