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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Utilizing ND and Grad ND filters on Airliners

I love working with PSE8, yet it doesn't do everything that I would want it to do. Having a physical ND filter or a Grad ND filter on the camera as you take your picture can do things that utilizing a ND filter function on PSE8 cannot do.

With these two shots, I wanted to bring out the intensity of the sky and bring some definition into the clouds.

The unmodified image of a DH-8 coming into land on Runway 26R

When I applied the post-processing ND 1.2 (4 stop) filter simulated by PSE8, the sky was darkened and the clouds gained definition.

This shot, I underexposed a bit to bring out the clouds, however, that was not bringing out the clouds in a way that I wanted.

With this shot here, I cranked up the exposure of the RAW file by one stop, then applied a 1.2 soft ND Grad with PSE8 (post processing) to the photo with the transition point to the center-line of the aircraft. This allowed a gradual transition from the clouds to being able to see the aircraft. The clouds are being lit by the setting sun and that was the intensity that I wanted to bring to them. The problematic part of throwing a GND or ND filter PP on the aircraft is that you are going to end up with a dark aircraft. You can either use shadows to tweak the exposure, or you can dodge (using the dodge and burn tool) as I have in this updated photo. Learning how to utilize the "dodge and burn" tool is essential in post-processing and if done right, it can make a world of difference in your photos.

The dodging and burning allows you to bring out the exposure of the aircraft and ONLY the aircraft, not the darkened sky behind it.

1 comment:

  1. The clouds in the bottom photo look good, but then the plane is dark. You can bump the plane's detail with using shadows (if you that option in PSE).

    ND Grads are great for shooting landscapes when you want both the foreground and background exposed nicely. Most people will use an ND Grad filter when doing landscape photography when the foreground is exposed properly and the clouds/background is either over-exposed or under-exposed.

    ND Filters themselves are for getting longer shutter speeds. When you can't get an aperture smaller than f22, at iso100 to limit the light, you pop on a ND filter to help limit even more light from hitting the sensor. Great for doing day-time long exposures, or getting that cool cotton-look to moving water/waterfalls.

    The other option you could do for your above photos was to do bracketed-exposures. Then merge them so you bring out the dynamic range of the light (ie HDR). That way you get the details of the clouds, but still maintain the detail of the plane(s).