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rgarrigus 10-09-2007 06:47 AM

ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
How many TE members out there use ND grads and how many try to do the same thing in Photoshop? I'm taking a course with <a href="">William Neil</a> who told me that he hasn't used an ND graduated filter in 10 years opting instead for combining images in post processing. For me that's a pretty strong endorsement for seriously investigating the post-processing approach.

Personally, I haven't been too successful doing it that way but I haven't really applied myself to figuring out how to do it well either. In my few attempts I have found that I have had a hard time avoiding halos where sky meets land and I find that combining shots where trees stick above the skyline looks unnatural. I'm sure that is only my ineptitude in Photoshop.

How are you all doing this when the need arises?


Bob G.

danielswalsh 10-09-2007 06:50 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
I use LEE brand Graduated ND filters Bob.

I prefer to do as much as I can on the camera as possible and leave less to Photoshop. However with that being said- fair enough there are times when it's too much of a pain in the ass to haul around the filter system or go through the hassles....

Combining images in Photoshop is commonly known as HDR. I've done quite a few myself.

All the best!
- Dan

danielswalsh 10-09-2007 06:54 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
Here's some samples for you Bob.

<a href="">Used an ND Grad</a>
<a href="">HDR</a>
<a href="">HDR</a>

Hope this helps,
- Dan

nickthegreek82 10-09-2007 07:55 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
I use ND grad filters as well! Only recently i bought a Cokin P121 filter for my Sigma 10-20 and i have to say i am impressed!
I have done some HDRs as well but i far prefer the filter. Yes it takes time to set it up but the results are really impressive.
Also you can have the result of the shot and the effect on the screen while you are out shooting.This is very important because
sometimes you can not tell what scene can make a good HDR.But now ,it is only a click away. For landscape shot i have it on , all the time.
Give it try!

PS : Stay away of Cokin filters , you can use Cokin system though , because sometimes they produce a color cast in the photos!

marioana 10-09-2007 08:08 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
Hi Bob.
I've been doing both. I don't have a clue about the Photoshop aproach to PP this way, but I use a programe called Photomatix which several people here use. It lets you create a HDR image from several exposures. But it's not very good for moving subjects and is particularly vulnerable to labdscapes on windy days. It's good on still days and with moving water. I've got some nice, natural results with it and really enjoy it. I've also just started using grads also. I love them too. They're great for wild weather and to keep it all natural, but can be combersome. So esentially they are both good, useful tools to have in the tool box. Hope this helps.
Best regards, Steve.

Keitht 10-09-2007 08:32 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
It is very easy to get horribly artificial results when combining versions of the same exposure to create a final HDR image. It is also potentially very time consuming. Producing far more realistic results by the use of ND grads can be done very quickly. With modern metering you may even get away without having to make any manual adjustments with the ND in place.
At worst the sequence is along the lines of - take meter reading from sky, take meter reading from land, calculate difference, insert and position ND grad, take photo. Assuming you have the filters and holder to hand the entire process can be completed in under a minute. I defy even the most proficient software user to create the same effect as quickly.

rgarrigus 10-09-2007 04:06 PM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
Thanks all for the great responses,

I have done the Photoshop two-image combination (un-HDR approach) and I also have Photomatix Pro. At this stage I prefer ND grads too but I have seen some really impressive Photoshopping by those more adept (and patient) than I. I use a Sekonic L-508 to meter during changing light situations so I don't have to fiddle with the camera much once the composition is chosen.

I guess I just felt like I was missing something when this uber-pro tells me he hasn't used ND grads in 10 years. His solution isn't even HDR per se but to simply layer two shots in PS (one exposed for sky and the other for foreground) and then erase the improperly exposed part.

There is a really interesting article on the subject here for anyone interested:

<a href="">Here</a>

Wishing you all great light. Cheers!

Bob G.

AdrianW 10-09-2007 06:10 PM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
I prefer the Photoshop/HDR approach myself; as it works well in situations where the horizon isn't a straight line. It also means I have to carry fewer things in my bag, which is always a bonus ;)

gibbsy 10-09-2007 07:20 PM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
I prefer to catch the sky as it is and would rather use nd grads than mess about into Photoshop. (Mind you if you seen how useless I was in PS then you'd probably understand). I use the excellent Lee filter system.

dougie 10-10-2007 11:48 AM

Re: ND grad filters vs. Photoshop?
ND filters do have their downside - the horrendous cost of the wide angle varieties, the space in the bag, the delicacy of them and the fact that you can't breathe near them on a cold morning.
Despite this I think that they produce the best results and the added advantage of that sense of achievement when you get it right, making the whole process more enjoyable. You could agrue as well that they bring out the best in all those expensive optics that you've invested in. As Keith says,it doesn't take long to use them and after a while you may know which one(s) you need to use instinctively, without the metering.

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