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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Nature & Landscapes Talk 
Thread started 07 Oct 2014 (Tuesday) 14:37
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Filters or Software?

 
russellsnr2
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Oct 07, 2014 14:37 |  #1

Hi, Have a bit of a quandary, own a set of Lee filters but with the ability to do most anything in software nowadays except of course polarize a scene am wondering is it worth keeping hold of them?
Is there any scenario where software could not do as good a job as say an 0.6 ND grad?
Thanks
Russ


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Phrasikleia
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Oct 07, 2014 15:41 |  #2

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.


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MNUplander
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Oct 07, 2014 15:55 |  #3

Phrasikleia wrote in post #17199726 (external link)
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.


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russellsnr2
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Oct 08, 2014 00:38 |  #4

Thanks for above comments.
Really sends me the way I was thinking.
I do use HDR on ocassions but tend to go down the Fusion road rather than tone mapping (I do wish HDR soft would include Exposure Fusion in the Lightroom plugin if possible)
Also have been looking at the luminosity mask route of late, bought the complete set from Tony Kuyper along with the tutorials.
Again thanks for the input


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Russell.

  
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Alveric
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Oct 08, 2014 00:48 |  #5

Filters all the way. The less time I spend sitting in front of the computer, massaging files, the better.


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mike_d
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Oct 08, 2014 01:10 |  #6

If I can use a filter to compress the dynamic range enough to process it as a single raw file in Lightroom, I'm happy to do so.




  
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Phrasikleia
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Oct 08, 2014 14:09 |  #7

russellsnr2 wrote in post #17200739 (external link)
Thanks for above comments.
Really sends me the way I was thinking.
I do use HDR on ocassions but tend to go down the Fusion road rather than tone mapping (I do wish HDR soft would include Exposure Fusion in the Lightroom plugin if possible)
Also have been looking at the luminosity mask route of late, bought the complete set from Tony Kuyper along with the tutorials.
Again thanks for the input

Yeah, the latter option (lum masks) is really the best way to go. If you want to learn the ropes from the masters, have a look at my recommended list here: http://www.erinbabnik.​com …ction-via-screen-sharing/ (external link)


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ejenner
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Oct 09, 2014 18:30 as a reply to  @ Phrasikleia's post |  #8

I'm definitely in the 'I don't use filters unless I have to' camp. But then I got into digital exactly because I like post-processing (used to spend hours in the darkroom).

However, in answer to one question I would say when something right on the horizon is moving, then you might think about using a filter. For instance breaking waves above the horizon or trees swaying. I haven't done seascapes for a while, so would bring filters is I were going on such a trip just in case.

As far as blending 2 exposures, I find that much less time consuming that messing with filters in the field anyway.


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patrick ­ j
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Oct 11, 2014 08:44 as a reply to  @ ejenner's post |  #9

I use GND filter once in a while, but I do more blending than filters. One of the problems with a filter is that you rarely get a clean separation between the bright and dark areas. Something, like a tree, frequently seems to be sticking out, then you have a tree that's half light and half dark. Unless you actually have blown out highlight (the blinkie thing), raw captures so much range that I've found that I can frequently blend two different versions of a single exposure.


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JustinPoe
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Oct 15, 2014 12:31 as a reply to  @ patrick j's post |  #10

In my opinion, you have two types of landscape photographers:

1.) Those that use filters because they don't know how to use Photoshop.

2.) Those that use Photoshop.

I have never come across anybody that was skilled in Photoshop that would prefer using filters to post-processing.

(I'm assuming this topic is excluding filters that can't be replicated in post. i.e. polarizers, etc)


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airfrogusmc
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Oct 15, 2014 12:39 |  #11

I know that I'm the exception. I shoot all of my personal work with a Leica M Monochrom. What amazing files and I have to use filters sometimes to get the desired effect. Just like shooing B&W film...

If you are shooting a with a color sensor then unless you have a specific desired effect then photoshop is the answer...




  
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Picture ­ North ­ Carolina
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Oct 16, 2014 06:14 |  #12

If you are skilled at photoshop, the quandary is a simple choice between:

a) the extra drudgery in the field of cleaning filters, adapting and mounting filters, dealing with filter fog in humid environments, and so on...

or

b) sitting in your underwear, sipping a cup of coffee, and farting around with photoshop


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Phrasikleia
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Oct 16, 2014 10:49 |  #13

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #17215847 (external link)
If you are skilled at photoshop, the quandary is a simple choice between:

a) the extra drudgery in the field of cleaning filters, adapting and mounting filters, dealing with filter fog in humid environments, and so on...

or

b) sitting in your underwear, sipping a cup of coffee, and farting around with photoshop

Haha. That sums it up pretty well! :lol:


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taemo
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Oct 16, 2014 11:28 |  #14

what filters are we talking about here?
GND is not as needed anymore with digital although if you are shooting sunrise/sunsets through a flat horizon then a reverse GND will still be useful

Polarizer, ND filters are still very much needed

and if you are a B&W film or M-M shooter then colored filters still have its use

I'm with Alveric here, I would rather spend more time out in the field shooting than sitting down for hours staring on an image but then I noticed my landscape photography style has changed the past couple years, I'm not always going for the ultra color/HDR photography anymore and going for a documentary style


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Phoenixkh
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Oct 16, 2014 12:26 |  #15

I wish I were more skilled with Photoshop. I have several Photoshop "text books" but I only seem to use them for emergencies.

To complicate things further, I'm color blind. I have to ask my wife if I'm heading in the right or wrong direction when it comes to color.

I ended up buying the Nik Collection software and I have to say, it's enabled me to do things I just couldn't manage before. It's far less expensive than a decent ND filter and it's so easy to learn.


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