Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Started May 6, 2014 | Discussions
Isabel Cutler
Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Graduated Neutral Density Filter

I know the idea would be to get an accessory holder and use the slip in filters - Cokin is what comes to mind, but I'd like not to have to take a lot of stuff when we go on vacation and was wondering if any of you has used a screw-in one to cut out extra sky brightness.

Tiffin has a few choices here, along with others.  I need the 62mm for the 12-40 lens.

Any opinions?  Examples?

Isabel

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Here's an article about their use
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Digital Dick Senior Member • Posts: 1,717
Re: Here's an article about their use

I carry a Cokin P filter holder and a Tiffen rectangular graduated ND filter but don't use it much any more. I find I get better results doing a -2, 0, +2 HDR bracket.

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sinkas Senior Member • Posts: 1,334
Re: Graduated Neutral Density Filter
1

I also use Cokin P holder with Hitech filters. This allows better alignment with the horizon than screw in filters. Having said that I mainly do this in post now.

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Sigurdur Stefan Jonsson Regular Member • Posts: 118
Re: Graduated Neutral Density Filter

If you don't want to carry lots of stuff on vacation (and who needs that!) you may want to simply consider adding a graduated filter in Photoshop after the fact. Occasionally you may need to take a couple of shots at different exposures if you have a really contrasty lighting situation.

It may be a more convenient solution. The effect of graduated filters on the camera lens varies depending on your focal length and f-stop. That limits your options. I find the Photoshop version much more controllable and more convenient.

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Ziggie

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cfh25 Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
Re: Graduated Neutral Density Filter

They can be a problem if the horizon is not straight or something is protruding. This dpr article shows the problem:

Grad ND

As it notes, using Google/Nik control points is a solution

Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Re: Yes...I do a lot of HDR (similation with one file)

....to deal with wide dynamic range. I use Topaz Adjust for the HDR simulation and it's pretty good.

I have Photomatix, as well, but haven't used that in years.

The very cheap DCE Tools ReDynaMix can do a fabulous job once you move the default garish settings down quite a bit!

Here's an example of extreme lighting processed with ReDynaMix:

Isabel

Bracketing would require a tripod and I'm too lazy to carry one - my back does not like carrying a lot of weight.

Isabel

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
They seems an easier way to go....

I LOVE editing my images with Photoshop (and Camera Raw) so for me that's a lot easier than carrying a holder and filters - Way less to fiddle with.

Isabel

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Re: Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Sigurdur Stefan Jonsson wrote:

If you don't want to carry lots of stuff on vacation (and who needs that!) you may want to simply consider adding a graduated filter in Photoshop after the fact. Occasionally you may need to take a couple of shots at different exposures if you have a really contrasty lighting situation.

It may be a more convenient solution. The effect of graduated filters on the camera lens varies depending on your focal length and f-stop. That limits your options. I find the Photoshop version much more controllable and more convenient.

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Ziggie

BRILLIANT idea - I have to work with graduated filters in Photoshop and hone my skill.  I know I have had trouble placing them correctly in Camera Raw, but am sure if I'm determined I may get better results!

Thanks.

Isabel

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Yup...Control Points :-)

What I love about photoediting is that there are so many ways to achieve the same goals and it's fun learning them.

Just have to be sure that you haven't completely blown out the sky!  Have to leave a few blinkies or you'll probably be in trouble.

Isabel

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Klarno
Klarno Veteran Member • Posts: 4,146
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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Digital Dick Senior Member • Posts: 1,717
Re: Yes...I do a lot of HDR (similation with one file)
1

I do the bracketing handheld all the time. I shoot the bracket in low burst mode. I use the great Auto Align feature in Photoshop to align the images and then use the Photoshop merge to HDR to generate a 32 bit image which I save as a TIF and process in Lightroom.

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Very skillful result! (nt)
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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Re: Yes...I do a lot of HDR (similation with one file)

I haven't had much luck with Photoshop's Merge to HDR.  I guess I could use some instruction.  The results I get look terrible.

Isabel

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Dheorl Veteran Member • Posts: 3,467
Re: Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Unless your wanting to do long exposures (which if you're not carrying a tripod I guess you're not), or using a big heavy lens you can get away with just a single middle of the range grad ND and simply holding it in front of the lens when you take the shot.

Also the holders really aren't that big, and if you leave the ND filter in the holder it's no more hassle than usual filters. Depending on your lenses you might even be able to get away with something smaller than P-type (is A-type the next one down or is there something else in the middle these days?)

Pete_CSCS Veteran Member • Posts: 3,584
What some do is...

... use a rectangular grad (Lee or Cokin e.g.) without the holder (you said you want to lose the bulk) by holding it against the rim of the lens front. Or you can tape it there. This way you can slide it up or down to meet the horizon whatever way you frame your image. And you saved the expense of the holder... and the extra bulk... and a big enough filter can be used for multiple lenses unlike screw-ins - now you saved even more money... and no filter frame to vignette which some screw-ins can cause.

The problem with screw-ins is the inability to move the filter's graduation to meet the horizon especially if you use the rule of thirds.

I was looking into getting a grad for the 12-40mm a few months ago.  The best screw-in grad filter I found was the Heliopan which uses Schott (Zeiss) glass, is available in 1, 2 or 3 stop versions and goes for around $100.

I decided not to buy it yet.  Bought a good CP in the meantime.  Will buy a Lee grad eventually.

Hope that helps!

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
Re: Thanks...will stick with PS and post-process...

The best for this lazy pack mule.

Isabel

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Isabel Cutler
OP Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 16,879
I have a 58mm Heliopan that I bought a few years ago....

and other than test it once or twice have never used it.

I think that's an indication about how much I will use a physical graduated ND filter!

Isabel

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Pete_CSCS Veteran Member • Posts: 3,584
Klarno are you sure about this?

Klarno wrote:

I use a screw-in filter (Tiffen HT grad ND 0.6, the only screw-in grad that's both multicoated and glass).

The Heliopan grads are made in Germany from Schott glass and most of their filters use a 16 layer coating. They also use the black anodized brass frames like B+W (Schneider) filters.

'When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at
his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.
Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two,
and I know it was not that blow that did it,
but all that had gone before.'
-- Jacob Riis (1849 - 1914)

Stay Well,
Pete K.

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Klarno
Klarno Veteran Member • Posts: 4,146
Re: Klarno are you sure about this?

Pete_CSCS wrote:

Klarno wrote:

I use a screw-in filter (Tiffen HT grad ND 0.6, the only screw-in grad that's both multicoated and glass).

The Heliopan grads are made in Germany from Schott glass and most of their filters use a 16 layer coating. They also use the black anodized brass frames like B+W (Schneider) filters.

'When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at
his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.
Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two,
and I know it was not that blow that did it,
but all that had gone before.'
-- Jacob Riis (1849 - 1914)

Stay Well,
Pete K.

Heliopan's website lists the ND grad as being plastic.

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