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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS...Picking up on another thread, which is best for landscape ? a) Grad filter for sky b) Bracketing shot & ...
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:13   #1 (permalink)
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Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

Picking up on another thread, which is best for landscape ?

a) Grad filter for sky
b) Bracketing shot & using PS to combine images

Now I know a) is going to be quicker, but what always concerns me is that hills , & trees etc that protrude in to skyline get effected by Grad filter too From a purist perspective I would expect b) to be preferable

What do others think ?
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:28   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

I would prefer #1, I just like to get it right in camera, but that's me. #2 works as well, but as I've said previously I just don't like alot of hdr shots they are too fake.
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:39   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

I always use b) seeing as I don't have any filters other than CPL (which, to my thinking, is the only filter which is difficult to reproduce in PS). And I don't use HDR (I agree with you, Sarah, the results leave much to be desired) but merge the two shots manually - way more control over the all important shadows (which is why I dislike HDR, seeing as it destroys the natural shadows). Landscapes are as much about light as composition, is my philosophy
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:41   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

Agree re HDR if done wrong, but in this instance I was thinking more of shot exposed for sky as layer 1, followed by correct exposure for land as layer 2, then apply layer mask with grad fill to layer 2 to get exact same effect as grad filer You can then mask back extra bits from hills etc.

Longer winded, but a purer method ? I dunno.
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Old 23-09-2008, 14:46   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

That way is good Dave and what I would use, but take 2 hours of sweating over the PC with all my book to do, you get to keep the naturalness (that's probably not a real word ) of the scene.
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Old 23-09-2008, 19:28   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

Your right Dave, with the new smart objects in PS CS3 you can open to raw independently from the background layer on a copy back into raw and make your change to the sky there, bring it back and mask it in. Of course, I got into photography to feed my PS addiction, so my point of view is not of the formal kind. Hdr "fooy", I say if you don't like um', don't shoot um' but let the rest of us have fun.
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Old 24-09-2008, 09:17   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

I have always used CPL's and ND grads to combat the sky brightness, and if need be I have made selective levels/curves adjustments as adjustment layers on the sky with a Gaussian blur of 250 pix for high rez images to blend with rest of image, I have tried HDR and agree unless done right and with the right images/subject matter results can be very un natural looking - everything I know about photoshop is from reading (I dont know much!) - but I would dearly love to know how you do the method you describe Dave, I have been aware this can be done and I think it would produce the most natural result but don't know how, how do you open two images as separate layers? an then bring certain parts (the sky etc) through from one to the other so you end up with the sky and the foreground properly exposed in the final result?

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Old 24-09-2008, 11:03   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

I use both and combine the shots in CS3 with layer masks, I will then do a set of 5 image for HDR, then see shich works the best when gets home.
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:22   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

Here are a list of pros and Cons:

Graduated ND Filter:-

Pros
Does not need extra memory
Local contrast maintained so looks realistic
No Post processing needed
can capture motion
Cons
Awkward to use, possible dust, scratches
lens flare is common
May need to carry several filters
Hard edge can show on final image
Does not work well with irregular horizons (buildings, trees)
Maty cause vignetting with wide angle lenses
set up time may be longer than HDR
HDR

Pros
Not dependent on composition- irregular horizons fine
No additional flare
Bracketing copes with much larger dynamic range
can use for any focal lengths
Cons
Uses More memory
Not good for moving subjects
More post processing required
Tone mapping can produce unrealistic images though this is down to the user
My conclusion would be that, for a stationary subject, HDR produces the best results in almost all situations. If you have a moving subject, HDR may be unsuitable but neither is a Grad ND ideal if you are tracking a moving object. An alternative is to use a single Raw and tone map. Providing the dynamic range is only medium, this gives most of the Pros of both Grad ND and HDR but without the Cons.
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:40   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

Well, I use neither filters nor HDR yet manage to produce some OK sunrises/sets using 2 shots!

I've yet to see a single really good HDR landscape but I've seen some excellent HDR interiors and brilliant ND Grad'd shots!

Oh, and I have seen a reasonable HDR of a moving subject - a pro using some beta software, so I'm thinking the HDR software will get there!
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Old 26-09-2008, 19:45   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Grad Filters vs Bracketting & PS

I use B if I have a tripod and the wind is not too bad and A if I am handholding or something is moving. Bulky as they are filters and holders are less bulky than a tripod.
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