View Full Version : B&W - ND Grad Filter or Burn when printing

brian steinberger
12-Feb-2006, 21:07
I have an interesting question. When photographing scenes with skies that are, say, 1 or 2 stops brighter than the landscape, is it better to use a graduated neutral density filter, or just burn in the sky during printing?

Andrew O'Neill
12-Feb-2006, 21:27
Clear or cloudy sky? B/W or colour film?

ronald moravec
12-Feb-2006, 21:28
I prefer a colored filter.

I never could see much use in grad filters. There is always some object that extends from the ground into the sky area. The grad filters will darken half the object.

brian steinberger
12-Feb-2006, 21:49
Clear or cloudy sky with black and white film. Either, if it is 2 or three stops brighter. I understand that if it's more than 3 stops bighter it may be hard to burn.

Eric Jones
12-Feb-2006, 23:07
I have used a Light Red Graduated filter in B&W. It serves as an ND filter (since I don't compensate) and naturally darkens the sky. Best results were with a sky that had some good looking clouds.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
12-Feb-2006, 23:30
I'm gaining quite a fondness for grads. Much easier than the darkroom and it's done in a click.

Eric Leppanen
12-Feb-2006, 23:55
If the sole objective is to hold cloud cover in high contrast images, I've lately preferred ND grad filters most of the time whenever the situation permits. Don't have to deal with unintended consequences on the non-sky area due to color filtration. ND grads produce a well-defined, realistic rendition of clouds, albeit not the enhanced dramatic look (overdramatic in many cases for my taste) of, say, a #25 red filter.

I much prefer getting the negative right than compensating in the print stage.

Stephen Willard
13-Feb-2006, 00:46
I recommend neither.

GND filters are cumbersome to use and slow you down. In most cases the horizon is not linear, but rather waved and would not be applicable for using GND filters. I cannot tell you how many photographs I have seen with the parts of the horizon shaded with GND.

Burning and dogging is very time consuming in the darkroom and does not lend itself to consistent results from print to. Of course you can only do D&B with large uniform areas in a print. And there is those ugly burn lines where the sky and land meet.

I prefer to unsharp masks to compress contrast on to a print. UM have none of the draw backs for either GND filters and D&B in the darkroom. There is the initial time needed to construct the mask, but once that is done then making a print with rich tones and detail from dark shadows to brilliant skies is trite.