Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
Thira New Member • Posts: 6
Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

I plan shortly to visit the Grand Canyon.

I plan to shoot sunrise and sunsets with a Graduated ND Lee filter.

My equipment:

Silk Graphite tripod with RRS ball

Canon M50 Mark ll

Lenses:

Canon EF-M 15mm-45mm

Canon EF-M 55mm-200mm

Adapter for:

Canon EFS 110-22mm

Tamron Piezo Drive VC 16-300mm

Filters:

LEE 100x150mm 0.6 Grad ND

Lee 100 x 150mm Grad ND

Lee 100 Sunset 2

Lee 100 Big Stopper

Lee 100 Little Stopper

B&W Circular PL for all lens

My question if using the EF-m 55-200 or EFS 10-22

If I shoot with AV setting, F9 or F11, ISO 100, and use both the O.6 and 0.9 Grad ND, this should change my exposure by 5 stops (2 more stops if a Circular Polarizer is used).

In the scenario given :

1- what is the correct method to find the right exposure?  Use the histogram and change the exposure until proper?

2- Is there a way to lock automatic focus, or should I manually do it? I like spot metering, and touching my LED screen to set the focus.

3-When is the proper time to focus?

Thanks so much in advance for the anticipated response.  I am an amateur who reads a lot.  Do not want to mess up my opportunity for some great shots.

RP

Canon EOS M50 (EOS Kiss M)
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OP Thira New Member • Posts: 6
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

I also was going to try HDR

mfinley
mfinley Senior Member • Posts: 4,963
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
6

Thira wrote:

Do not want to mess up my opportunity for some great shots.

RP

Bracket your exposures, sometimes there is no one right exposure with sunset/sunrises. Histograms are going to be buried off the charts with sunrise/sunset, the dynamic range will exceed the camera sensor's ability to record the entire range.

This is a digital camera, no making exposures and then sending film off to be developed after your trip and finally seeing the results a week later. Expose, look at the camera back, look at your results, adjust...

A polarizer isn't going to do you much good at sunrise, sunset with sun toward the middle of the frame, it will just be acting as an ND and reducing image quality.

3 stacked filters? Lot of image quality reduction, lots of flare with sun in the frame

The time to focus is anytime before the exposure is made as long as the camera doesn't move between focus and exposure

Thira wrote:

Do not want to mess up my opportunity for some great shots.

The sun rises and sets every day between now and your trip, time to get out there and do some test shooting some sunrises and sunsets before the trip and get yourself dialed in now not struggling while at the Grand Canyon. Remember you have a digital camera - instant results, very easy to shoot/examine results, shoot / examine results, repeat as necessary to answer questions and learn your camera and make your mistakes now not during that once in a life-time perfect sunrise at the Grand Canyon.

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BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,268
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
1

The simple way to use a GND is just expose for the scene without it. When you add the GND, it under-exposes the sky by that many stops. If the exposure was locked, nothing changes but the sky. Expose for the foreground and let the GND do the rest.

1Dx4me Forum Pro • Posts: 11,115
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
2

you'd be surprised what you can do without all that stuff

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 6,439
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
1

Thira wrote:

I plan shortly to visit the Grand Canyon.

I plan to shoot sunrise and sunsets with a Graduated ND Lee filter.

My equipment:

Silk Graphite tripod with RRS ball

Canon M50 Mark ll

Lenses:

Canon EF-M 15mm-45mm

Canon EF-M 55mm-200mm

Adapter for:

Canon EFS 110-22mm

Tamron Piezo Drive VC 16-300mm

Filters:

LEE 100x150mm 0.6 Grad ND

Lee 100 x 150mm Grad ND

Lee 100 Sunset 2

Lee 100 Big Stopper

Lee 100 Little Stopper

B&W Circular PL for all lens

My question if using the EF-m 55-200 or EFS 10-22

If I shoot with AV setting, F9 or F11, ISO 100, and use both the O.6 and 0.9 Grad ND, this should change my exposure by 5 stops (2 more stops if a Circular Polarizer is used).

Based on my time shooting from both rims of Grand Canyon, I'd estimate 2-stops to be the greatest bracketing interval needed to expose for the sky in one photo and the shadows in another. I occasionally use a 0.6-stop graduated ND when shooting from the rim. That combined with bracketing by a full stop typically does the job.

In the scenario given :

1- what is the correct method to find the right exposure? Use the histogram and change the exposure until proper?

Well, this certainly isn't the correct or right way to determine your exposure settings. It's worked for me so, I'll offer it to you. The advice is freely given; the price is paid in the taking

I start by setting my ISO at base or sometimes one stop up from base. Next, I'll choose an f-stop for depth of field. Finally, I'll choose a shutter speed that produces an in-camera meter reading about 2/3 stop above 0. Then, I'll make a test exposure, check the outcome on the rear LCD, and adjust shutter speed as needed. I'll pay particular attention to what the internal metering is indicating at the settings giving me the best balance between capturing the shadows in enough detail but not blowing out the clouds. As the afternoon progresses and the light starts to fade, I'll adjust shutter speed to maintain that reading.

Personally, I use center-weighted metering.

2- Is there a way to lock automatic focus, or should I manually do it? I like spot metering, and touching my LED screen to set the focus.

I use back button focus, which is a technique that dissociates autofocus from a half-press of the shutter release. Once focus is set, pressing the shutter release only serves to trigger a shutter actuation. If I change the composition, I'll reacquire focus. I'll often use a timer delay of 5-seconds or so to allow any vibration generated from my pressing of the shutter release to dampen out before the exposure or exposure set is taken.

3-When is the proper time to focus?

Focus shouldn't change much over time. As mentioned, I'll reset focus after changing the composition. However, if I'm sitting on a particular composition for 15-30 minutes waiting for the light to peak, I'll set focus before the first test exposures, and then maybe 2-3 times over the next half-hour just in case I've inadvertently brushed the focus ring of the lens.

I give more attention to where to focus. Typically, I focus on the landform that is the subject of the composition. That may be a specific butte or temple anchoring the photo. If the frame contains several prominent buttes, I'll choose one about 1/3 of the distance toward the most distant of the group and focus there. It's Grand Canyon. Odds are you'll be setting focus on something at least a 1/2-mile to a mile distant.

Thanks so much in advance for the anticipated response. I am an amateur who reads a lot. Do not want to mess up my opportunity for some great shots.

RP

Good luck to you. Enjoy the Canyon; it's magnificent. Hopefully, you'll have an opportunity to do some hiking below the rim. If so, I recommend South Kaibab trail to "Ooh Ahh" point for some truly majestic views of the inner Canyon from below the rim.

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Quarkcharmed
Quarkcharmed Senior Member • Posts: 1,048
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

Thira wrote:

In the scenario given :

1- what is the correct method to find the right exposure? Use the histogram and change the exposure until proper?

Expose to the right using histogram no matter with or without the sun in the frame. With the sun, you'll need to use exposure bracketing. Take first shot with proper exposure to the right, second shot with the sun clipped. It'll be enough for HDR or exposure blending.

2- Is there a way to lock automatic focus, or should I manually do it? I like spot metering, and touching my LED screen to set the focus.

When you're at wide angle, just focus at infinity (any point far away), f9-f10 should be more than enough for the entire scene.

3-When is the proper time to focus?

Every time you zoom in or out.

The ND grad filters may help, but without the sun in the frame, your camera should do fine without HDR/bracketing if you use exposure to the right properly.

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jkjond
jkjond Forum Pro • Posts: 10,220
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

The secret is to practice before you go. Photographing the sunset at the grand canyon is much the same as the sunset anywhere else - you don't need to be there to find out what works.

Make sure you make the most of the light once the sun disappears. Arguably much better than when the sun is complicating the technicals and worse, dominating the scene.

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AZheaven Senior Member • Posts: 1,741
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

And make sure you are dressed for the weather. Grand Canyon sits at 7,000 feet avg. It will get cold fast as the sun sets, especially if there is wind. Which is notorious in AZ at this time of year.

Also, a friend was there in Oct. 2020. A Ranger and researching by me and on the net said the best place for sunsets was Hopi Point. To access this point you would have to drive Hermits Rest Rd. or take a bus. Not sure how long buses are running with Covid. I reccommend exploring this side of the Canyon anyway during your trip. The wife and I love Powell Point!

And also, unless something has changed since Oct. you have to wait in line to get into El Tovar to eat. Which I believe is the only restaurant open at this time. And they are only allowing so many in to sit at a time.

And the only entrance open is the South Rim entrance off of Hwy. 64 on the Williams side. The East entrance, Desert View entrance is closed because it borders the Navajo Reservation which is still shut down. Masks are required in the park.

Hope you enjoy your trip!

charleyd Senior Member • Posts: 1,214
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
1

Also be mindful of the spots you pick to take your shots. I don't know which side you are going to be on, North or South rim. The South Rim is easiest to get to. I have been to the Canyon twice over the years photographing, there are only certain spots that you can get a decent shot of the Canyon from. If you are going to line up some of these Sunset/Sunrise shots with an interesting part of the Canyon you will need to take some time scouting out these spots. It is beautiful, good luck

AZheaven Senior Member • Posts: 1,741
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

charleyd wrote:

Also be mindful of the spots you pick to take your shots. I don't know which side you are going to be on, North or South rim. The South Rim is easiest to get to. I have been to the Canyon twice over the years photographing, there are only certain spots that you can get a decent shot of the Canyon from. If you are going to line up some of these Sunset/Sunrise shots with an interesting part of the Canyon you will need to take some time scouting out these spots. It is beautiful, good luck

Just a heads up. The North Rim doesn't reopen until May 15th.

Sunrise at Mather Point is probably going to be crowded depending on the day. So for sunrise you need to be there early. You could try Powell Pt. off Hermits Rest Rd. Weekends will be crowded for sure.

mreynolds767
mreynolds767 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,429
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter
1

You seemed to have acquired quite the collection of filters for being somewhat unfamiliar with the basics. Not intended as a criticism.

As Mike Finley above me mentioned there is a sunset every day from now until your trip to the CG. Practice now with and without those filters so when you get the to the GC you know what to do ; a good sunset that light can change fast there is no time to learn on the fly.

Be careful with grad filters if anything from the land is sticking into the sky portion as the grad will also darken it. Trees at the CG immediately come to mind. Result will look quite unnatural and you may not be able to fix that in post. That is why I don't own or use grad filters and prefer to bracket and manually blend exposures in post.

Polarizer likely useless if shooting into the sun.

ND filters can provide long exposures which for a static subject like the grand canyon will only be beneficial if the clouds are moving ; otherwise it just makes it longer without any benefit and the possible negative of any tree, bush, etc... movement that could happen.

My advise for the GC visit itself. Don't just stay on the rim, even if you don't hike long make sure you take the time to go down the trails for different (often better) views and always less crowds. The trails are well maintained and very safe, only danger is over doing it as however far you go down, you have to come back up.

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Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,349
Re: Grand Canyon- Proper Sunset exposure with Graduated ND Filter

Although I am an anti-ND filter guy, I have heard of a tip to reduce glare coming in from the sides. Cut the end off an old sock and use that to block the light from the sides. You don't want to get home and discover the filters have produced glare on your shots that you didn't notice at the time.

One more suggestion. The GC has been shot 10 million times from the rim. I'd try walking down into the canyon a bit to look for a different composition.

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