Phrasikleia wrote in post #17199726
This question comes up a lot in this forum. The short answer is that anyone with good post processing skills will find very few scenarios where using a GND would actually be preferable to blending, though there are some rare cases where they can help a lot. Some people just enjoy using grads for a variety of reasons (seeing the results of the grad on the back of the LCD, actually playing with the filters to "slow down" in the field, etc. etc.). Personally, I find them to be a complete nuisance, and I stopped carrying my ND grads a few years ago; they now sit in a closet collecting dust.
I'm in total agreement with this. I'm far from a master photographer or post processor but I also find GND's a complete nuisance - and an obvious GND line looks as bad as bad exposure blending.
Besides, good ones are expensive and they're all breakable while adding more material between the light and my lens. Plus, I dislike few things more in photography than staring into my live view screen or viewfinder trying to adjust a GND while the good light is fading. I'd rather adjust my shutter speed a few times and take it all in while the exposures are running, then move to my next composition.
There are any number of methods that are fairly simple to use (but are hard to master):
-HDR, but don't be tempted to over-do it if that's not your end goal
-Simple layer masks with a gradient tool can replicate a GND with just two exposures - and they take no more than a minute to do.
-More complex exposure blending for the PS experts - I'm getting a feel for luminosity masks these day. While time consuming, they are awesome.
All that said, I'd still like to have a Lee filter kid again so I could easily stack a CPL with a big/little stopper. But, there will be no GND's in my pouch when it happens.
Final caveat, I can see the appeal of GND's for those who prefer a traditional experience (hell, I use MF primes for landscape so I get that) and they have their edge in some situations, but in most I find I can reproduce their effect more efficiently and with higher quality by blending exposures.