I am going to be at Zion,Bryce,and the Arches end of May or early June, and need some experienced advice please.
I was all set to purchase an ND grad filter set up and start practicing, so I can better deal with canyon/skyline exposure and not always golden hour photography. Couldn't decide if I should buy a holder, or go with the Moose Petersen hand held filter method.
Then I read an article about how HDR has replaced the need for grad filters .
I have seen some HDR pictures that I really liked, but have read opinions, that it's very easy to make your HDR 'S cartoonish by going to far.
Im not sure how to know when your picture crosse the line to overdone, maybe its just personal taste,thats probably a whole other post.
Back to dealing with the canyons,any thoughts?
#1. "RE: looking for education/opinions" | In response to Reply # 0
spiritualized67 Nikonian since 01st Mar 2007Wed 30-Jan-13 11:51 PM
First of all, you've picked some excellent places to visit - they're all amazing!
Great question! Having experience with both grad NDs and HDR, I'd say that grad NDs will hands down give you the most natural results. HDR has come a long way and prudent editing can certainly come pretty darn close - but in my experience, nothing beats the organic results of using grad NDs.
I've dabbled in the hand-holding technique, but prefer to use the Cokin P-Size holder with my Singh-Ray filters. I've photographed alongside photographers who prefer one or the other, although I find the holder to be better for my shaky hands.
In the right circumstances, both techniques can work well - and you may find yourself in a situation where HDR (or exposure blending in Photoshop) is the only viable option. When the terrain is mostly even or your subject doesn't overlap into the part of the frame you're looking to darken (such as a tall tree protruding into the sky), a two or three-stop soft can make a huge difference. If the landscape is very flat with a clear separation between features like land and water/sky (like a desert or an ocean) - a hard grad ND could be the answer.
So my answer is, I'd use both HDR and grad ND depending on the circumstances - but if the scene is ideal for grad NDs - I'd pick this over HDR any day of the week. Now exposure blending is another story altogether, as I've seen some wonderful examples using this method. But if you're serious about landscape photography, the grad ND is an essential tool in any photographer's toolkit.
#3. "RE: looking for education/opinions" | In response to Reply # 2
spiritualized67 Nikonian since 01st Mar 2007Thu 31-Jan-13 12:10 AM
Good call. When practicing, you need to know how far down to put the filter in the holder to avoid causing lines/shadows in your images (which can be more pronounced in hard filters) - and you need to understand how different apertures will affect filter use - but they're pretty much intuitive to use, and some trial and error can go a long way.
As for HDR, this is good for broken landscapes, uneven terrain, forest scenes, what have you. If you've got the time and the light is not too fleeting, you can do both.
I sometimes stack filters too. Have fun!
#4. "RE: looking for education/opinions" | In response to Reply # 0
I've used both HDR and grad ND filters out there and agree with Dan, grad ND's are the way to go. And, like Dan, I prefer the holder over hand held, especially if the exposure if fairly long.
It's a wonderful place to photograph and you will find no end of scenes to target. Cross your fingers and hope for clouds, they can really make a desert shot dramatic.
Nikonians Team Member