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Archive 2013 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing
  
 
Gary Clennan
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p.1 #1 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Kinda curious to see what the recent trend is amongst landscape photographers. Are you primarily using Grad ND filters or bracketing your exposures. I have played with both over the years and feel I get better results from using filters. Could also be my inexperience with combining the exposures in software.


Jan 11, 2013 at 05:32 AM
dswiger
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p.1 #2 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I still have ND grads but only use them on "clean" horizon lines to avoid the tell tale darkening of other features. In film, you only had that choice.

I mostly use bracketing now.
Some newer DSLRs, like the D800 have more dynamic range, making it easier.
Then of course there's medium format digital with a claimed 12 stops+

Dan



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:52 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #3 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Gary Clennan wrote:
Kinda curious to see what the recent trend is amongst landscape photographers. Are you primarily using Grad ND filters or bracketing your exposures. I have played with both over the years and feel I get better results from using filters. Could also be my inexperience with combining the exposures in software.


I do not use or even carry the filters at this point. I use exposure blending, which gives me a great deal more flexibility and control.

Dan



Jan 11, 2013 at 06:24 AM
wbrad
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p.1 #4 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I do both, but I'll never stop using my ND grads. There is a real sense of satisfaction when you can get the image right in the camera.

Wayne



Jan 11, 2013 at 08:25 AM
JimFox
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p.1 #5 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


wbrad wrote:
I do both, but I'll never stop using my ND grads. There is a real sense of satisfaction when you can get the image right in the camera.

Wayne


Hey Wayne,

I am with you on this one. I do both...

Jim



Jan 11, 2013 at 09:11 AM
ctlim
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p.1 #6 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Gnd's = being in a scene, shooting a moment, then look at the display.... Wow omfg!

Exposure Bracketing = being in a scene, shooting chopped up moments, then look at the images.... then go home to the PC.... then after awhile.... Oh so that's how it looked like.

One shot is king for me. Though there are a few instances that filters will not compensate for dynamic range, if so I take safety images for details.



Jan 11, 2013 at 10:11 AM
pauldng
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p.1 #7 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


One shot with grads whenever possible, it's so satisfying getting it in one plus no worries about things moving. I'll blend a couple of exposures if the scene requires it but I find this is quite rare.

Paul.



Jan 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Mashuto
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p.1 #8 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I absolutely love my GND filters, and there is definitely a sense of satisfaction seeing that image on the screen just right. I do blending as well and I think both are great tools, but although in principle they are doing pretty much the same thing, there is just a look to my shots with my ND filters that I just have not been able to replicate yet with blending... but perhaps that is from a lack of technique on my part.


Jan 11, 2013 at 02:12 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #9 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I don't share the notion that the photograph should look right in camera in all cases. That is a personal preference, I suppose, but I'm more interested in producing the best possible final print that corresponds to my expectations for how the subject should look.

I don't have any issues with those who prefer to use GND filters, but I cannot see how this is ethically or aesthetically superior to other approaches apart from judging the quality of the resulting photograph as it hangs on the wall. To me it is a bit like the idea that, say, correcting for converging perspective lines with a TS lens is somehow better than making the same correction in post, or that using a warming filter on the camera is somehow better than producing the very same warming effect in digital or analog post.

Photographically speaking, there are some very good practical reasons to consider the exposure blending method if your goal is to produce the highest quality photograph. This method permits us to do some things that are not possible with GND filters and provides greater artistic control over the result. It can also have the advantage of requiring a bit less gear and sometimes a bit less fussing at the time of exposure, though the trade-offs usually (but not always) include needing to use a tripod and more careful work during post processing.

A while ago I wrote a short post about this subject using an example photograph: http://www.gdanmitchell.com/2011/08/02/exposure-blending-a-quick-overview

Dan

Edited on Jan 11, 2013 at 04:13 PM · View previous versions



Jan 11, 2013 at 02:19 PM
ckcarr
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p.1 #10 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


More information from a similar question back in 2011
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1004888/0?keyword=GND#9544183

I still use filters when necessary.
As camera dynamic range has drastically improved over the years, and sensor sensitivity to lens quality has increased also, I do find myself more hesitant to use any filters though. So I usually shoot with and without, then pick.

For Nikon users this ability to use exposure blending, or the alternative; HDR, makes the 14-24mm a much more feasable lens. Of course when I use it I don't have filter problems anyway.

Edited on Jan 11, 2013 at 05:38 PM · View previous versions



Jan 11, 2013 at 02:48 PM
 

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boingyman
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p.1 #11 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I don't own GNDs so I just bracket and manual blend. On the other hand if I owned a full Lee setup with GNDs/reverse GNDs I would probably use them when I feel necessary. With that being said I guess my answer would be both if I owned them. GNDs is just another tool in the toolbox. It may or may not be useful to you and may not be worth the extra cost or space wasted, but only your creative mind can decide that.


Jan 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Scott Stoness
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p.1 #12 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


dswiger wrote:
I still have ND grads but only use them on "clean" horizon lines to avoid the tell tale darkening of other features. In film, you only had that choice.

I mostly use bracketing now.
Some newer DSLRs, like the D800 have more dynamic range, making it easier.
Then of course there's medium format digital with a claimed 12 stops+

Dan


+1 in theory but I mostly shoot in the mountains, and there are no clean lines so ndg just trades fixing ndg lines vs blending and I am getting good at blending. So I don't normally carry ndg.

For me the situation where NDG are most useful is with water on the beach (flat horizon and moving foreground) but that only occurs on vacation and can be solved with blending. And I always forget to bring them.

So generally no filters for me except cpl (for non uwa lens) and grad (for waterfalls after dusk).

Plus my go-to lens is 17ts which is not easy to do ndg with. I just bought the 24ts (vs ts17 with 1.4x which was my previous choice) and that might cause me to revisit ndg.

Scott





Jan 11, 2013 at 05:12 PM
bshamilton
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p.1 #13 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


I tried the GNDs and got decent results only, as mentioned above, on scenes with a clean horizon. Even then, I got the best results when I hand held the filters and moved them during exposure to reduce the obvious effects.
Still, I never got the satisfying results that manual blending gives, so, after realizing I'd never use them again, I sold the GNDs.
As others have stated, manual blending can give much more natural and pleasing images, especially when done carefully. Yes it may take a little time, but with practice it's not cumbersome at all.
(The only filters I now own are a CPL and a Vari-ND, to get longer exposures, especially for scenes with water.)

Barry



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:35 PM
LizzieShepherd
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p.1 #14 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


gdanmitchell wrote:
I don't share the notion that the photograph should look right in camera in all cases. That is a personal preference, I suppose, but I'm more interested in producing the best possible final print that corresponds to my expectations for how the subject should look.


You beat me to it, Dan! The best end result is the one that matters most for me. Though each to their own...

I do still have a few grads and I use them on occasion - wind blown trees and plants (depending where the grad line/s will fall) and sometimes for stitched panos. If I'm doing a pano when the light is changing very rapidly I may use a grad to save time and ensure I get all my shots completed before the light has changed too much. However, my preference is to blend by hand where the DR is too much for one exposure.

Lizzie



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Justin Grimm
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p.1 #15 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Scott Stoness wrote:
+1 in theory but I mostly shoot in the mountains, and there are no clean lines so ndg just trades fixing ndg lines vs blending and I am getting good at blending. So I don't normally carry ndg.

For me the situation where NDG are most useful is with water on the beach (flat horizon and moving foreground) but that only occurs on vacation and can be solved with blending. And I always forget to bring them.

So generally no filters for me except cpl (for non uwa lens) and grad (for waterfalls after dusk).

Plus my go-to lens is 17ts which
...Show more


Im in the exact same boat as you Scott. It seems graduated filters would only be useful in very specific cases, and spend the majority of their time in the bottom of my pack.

Have you looked into building a diy filter holder for your 17 ts-e? I'll be building mine this week. Seems easy to build and looks very proffesional when finished. Plus I can use the same ND and CPL on all my lens now, even the wide 17



Jan 11, 2013 at 05:50 PM
roguecoolman
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p.1 #16 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Lately I've been doing more bracket+blending because I've gotten better at it. I still have my GND but mostly for Oceans. Before I had to make a compromise when I shot around mountains or tall tress to accept that some areas will be darker and while I could lighten in PS it's still a compromise. With digital blending I can compromise less.


Jason



Jan 11, 2013 at 07:32 PM
RobDickinson
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p.1 #17 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Anything and everything.

I often shoot with filters and bracket... Both techniques are valid, sadly some competitions wouldnt allow one but do allow the other..



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:22 PM
khurram1
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p.1 #18 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Gary Clennan wrote:
Kinda curious to see what the recent trend is amongst landscape photographers. Are you primarily using Grad ND filters or bracketing your exposures. I have played with both over the years and feel I get better results from using filters. Could also be my inexperience with combining the exposures in software.

I'm still using ND grads, but am also doing some bracketing, in the event I do want to merge once I start using something other then DPP to process my RAW files.



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:37 PM
kevindar
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p.1 #19 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


Use both. More blending than gnd. GND has some distinct advantages over bracketing.
1. negating movement. 2. shooting panoramas, where movement becomes even more of an issue as the number of shots increase.
however, bracketing definitely gives more latitude in blending. when I was shooting with a d600 for a short while, I felt that most of the time I can do without either!



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:32 PM
LizzieShepherd
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p.1 #20 · ND Filters v.s. Exposure Bracketing


RobDickinson wrote:
Anything and everything.

I often shoot with filters and bracket... Both techniques are valid, sadly some competitions wouldnt allow one but do allow the other..


Good point, Rob. I didn't enter TPOTY this year as the images that were suitable were all blends. I did email them pointing out that older cameras with more limited DR were at a disadvantage and that was there really such a difference between using grads and blends, but never heard back.... They don't allow blends, nor do they allow stitched panos - cant work that one out at all....



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:33 PM
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