Graduated Filters

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JSD, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. JSD

    JSD TPF Noob!

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    I would appreciate hearing about any or all pros and cons in regards to using a graduated filter on camera, versus using the tool in Photoshop, or as in my case, Lightroom.
    I am thinking doing it in Lightroom means one less thing to tote around, and one less layer of potentially dirty glass in front of my lens. What might other issues be?
    Thanks, JSD
     
  2. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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  3. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I am no LR expert so this may be my problem, but I have found it much easier to get the graduated effect I need from using a filter than trying it in software.
     
  4. CraniumDesigns

    CraniumDesigns TPF Noob!

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  5. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What you are talking about is no real substitute. In Lightroom when you apply this tool to darken the sky or increase the foreground you are doing just that, lightening or darkening part of an image with a pre-defined dynamic range. It won't allow you to recover a blown out sky or black foreground, which is exactly what this type of technique aims at providing.

    The filter on the other hand has the effect of compressing the dynamic range of the light itself and allowing your camera to achieve it's full dynamic range potential, darkening the bright sky and often providing more detail in the process.

    The digital substitute for this would be as described in the other thread, taking 2 images with different brightness's and blending them together using a gradient map. The obvious downside to this is the effort, and the fact that it doesn't work on moving subjects.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    On one hand, Garbz is correct. You can't necessarily recover data that isn't already in the exposure of your shot. So using a grad filter can help you to even out the lighting of a scene before it is recorded by the camera.

    On the other hand, filters aren't very adjustable. With most filters, it's either on or off...and with a square grad filter, at least you can slide it up & down over the lens. But with software, anything you do is infinitely adjustable. You can change the degree of the effect, you can change the position & rotation of the effect...pretty much anything you want.
    I do like the grad filter effect in LR, but even that has the same detriment of physical filters in that it's a straight line. I shoot a lot of mountains, which aren't straight. So if I want to apply a filter effect, I might use a layer mask or something like that. Or to do it quickly in LR, I might use the adjustment brush.
     
  8. JSD

    JSD TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input. Mostly what I want are slight adjustments to correct exposure, not so much any attempt to recover blown out highlights. Once they blown, they blown.
     
  9. JSD

    JSD TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input. As I mentioned in my reply to the above, I mostly just want to make minor adjustments, not any attempt at blow-out recovery. I think I'll stick with LR for now. Thanks
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you're not going at this with the attitude to achieve a compressed dynamic range to fit into your image, then yes a filter is pointless.

    The Lightroom effect would suit well, is more adjustable and can be mixed with the exposure painting tool as well to get around the straight line gradient problem of the filter.
     

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