Friday, February 10, 2012

Grads



I've rattled on about the dynamic range of digital cameras before. Have you ever shot a beautiful landscape, especially in the bright hours of daylight, and found that no amount of exposure adjustment could keep you from either having the foreground so dark that you couldn't make out the details or the sky was so bright that you just had a blob of white or light gray? If you've had those results, it's not a product of your lack of skill as a photographer, it's simply a matter of conditions pushing the capabilities of the equipment past their limits. You can get around that problem in a couple of ways...the "new" way is to spend a little time at the computer and "rebuild" the image in software like Adobe's Photoshop. That works well if you spend the time to acquire the skills. The old fashioned way is to shoot with graduated neutral density filters (grads). Grads come in a bewildering assortment of sizes, shapes and grades. They're pretty simple to use but they do require a little thought to get the best performance. The idea is pretty simple...if it's too bright, put shades on it. Cover the bright area with the dark area of the filter and cover the darker area with the clear area of the filter...Voila!...balance! You can buy ND grads that are made in a circular format...just screw it into the filter threads on the end of your lens. I never cared for that approach 'cause it forces you to adjust your composition to suit the line of transition in the filter. A much better solution, for me, is the rectangular variety with a filter holder that allows the filter to slide up and down in a track...it can also be rotated so that the line of transition, between light and dark, can be tilted to follow the horizon (or other bright area). With the larger rectangles, you have a lot of leeway in positioning...you compose the image that you want, then adjust the filter to suit that composition. Some photographers don't use a holder, they just hold the filter by hand and move it as needed...that allows for quick adjustment but I always found that I didn't have enough hands to be very proficient with that technique. I wanted to post some shots of the results of using these filters but it's been raining for the last couple of days...so outdoor photography is on the back burner!

4 comments:

Paula said...

Laughing @ Me @ what I thought your entry was going to be about. Bet you great photographers hate to look at my pitiful pictures.

John Ownby said...

Wow, John! I knew you were smart, and I know I'm pretty dumb when it comes to photography, but now you're looking even smarter than before and I'm feeling quite a bit dumber! You should write a book about this stuff....

Wendy said...

Is a polarized filter the same thing or not?

shutterflycutie said...

yeah John...I know you read the posts but I don't see an answer to Wendy's question....We need tp start an online course.