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Old Feb 27, 2005, 3:39 PM   #1
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I've been contemplating graduated ND filters. I love photographing sunrises and sunsets. However, I'm not particularly fond of the chiaroscuro effect that results when the sky is exposed correctly to bring out the gorgeous colors, while rendering the foreground solid black. Sometimes it's a nice effect, but one of the things that intrigues me more about sunrise/sunsets is the magical quality of the light and how it effects the objects in the foreground.

Exposing the foreground correctly leaves a pale, washed out sky; exposing the sky correctly leaves the foreground black. I know you can blend two exposures to increase the tonal range, but that seems like a lot of work and I want to have my cake and eat it too, and without having to do a lot of baking. I mean, what's the point of having a cake if you can't eat it?

Enter the graduated neutral density filter. Look at Mark's wonderful shot here:

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...75&forum_id=23

Fantastic, huh? That's what I'm talking about!

What I'd like to know, Mark, is: did you use a round, screw-on filter or a rectangular one? I've read somewhere that the round ones require you to place the horizon or foreground objects below the split. In other words, you're somewhat, or maybe a lot of what, constrained in composing the shot by having to get the density part on the sky so it isn't overexposed while capturing the darker foreground below. A rectangular one, however, can be adjusted up or down to get the transition just right without compromising your composition.

I don't know much about this. Hell, who am I kidding? I don't know much about photography at all, except that it's become a passion, an obsession, the only thing I want do anymore. I'm addicted!

What kind of adaptors are required for rectangular filters? Are they readily available for digital cameras in general, and the FZ-20 in particular? I've read the posts here on the round ones and Tcon lenses, etc. and have become familiar with the major players in the adaptor market like Phayee, Pemeraal, Raynox, etc. I don't know anything about the rectangular ones, though I'm assuming one must start out with one of the aforementioned, then purchase some other kind of rectangular bracket thingy. Are they reasonably priced or prohibitively expensive? And finally, are they fairly simple to use? Is the effect, and the transition, readily apparent in the EVF or on the LCD screen?

I plan on researching these questions myself, but thought that some of you more photographically savvy shutterbugs might be able to point me in the right direction. Mark, that was an inspiring shot you posted, so I'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on your setup. And Nicktrop, you seem to really know your stuff. And fmoore, Narmer, vIZnquest, TimvdVelde, jazzmaster, too. Any thoughts guys?

I'm sure there are others of you out there that I may have forgotten in the previous list, or panel of experts. Sorry if I didn't mention you. This is a great forum!

Your input would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Feb 27, 2005, 9:02 PM   #2
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I used a round graduated nd filter for the sunset. Bought it used for $25 and thought for the price, can't go wrong. You are right about positioning the horizon. With square filters you have the ability to slide the filter up or down in the holder and adjust your horizon position. Everything I've read points to buying a Cokin P setup for the FZ20. An ring adapter is required to match your threads. With the Cokin P there are thousands of available filters that fit made by several different companies. Check ebay. Dozens of filters listed to fit. Also, Adorama, B and H both sell dozens and dozens of filters that fit. The Cokin P also allows the use of specific round filters in conjunction with the square. An example would be using a square graduated nd to dim the sky and brighten a tree line as well as a rotatable polarizer to take glare off the trees and show better coloring.

I will eventually go this route. I have other cameras and lenses that would benefit from having a Cokin P setup. Rather than buy another whole set of round filters for a different thread size, I can just buy a ring adapter and use the same setup. Much cheaper in the long run. Hope this helps!
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Old Feb 27, 2005, 9:48 PM   #3
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A graduated ND filter is something that I definitely want to get in the future, but for the time being, I was actually thinking ofusing polarizer as a substitute ND and then applying the graduatedpart digitally in Photoshop.

Has anyone done this before? I wonder if there will be enough detail in the lower half before any manipulation to make it worthwhile. I tried this on a picture of my dog and the actual effect was very nice (very smooth and you can control where you want the transition), but the dog ain't no sunset, so I suppose some experimentation is in order.


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Old Feb 27, 2005, 10:00 PM   #4
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Thanks Mark. That helps a lot. I'm looking into it. I did a search based on your information and feel like I'm headed in the right direction. One of the hits was on B&H's website, a series of informative articles they provide that I didn't know existed. Don't know why I didn't think to try there before. Here's the link:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ilterIntro.jsp

It's a pretty good primer on filters. Near the bottom of that first page there are several paragraphs on the rectangular, drop-in filters. As you said, it looks like the Cokin filters are an economical way to go.

I just received a tripod with ballhead from B&H the same day they had the big fire. Hope they recover soon.

Thanks for the info. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work.

Greg
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Old Feb 27, 2005, 10:21 PM   #5
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mtritt wrote:
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A graduated ND filter is something that I definitely want to get in the future, but for the time being, I was actually thinking of*using polarizer as a substitute ND and then applying the graduated*part digitally in Photoshop.
Hello, mtritt. That's an interesting idea you have there.

Quote:
I wonder if there will be enough detail in the lower half before any manipulation to make it worthwhile.
But, I don't think you're going to have enough detail in the shadows. I think too many of those dark pixels are going fall off the left side of the histogram. But it certainly can't hurt to try. *

Here's another method from the Luminous Landscape and one that I intend to try until I can get a GND filter:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...xposures.shtml
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Old Feb 28, 2005, 4:26 AM   #6
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this one is shot with rectangle ND filter.. I think there is no difference between them only the better price of the rectangle version. (+polarizer)

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Old Feb 28, 2005, 4:35 AM   #7
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( I bought a used rectangle version.. Cokin -> 5 dollar :roll: )
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Old Feb 28, 2005, 6:35 AM   #8
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Wow! Tim, that looks good. I'm going to start looking for an adaptor and filters.

By the way, I'm assuming your picture was taken in the Netherlands. If so, it looks just like the North Carolina coast. That's a good shot. Thanks for sharing it and the information.

Greg
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Old Feb 28, 2005, 7:04 AM   #9
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pggunn wrote:
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Here's another method from the Luminous Landscape and one that I intend to try until I can get a GND filter:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...xposures.shtml
For this, though, you need to get to shots framed 100% identically, so you must use a tripod. I can hold a camera fairly steady, maybeenough for one shot, but certainly not well enough for two. I don't want to be walking aroundeverywhere with a tripod - there's the comfort factor to consider. Plus, I couldn't bear the evil looks from my wife.




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Old Feb 28, 2005, 5:46 PM   #10
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mtritt wrote:
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Plus, I couldn't bear the evil looks from my wife.
Hey, I know that look! :evil: I get it sometimes myself. I don't blame you. I'd rather try the filter, but don't have that option now.
However, I do have a good tripod - sturdy, but lightweight and compact at 18" long retracted, 60" fully extended. And I'll try sweet talking my wife.

We've got lousy weather now and probably into thursday, but I hope to try it this weekend. I'll post my results - good or bad.

Take care
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