Grad filters vs. layer masks?

KongKurs

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Hi y'all

Being new to landscape photography, and new to Photoshop in general, I've recently realised the beauty of using graduated filters to expose both foreground and sky correctly...

But now I just learned how to do this in Photoshop, by doubleexposing and mixing the 2 photos with layer masks.

But now I just wonder: why even bother using filters then?

David Noton and many other still use graduated filters, but aren't these close to redundant when using PhotoShop?
 

Arch

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Not really no... i wouldn't be happy to blend layers without using a tripod to capture and at the moment i'd say the majority of my landscapes are handheld.

I also think you can get more atmosphere in the image from using filters, the way it changes the light matters, in comparison to the 'flat' kind of light which often emerges from blending perfectly exposed layers.

Thats just my opinion tho, you can quite easily take a tripod where ever you go and achieve good results.
 
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KongKurs

KongKurs

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OK, but still, the biggest pro I can find to using filters, is the effect of passing clouds obtained with long exposures. This I guess will not work really when meshing multiple exposed photos.

But my main problem with graduated filters is that you seldomly has a completely horizontal line across the photo - which means that mountains, trees, buildings etc. gets "dark-cropped"..

It is often a compromise between soft or hard edge - giving either a beautiful sky or natural-looking trees in the foreground.. Which both can be obtained by multiexposing and meshing...
 
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KongKurs

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I also think you can get more atmosphere in the image from using filters, the way it changes the light matters, in comparison to the 'flat' kind of light which often emerges from blending perfectly exposed layers.

Agreed, BTW.
It has to be subtle.
Many HDR-photos seem very unnatural...
 

rambler

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Also add solid ND filters. They can be fun to use at sunrise when the sun is newly up. They cut down on the light allowed in, so the exposure time is longer and you can really control the dynamic range looking right into the brightest area of sky especially using 6D and higher up to the “Big Stopper “10D and beyond! Still the rough waters
 

Strodav

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I use both techniques. I have a Lee 100mm filter kit with ND as well as soft gradient filters of various densities. When my backpack starts getting too full or heavy, I'll leave them at home and bracket my HDR shots then combine in PS. I prefer to get it right in camera, especially if things are moving around a bit, but a little PP magic can yield good results as well.
 

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OK, but still, the biggest pro I can find to using filters, is the effect of passing clouds obtained with long exposures. This I guess will not work really when meshing multiple exposed photos.

But my main problem with graduated filters is that you seldomly has a completely horizontal line across the photo - which means that mountains, trees, buildings etc. gets "dark-cropped"..

It is often a compromise between soft or hard edge - giving either a beautiful sky or natural-looking trees in the foreground.. Which both can be obtained by multiexposing and meshing...

In a perfect static world using multiple layers to blend would be an ideal situation, but landscapes are not perfectly still, clouds move, leaves move, grass moves, blending multiple shots as layers can be problematic.

As to the filters any line created by the GD, that's why I use square glass, in a holder which gives me the ability to stack multiple densities, rotate for effect, and even add color correction for B&W (though typically I do that post if needed).
 

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