Neutral Density grad placement
I'm new to the forum and wondered if some advice could be sought?
I love the sunset pics that people do that are done with ND filters both the hard and soft variety. However, I have always had difficuly placing a ND grad and I am unsure as to how it should be placed exactly in a pic.
Of all the books I have on photography not one shows how you line up a grad filter on your lens I do know of the technique where you hold the DOF previez button, but I have seem to have difficulty seeing the filter coming into place. I'm short-sighted for one thing and I have used the adjuster on my camera to compensate for no glasses.
Where exactly do you place each aspect of the filter?
I would prefer to know how to do this properly rather than taking two images and merging them in photoshop!
Thanks for any help
Stopping down the aperture is the way to do it but, I agree it's not easy to judge at first. Like most things, it gets easier with practice. My method is to start without the filter at all and slowly start moving it into position from the clear end to the graduated area. Sometimes it helps to compose the scene, remember the position of the horizon, aim the camera at a bright area and apply the filter.
Cut a piece of black cardstock and fold it over the filter so the edges covers the thick portion of the grad down to the edge. Slide the filter down til you see the edge of the card where you want it. With soft grads, go slightly past the horizon so you cover it a bit. You should stop the lens down so that it's accurate. Also, for sunsets flip a grad over and try using the thick portion placed on the horizon.
my 2 cents
Thanks for the replies
Last question. I heard that you meter for the ground when using ND filters. Any ideas as to what you meter? Grass?
In the summer I tried this and it seemed "OK" but a little too dark. I also had to fiddle with the shutter speed as my meter said one thing, but I reckon it was a stop and a bit either way
This is a really compex task to grasp and very abstract with the confines of a text based forum. Best to get someone to show you how.
Soft transition grads can be less effective on smaller 35mm lenses. It is easy to pull them down too far on 4x5!
Also in camera meters usually and understandably open up to compensate if left in Auto mode, thus moving all values from the intended. Different cameras react in different way. I did some tests on a workshop, where a 3 stop grad had effect of between 1/2 to 1 stop on some DSLRs.
A spot meter is best way to proceed, but appreciate yet another piece of kit to buy and carry. However it lets you measure values to choose correct ND grad or grads in relation to element of scene which you want to be your mid-value.
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Thanks for the replt.
I do have and did meter from the ground (grass) using a spot meter. I read somewhere (i know) that grass is a good reference for middle grey
It is, as long as the light is not hard. Green grass can throw off some very bright specular reflections, making it look almost white.
Thanks for all the posts on this.
I have one last question if I may.
Earlier on someone mentioned putting a piece of black card over the grey part so you can easily see the grad being slid into position.
How far down the grey do you slide it for the horizon? Obviously the grey is graduated and this is the one thing that I have never seen an answer for in any book or fourm. I did see a pic on a website somewhere, but I lost the link
If I knew how much of the grey should cover the horizon I would be very happy
It really depends on the scene and how you visualize it when printed. There are no hard and fast rules for this. You need to play around with it a bit and select the best of the bunch.