Graduated Filter question

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2,226
Name
Paul
Edit My Images
No
#1
In the past I attempted the use of graduated filters, to overcome the difference between brightness in sky and ground in my landscapes. Much of the time, with an 'even' horizon, the results were acceptable for the day. However, using the more 'hard' grads in uneven horizons (mountains etc), there was a very defined boundary where the edge of the Filter effect was seen at f11 and beyond. At the time, f11 and smaller was good for landscapes. Anybody else have this problem and how did you overcome it?
I guess the digital age offers quicker, better and more effective solutions
 
Messages
425
Edit My Images
Yes
#2
Yes this is an inherent problem with grad filters. You can only overcome it by using a grad with a softer edge, correcting any visible lines in software or doing the whole process in software.

Using a softer edge grad may not sufficiently balance the bright and dark parts of the exposure because its kind of a blunt tool. Doing the process in software (either using built in grad filters in Lightroom or full on exposure blending of bracketed images) allows much more tailoring of the results and ultimately a better balanced image.

The downside of doing this in software is that you aren't creating the image in camera and lots of people don't like spending lots of time editing on a computer.

Personally, I used to use grads when I had the low dynamic range EM1 but since getting a D810 I find I don't use grads at all and prefer to just use the tools in Lightroom.
 
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332
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#3
I had the same issues when I tried ND grads on digital so now I just use software.
Pulling up the shadows when processing is usually enough.
In particularly bad cases I'll use HDR techniques but keep the tone-mapping under control!.
 
Messages
332
Name
Mike
Edit My Images
Yes
#8
You probably meant 'no tonemapping' under any circumstances, and also limit shadow slider to within 50%
If the shadow slider at 50% works there's no real need for HDR techniques.
In the extreme cases when HDR technigues are required (combining data from multiple shots) tone mapping is needed. Done to extremes tone mapping makes an image look artificial, but it can be done subtly so it doesn't show. In many cases combining two JPEGs from the same RAW file with suitable tone mapping will give enough dynamic range to get both sky & foreground looking right.
 
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14,341
Name
Nightmare
Edit My Images
No
#9
If the shadow slider at 50% works there's no real need for HDR techniques.
Disagree with that. Normally you will have a well defined area that is either much darker or brighter. Say a window or a deep dark ravine. A HDR file allows you to apply local adjustments like grad without having to worry much about noise or blown highlights. Of course you have to then worry about moving objects that create weird artifacts during merge -> you may have to blend back some of the source file back in. After this there should be simply no need for tonemapping or shadows >50%, which both lead to similar overprocessed look. You could in theory come up with something like zebra stripes pattern all over that can't be dealt with in any other pragmatic way but I am yet to see those in real life.
 
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