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Thread: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?

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    Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    I want to step up the quality of my photographs of sunsets and sunrises. Of the landscape images that grab my attention on sites like Flickr, the ones I mark as "favorites" often are made with said filters. Things I want to know: hand held in front of lens vs mounted on frames? screw on filters such as a Vari ND $ingh Ray...worth it and easier to use? Any input is appreciated. thanks, erno.

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    Moderator Steve U's Avatar
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    Any input, well OK then.


    I[8-|] can teach you grasshopper, we'll open a bottle 96' red and start workin on them sunsets.[H]


    But one thing first, what's a graduated ND filter?[*-)]


    Hehe.[]


    Steve
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    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    The Singh-Ray VariND is not a graduated ND filter. Grad NDs are dark on one half, clear on the other. Since the sky will be 2-3 stops brighter than the ground/ocean, the idea is you place the dividing line at the horizon to darken the sky (sunrise, sunset) while letting the land/ocean be more exposed. That means screw-in grad NDs are not ideal, since they force you to place the horizon in the middle of the image (rather than off center, perhaps along one of the 'rule of thirds' lines, which is generally preferable).


    So, you want a rectangular grad ND so you can place the horizon where you want. You then need to choose how strong (2 vs. 3 stops are the usual choices, look at some images you have shot and see if adjusting by 2 stops would be enough to properly expose both sky and ground). You also need to choose hard or soft - hard has a crisp line between the dark and light portions, soft is a more gradual transition from dark to clear. You'd use hard for a clean horizon, like sky over ocean, and soft for an uneven horizon, like hills or trees.


    Holders are optional, the filters can be handheld - perhaps try it that way first, and if you don't like the results, get a holder. Make sure your filters and holder are wide enough not to vignette on your widest angle lens.


    An alternative to using a grad ND filter is to try HDR to blend exposures - software like Photomatix is cheaper than a good grad ND filter (free to try, in fact).


    Hope that helps...


    --John

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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    thanks for the info fellas. Steve, what if i shoot my sunsets thru an empty wine bottle. Do you think that would do the trick?


    neuro, welcome back and thanks for the info. I think i

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    Moderator Steve U's Avatar
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    Course it will Erno.


    I love the balance of this site, John has the tech stuff covered and I can be a goose.


    Seriously for a second, I recently did a landscape course and the teacher encouraged us to play with white balance, as the sun set, to try images with Fluro, Tungsten and so on, in camera and see how that changes the images as the light changes from bright to, gold, to blue.


    Interesting exagerated purple hues.


    Steve.
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    thanks for that tip steve, but if i just use white balance settings to alter sunset photography, i wont be spending money. i would feel dirty not spending any more money to keep my hobby going strong.

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    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?


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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    outstanding reference material J Huyer! very kind of you to shed some light on this issue for me.

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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    For sunsets and sunrises, you are probably looking for a reverse nd grad filter. It will get the sunrise/sunset near the horizon and not darken up the sky too much.


    I use ND grad filters often. They adjust the difference between the overly bright (blown-out) sky and the landscape shot. Great clouds make the shot always...

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    Senior Member alex's Avatar
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    Re: Who can teach me how to use a Graduated ND filter?



    J. Huyer,


    Thanks for the link, that was a great article.


    Does anyone know, if I were to purchase the Cokin "P" series filter holder that is talked about in the article the link goes to, is my B&W circular polarizer compatible with it?


    I would really like to incorporate the Grad ND filter system into my landscape photography, but I
    70D --- 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 --- 17-55mm f/2.8 IS --- 70-200mm f/4.0L IS --- 85mm f/1.8 --- 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro --- B&W Filters --- Manfrotto Tripod & Ballhead

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