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Thread: Grad ND Technique

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    98

    Grad ND Technique

    I recently acquired a set of 4 rectangular graduated nd filters (2- and 3-stop, hard and soft graduation for each) for use with my 4x5. I am struggling with their use, specifically, getting the transition in the proper place. Even when viewing the ground glass wide open (all my lenses are f5.6) I am having difficulty seeing the transition on the ground glass. And when stopping down to f22 or f32 it becomes practically impossible.

    What is your technique? What am I doing wrong? Also, one other question regarding the transition area of the ND filter: When viewing on the ground glass with the lens wide open (f5.6), then getting the transition in the proper place, won't the transition be in a different place in the image after stopping down to say f32 or so?

    Any suggestions, tips, or advice is welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2

    Grad ND Technique

    You should place the grad with the lens stopped down to the taking aperture. Placing it wide open will result in incorrect placement.
    A good technique to finding the grad line with the lens stopepd down is to move it around a bit until you can tell where it is. A good dark bag is essential to being able to view things properly on the GG.
    Hard-edge filters are easier to place since the transition line is more visible, but they are also the most visible in the resulting image. With long'ish lenses this is not much of a problem, but wider lenses may be more prone to showing the dark line. SOft edge grads are more difficult to place, but also give you more room for error.

    Guy
    Scenic Wild Photography

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    South Bend, IN
    Posts
    100

    Grad ND Technique

    I keep a supply of mini Post-It tabs (about 1" x 1/2") and place one lengthwise along the grad's transition line before placing the filter into the holder. It makes the line very easy to see, even with a soft grad. Just don't forget to remove it before taking your shot
    Visit www.dannyburk.com for fine photography galleries, drum scanning, instructional workshops and Photoshop tutorial, tips and more

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    98

    Grad ND Technique

    Danny Burk: Now that's what I was looking for. Sounds like a simple, but yet perfect solution. You're brilliant! Thanks.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Sweet, ID
    Posts
    517

    Grad ND Technique

    I use a similar approch to Danny's. Using Cokin P filter holder and system, I use a piece of cardboard cut to the same dimensions as the filters, one side light and the other dark (my particular cardboard piece is cutout from a Henry Winehard's 12-pack while on a camping trip many years ago - one side is light brown and the other is dark green). Stop the lens down, insert the cardboard piece in the slot closest to the lens with the dark side towards the lens, and while looking at the ground glass adjust the height until it covers the area you want (it's really easy to see the line). Come out from under the dark cloth, insert your ND filter in the next slot and slide down until the transition lines up with the edge of the cardboard. Remove cardboard and shoot away. I only use soft edge ND filters, so the accuracy of placement is not too critical but this gets you pretty close. This ought to also work with hard edge filters but more care is most likely necessary. I learned this from another professional in Yellowstone, sunrise, -10 deg F.
    The only trouble with doin' nothing is you can't tell when you get caught up

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    386

    Grad ND Technique

    If you have a multi-slotted filter holder, like Lee or Cokin, you can use a red filter instead of a Post-It or Cardboard.

    Partially insert the red filter and use its edge to mark the boundary line between the bright sky and the dark fore-ground. Once everything looks good on the GG, insert the ND grad and lower it into the holder and position the dark/light transition line in the same place as the bottom edge of the red filter.

    Now remove the red filter and shoot !!!!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    98

    Grad ND Technique

    Well, by my count, that's at least three different solutions that make sense to me. Thanks guys.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    300

    Grad ND Technique

    I have my graduated 2 stop ND filter marked along one edge at 1/2 stop increases (eg from 0 to 2 stops), measured with a spot meter. This in combination with Paul M's dark/light piece of cardboard works well. Sometimes I need only 1 or 1.5 stop decreased sky value, not the full 2 stop option. So I need some form of orientation. I probably learned this trick from Joe Englander, may have been in Yellowstone, sunrise, at minus 28C.

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