Speaking of filters... Neutral Density?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JTHphoto, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. JTHphoto

    JTHphoto TPF Noob!

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    When shooting landscapes during the "magic" hours, if I meter off the foreground it looks great but the sky is blown out, and if I meter the sky, it looks great but the foreground is too dark. I have tried making adjustments in PS but it always looks fake to me (still new to PS, maybe i'm just not doing it right).

    Anyway, I thought Split and/or Graduated ND filters were the solution to this problem, but I have been told a couple of times at camera stores that they were a waste of money (this doesn't make sense in itself - talking me out of a sale???)

    Does anyone have experience they can share or maybe even some examples of how to help me improve these types of photos - whether filters or PS techniques?
     
  2. j_mcquillen

    j_mcquillen TPF Noob!

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    Definitely NOT a waste of money!!!


    I can't understand why any camera shop sales-person would tell you this...


    It is possible to get around the problem with some clever digital trickery (taking two pictures of the same scene at different exposures - one for sky, and one for foreground, then combining them in photoshop, for example), but as you said, these always look false to me... Besides, what's the point of all that fiddling around when you can just slip an ND grad infront of the lens?


    Grad filters don't even have to be that expensive - the Cokin system for example has grey grads for around £12 in the UK... OK, so they're not true Neutral-density, but I've been using them for a while and never noticed any colour casts...


    My advice would be go out and get some... You'll be amazed at the difference they can make :D

     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    I have some, they do help get a better exposure with one shot. I used them with film but never really used it with digital. It takes practice and good techniques to duplicate the filter in Photoshop (and still have it look real).

    There is something to be said about getting it right in the camera...but that lacks the flexibility of doing it with software. I always hated trying to use the grad filter when there was something crossing the horizon from foreground into sky.
     
  4. KMac

    KMac TPF Noob!

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    Translation:
    1. We dont stock those and I dont feel like special ordering one for you.

    2. I dont know what that is.

    ;) ;) ;)
     
  5. Dave_D

    Dave_D TPF Noob!

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    I'm with the "worth it" camp as well. I also use the cokin system. Between lenses for 35mm, medium format and large format; the cokin P system is more convenient to have one set of filters and a hand full of adapter rings then alot of the same filters for all of the different lens sizes ( cheaper too!). I also use the cokin shades for the system to avoid lens flare.
     
  6. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Like a lot of thinks photographic, you either love 'em or hate 'em. I personally don't care for them. It seems that 90% of the time I can't get them to line up with my composition. Like a ocean sunset with a volcano on the horizon. It just won't work. I setup a pod, shoot for both the highs ad shadows and run a Fred Miranda action. Piece of cake.
     
  7. JTHphoto

    JTHphoto TPF Noob!

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    I really appreciate everyone's responses, it sounds like the cokin system is what a lot of TPFers use? and grad ND is worth a try? Anyone have any other input?

    i really have no idea what this is, but I would love to learn... :mrgreen:

    i'm guessing this one KMac... maybe i'm just shopping at the wrong stores :D

    This is like the volcano example from jstuedle right? this is the kind of situation where a graduated ND would be better than a split ND? that seems logical... with a split ND you would basically have to have a flat horizon right?
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, the volcano example is what I was referring to.

    A graduated would be better than a split in that case...but you would still be darkening part of the volcano along with the sky. With Photoshop, you can apply the filter effect to only the bright sky and control the blend and the exact degree of the filter. It's just a lot more flexible.

    Not to mention that with a filter, you are adding another piece of glass for the light to go through...which will degrade the image quality.
     
  9. hobbes28

    hobbes28 Incredible Supporting Member

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    Another option that you can look at is the drop in filter system that has a rubber/plastic holder that attaches to the filter ring on your camera and you drop in different filters that come in square pieces of glass. With that, you can hold an ND filter in the picture like a split filter but you can change where you want the horizon to be instead of straight down the middle as in the split round filters.

    I am also a firm believer in photoshop editing after the fact as well. It's all a matter of preference and what you're more comfortable with.
     
  10. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Have you tried getting a reading off the sky and getting a reading off the foreground and then choosing an exposure somewhere in between?
     
  11. JTHphoto

    JTHphoto TPF Noob!

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    yeah, i think i just need to spend more time in PS to improve my skills.

    Yes, I have done this, although not as much as I probably should. The sky is a little over blown and the foreground a little dark rather than a lot. Is this the best image to work with in PS?
     
  12. Kent Frost

    Kent Frost TPF Noob!

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    Filters are definitely your friend. They will help you to minimize MUCH digital editing in post, and will help create awesome effects that are quite difficult to pull off in post-production on the PC. For example, if you were to purchase a tobacco graded filter, you can get an effect similar to the following:

    [​IMG]

    Now although there was a little bit of post editing to get a match in depth and color in the foreground, the sky as it appears is from the original shot of the image. Neutral density filters can create similar effects, but without any changes in the original color. It's like having sunglasses for your camera, and makes normally bright light seem much less intense.

    However, as far as digitally assisted images seeming false, it all depends on how you do it. The usual way I've seen people do it, is to get zoomed in and try to fine-tune an image so that it seems seemless, however doing that will create a very fake sense to the overall image. What you want to do is take 2 images (as mentioned above), one exposed for the sky, and one for the foreground, of course. Then in the PC, layer one on top of the other, then erase the unwanted portion of the top layer so the underlying layer with the properly exposed portion shows through. The tool you want to use should be a large-cursored eraser that fades lightly as it goes out from the center. It will create almost exactly the same effect as using a graded filter, because the gradation on those filters go straight across the image, giving no forgiveness (for example) to trees that are reaching above the horizon and into the darker portion of the filter.

    I hope that makes sense. lol
     

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