Virtual GND filter

May 16, 2009
Downey, CA
This may fall under the category of nothing new under the sun, amount to little more than a masking technique, but allows us to achieve a Graduated Neutral Density for sunsets and like exposures where we need to handle large swings in dynamic range. At any rate, you can read about VGND at
Apr 15, 2008
Orange, CA
HDR is a common technique used to overcome an image that has a large dynamic range (Large EV difference between highlight and shadow ratio).

1. Requires multiple frames of the same image. Requires tripod, shots can be done hand held but rarely are they able to blend 9 images (highest auto bracketing continuous shots our cameras can do) together with your hand holding still through 9 images.

2. Software dependent. Requires photoshop, photomatix, or other software to process and put together. Photoshop produces the most natural looking HDR images. Photomatix HDR are very creative, colorful, intense, almost fake looking.

3. Time intensive. A full resolution 9 image HDR can take up to 5 minutes on fast machine in processing time only. Add in time to move files around and make sure you have them all together, add another minute or two.

4. Because it's tripod preferred, most people would use f/8 or higher thus slowing down aperatuer, thus also requriing an exp delay or mirror lockup between shots to reduce vibration since your ISO is going to be low and your shutter is probably going to be 1/250or less.

5. Requires a remote trigger to reduce vibration between shots. I use the cheap corded variety with a locking mechanism.

1. Incredble images can result. When done correctly and some luck, resulting images are spectacular and can easily jaw-drop most crowds. Pro's are usually not that impressed by obvious HDR's for some reason though.

2. Use a tri-pod in broad daylight with multiple exposures, crowds of people tend to just get out of your way without question. =D

3. Colors from HDR's are really saturated yet subtle at the same time.

4. Did I say already that they can look really spectacular?

In all honesty, try it and use it for yourself. Most people will at one point. But after a while, the post processing work in the end gets really tiresome and sometimes I'd rather not bother.

Replacements for HDR

1. A real graduated ND filter. I use cokin. Downsides for all graduated ND filter is you need a level horizon with few objects that go between top and bottom hemispheres.

2. get a S5 Pro. Single shot HDR machine with 12EV exposure capable from a single image. =D (It's my favorite body I use daily now)

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