Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Started May 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
Klarno Veteran Member • Posts: 4,170
I combine screw-in GND filters with post-processing.

I use a screw-in filter (Tiffen HT grad ND 0.6, the only screw-in grad that's both multicoated and glass). If you do use screw-in filters, you need to make sure that the filter has a very soft gradation-- because there'd be nothing worse than a hard edged gradation starting in the wrong part of the image. The last image I used a GND filter in was this one here:

You can see hints of the gradation starting halfway up the image. You probably wouldn't have noticed if it weren't for my pointing it out. The corners are dark because of vignetting I added in post.

The classical goal of using GND filters with slide film is to get everything right the second you take the image, because with slides there is no post processing. However, a RAW image has a latitude approaching that of negative film, just in the opposite direction. You have loads of usable information in the shadows, so why not use it?

My goal when using GND filters in digital photography is to compress the dynamic range of a scene just enough that I don't run into banding or excessive noise when I push the shadows. It's to get more information when I need it, and I don't need it all the time, so I don't use the GND filter all the time. Just when there's a large difference in brightness between sky and foreground.

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