Graduated ND filter for sunset portraits?

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musicmaster New Member • Posts: 23
Graduated ND filter for sunset portraits?

I've been having more and more friends come to me for engagement photos over the past year or two. One thing that I have always struggled with is portraits shooting into the sunset (see below). Even if I underexpose 1/3 or 2/3 stop, I still get blown highlights (even with RAW).

After trying HDR images, it just doesn't work - I get ghosting of the people in the photos.

I realize that many people use flash to compensate. The issue is that sometimes I literally can't (getting a full body shot with the landscape in the background) and/or a lot of these photos aren't exactly accessible. A lot of the shots we do are a 10 minute hike or so from the parking lot -- not really keen on bringing a tripod/flash/diffuser setup.

That leaves me considering a graduated ND filter. From my understanding this should help bring down the brightness in the sky. Is this correct and would be something useful to add to my bag?

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