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04-25-2018, 04:46 AM   #1
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Graduated ND Filter vs Polarizer

I'm still without a Polariser, and silly ol' me only recently just discovered that ND filters come in graduated forms lol.
It made me wonder... I realise shooting a wide angle lens with a polariser runs the risk of getting a weird uneven blue sky... can a graduated ND filter (I'll call it GND) do a better job? Like... ok I realise they are used mostly with dynamic light, such as sunrises and sunsets, but perhaps a particular strength of GND may help with midday shots where you control that sky more, help with not blowing cloud highlights whilst enhancing the overall blue sky?

What say ye all... and GND shooters out there?

TIA!

Bruce

04-25-2018, 04:58 AM   #2
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I would rather simulate a GND in Lightroom so my horizon can be where I like. There’s usually enough dynamic range that I can do that without an IQ hit.

A polarizer is really something different by reducing reflected light. I use mine more for water and windows and such.
04-25-2018, 04:58 AM   #3
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GND's and polarisers don't do the same thing. You can use either or both together depending on the conditions or what you are trying to achieve. If you want to darken a bright sky to help get a better exposure on a dark foreground you use a GND. If you want to cut down on reflections and increase saturation you can use a polariser. Yes avoid using a polariser on a wide angle if shooting in brighter conditions. If you are shooting in bright evenly lit conditions with a regular lens and just want to boost the sky saturation a bit the polariser will do the job and will be easy to work with.
04-25-2018, 05:21 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
I would rather simulate a GND in Lightroom so my horizon can be where I like. Thereís usually enough dynamic range that I can do that without an IQ hit.

A polarizer is really something different by reducing reflected light. I use mine more for water and windows and such.
QuoteOriginally posted by Gyroscope Quote
GND's and polarisers don't do the same thing. You can use either or both together depending on the conditions or what you are trying to achieve. If you want to darken a bright sky to help get a better exposure on a dark foreground you use a GND. If you want to cut down on reflections and increase saturation you can use a polariser. Yes avoid using a polariser on a wide angle if shooting in brighter conditions. If you are shooting in bright evenly lit conditions with a regular lens and just want to boost the sky saturation a bit the polariser will do the job and will be easy to work with.
Thanks for the swift reply chaps.

Yes i am aware of the intentions of GND and Polarisers. I realise polarisers are very cool for reducing reflection and glare and boosting saturation, and I use ND filters a lot for my landscape such as water falls or slowing clouds down.

My issue with polarisers is that they give that uneven blue sky tint, it's something i personally find quite off putting. I am curious if using a mild GND filter might work better, in that you can have the land exposed slight higher/better without blowing cloud highlights etc.

My current strategy is I either take two different exposures and stack in post, or take one exposure, try and get it as right as possible (typically employing ETTR strat to not blow a cloud highlight and then recover shadows in post) and/or use a GND in post in LR.

If the GND in post in LR works so well... I'm wondering how it will translate to using one in the big wide open real world.

Pretend you using a 15mm and have a very bright sunny day lots of blue sky, but there are white puffy clouds about. There are cliffs and shadows on the land, if you expose correct for the clouds you lose a lot on the land. I could HDR... or.... in a similar fashion to a sunrise or sunset whereby you want to darken the sky/clouds so you can expose a little better for the land and shadows cast from cliffs etc... could a GND filter be a help here whilst also still giving a consistent and uniform sky unlike a Polariser that might create uneven strengths of blue.

I would have thought the answer would be yes, it just all depends on the strength and degree of the GND. For midday for example you might want a mild stop, whereas that bright sunset or sunrise a far stronger stop.

04-25-2018, 06:42 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BruceBanner Quote
Thanks for the swift reply chaps.

Yes i am aware of the intentions of GND and Polarisers. I realise polarisers are very cool for reducing reflection and glare and boosting saturation, and I use ND filters a lot for my landscape such as water falls or slowing clouds down.

My issue with polarisers is that they give that uneven blue sky tint, it's something i personally find quite off putting. I am curious if using a mild GND filter might work better, in that you can have the land exposed slight higher/better without blowing cloud highlights etc.

My current strategy is I either take two different exposures and stack in post, or take one exposure, try and get it as right as possible (typically employing ETTR strat to not blow a cloud highlight and then recover shadows in post) and/or use a GND in post in LR.

If the GND in post in LR works so well... I'm wondering how it will translate to using one in the big wide open real world.

Pretend you using a 15mm and have a very bright sunny day lots of blue sky, but there are white puffy clouds about. There are cliffs and shadows on the land, if you expose correct for the clouds you lose a lot on the land. I could HDR... or.... in a similar fashion to a sunrise or sunset whereby you want to darken the sky/clouds so you can expose a little better for the land and shadows cast from cliffs etc... could a GND filter be a help here whilst also still giving a consistent and uniform sky unlike a Polariser that might create uneven strengths of blue.

I would have thought the answer would be yes, it just all depends on the strength and degree of the GND. For midday for example you might want a mild stop, whereas that bright sunset or sunrise a far stronger stop.
If you're shooting with a 15mm lens, I feel that the HDR option (in post) would be a better option than trying to get things the way you want with a GND. If you limit the exposure bracket and then adjust the resulting HDR image a little, I think you should get good results without the worry of where/how to align the GND when taking the image.
04-25-2018, 07:01 AM   #6
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Another control in LR to darken the sky a bit is to use the luminance slider on just the blue channel. I also sometimes use the graduated filter with just the highlights slider turned down to keep cloud reflections at bay.

But then again I don’t like GND filters because I prefer my horizons not in the center of the frame.
04-25-2018, 07:20 AM   #7
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Any good software (except Corel's...) has a good graduated ND Filter that works well and there's usually no IQ loss because you are lowering exposure, not extracting details by increasing exposure.

Still, a graduated ND can be fun to play with. I regret giving away the Conkin set I got with my A3000 a few years ago, with the Conkin you can adjust the position of the filters, so your horizon doesn't have to be in the center of the frame. I gave it to this college kid who bought my K1000 back in 2014. The guy was really eager to get into film photography. I hope he's used the filters...

04-25-2018, 04:08 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lsimpkins Quote
If you're shooting with a 15mm lens, I feel that the HDR option (in post) would be a better option than trying to get things the way you want with a GND. If you limit the exposure bracket and then adjust the resulting HDR image a little, I think you should get good results without the worry of where/how to align the GND when taking the image.
Which is pretty much what I currently do. I tend to pixel shift my landscape a lot tho so bracketing is out for that, just a little more fiddling with the camera for a different ps exposure for the subsequent shots. I really must find something better than a wireless remote that can really only fire the shutter. Something with a cable and more controls so that I can retake without touching the camera physically would be better.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Another control in LR to darken the sky a bit is to use the luminance slider on just the blue channel. I also sometimes use the graduated filter with just the highlights slider turned down to keep cloud reflections at bay.

But then again I donít like GND filters because I prefer my horizons not in the center of the frame.
Yeh i do the luminance trick a fair bit and of course the graduated filter in post, just curious to the difference between using the real thing vs in post I guess.

QuoteOriginally posted by ChristianRock Quote
Any good software (except Corel's...) has a good graduated ND Filter that works well and there's usually no IQ loss because you are lowering exposure, not extracting details by increasing exposure.

Still, a graduated ND can be fun to play with. I regret giving away the Conkin set I got with my A3000 a few years ago, with the Conkin you can adjust the position of the filters, so your horizon doesn't have to be in the center of the frame. I gave it to this college kid who bought my K1000 back in 2014. The guy was really eager to get into film photography. I hope he's used the filters...
This is true, I never really thought of this, unless you can get ND filters that fit the lens (threaded) and have gradients that start and finish at different points (some centre, some 2/3rds etc). I really must front up the cash and go the Conkin or Lee route eventually, the only filters I have currently are ND filters and UV filters for protection.

My issue is that I use 24mm (full frame) or a DA15mm (crop) for landscape currently, and due to work and family restrictions I am seldom at the good lookout points during any golden hour, often it is midday.

I shall give you some examples below of the kind of landscapes I'm working with;


Not much cloud here, just strong blue sky.


This shot is a stack, a ps image for the ground and a long exposure (1min 20 just) for the sky. (not sure I'm really into the slo mo cloud stuff, certainly needed a lot longer than 1min 20 here but c'est la vie...
Not the cliffs and shadow cast from it, I encounter this a lot, basically a high dynamic range, bright white clouds, strong shadows cast from cliff faces.


Similar kinda thing, tho more clouds today, but it's not uncommon to get a reverse of this kinda scenario with more blue sky and only 1/4 of the clouds in the sky. As someone from the UK I am used to overcast all the time, it's either blue sky with no clouds or just complete overcast. Australia likes to have its blue sky and a scattering of individual puffy white clouds.


This single shot handheld and using ETTR principles to not blow the cloud highlights. Lots of post work to bring up the shadows.


Another good example of strong blue sky and strong white puffy clouds. A single frame again using ETTR principles. Using a GND here tho wouldn't work as the sky and cliff faces don't give me a straight line to work with at all.


This time I screwed up slightly and blew the highlights out. This shot is going back further, I like to think I got better at protecting the highlights in my later shots (seen above).

So I also do waterfalls, I'll link you a few here while i'm at it;









Most my waterfalls are stacks, a ps image for the rocks and foliage, a non ps slo mo shot for the water, and then blend the two together in post.

I'm looking forward to trying a polariser for the reflection aspect, I'm just hesitant as to how I will fair with a polariser for the DA15mm or 24mm (same FoV) for landscape work, which is why I thought perhaps a GND filter might be better for the kinda terrain I'm trying to capture.

I'm not linking these images for constructive criticism or anything, I'm trying to give you all an idea of the terrain, hour (midday) and weather patterns that I often deal with. I don't think I can much afford a polariser AND a GND at this time, I'd have to choose one over the other. And if the general consensus is that a GND might work better I'm not sure what strength to go for, I was hoping these images might help assist in that regard.

Thanks for looking and chiming in with your opinions, I value all feedback!
04-25-2018, 04:24 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I still have a set of GND filters (square Cokin) although I haven’t used them in years, I’ve been planning on mating them to my K1 soon. Back years ago, the widest lens I used them on was a 28mm (that’s the widest I had). I think they worked great when I had a relatively flat horizon, such as when I was at the beach. In the mountains it became more difficult.

I may have a go at it with a 24 on the K1 soon.
04-25-2018, 04:51 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by twilhelm Quote
I still have a set of GND filters (square Cokin) although I havenít used them in years, Iíve been planning on mating them to my K1 soon. Back years ago, the widest lens I used them on was a 28mm (thatís the widest I had). I think they worked great when I had a relatively flat horizon, such as when I was at the beach. In the mountains it became more difficult.

I may have a go at it with a 24 on the K1 soon.
Love to hear how that goes twilhelm, keep in touch
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