Thursday 29 December 2011

Lighten the land, don't darken the sky

A while back I was teaching someone how to use ND grads and I was explaining how putting the dark area of the grad over the sky has the effect of making the land lighter. They looked at me as though I had gone mad!

Eventually they began to understand that you are not really darkening the sky, you are in staid lightening the land/  The key is to think that you are using the graduated filter to reduce the exposure range into  something the camera can cope with so that you don't end up with blocked shadows or blown out highlights.

I said I would create an example for them to show the effect of using a graduated filter.  The below images show the rather subtle effect of a 0.6nd grad in use.  Moving your mouse over the below should show the effect of inserting the filter:
Mouse over to see before and after
Hopefully you can see that we have slightly darkened the top left corner of the image and brightened the right horizon area by using the graduated filter at a jaunty angle like this.
ND Grad Position
The angle of the grad filter was to match up with the way the early sunrise was lighting the land from one side. Although it is usual to use grads in a more upright position it is important to pay attention to balancing the position as well as the intensity of the light.

Here are the before and after images in case the mouse over doesn't work for you.  Try opening them in seperate tabs of your web browser & switching between them.

Before - No ND Grad
After - With ND Grad

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