I started thinking about graduated neutral density filters. I don’t own any, but my feeling is that they would be a lot of hassle to deal with in the field, so I got curious to see how much you can do in post processing. That’s to say, how much of a gradient can you add in Lightroom without it bringing out noise or looking generally stupid.
I started poking around with this old photo from last summer.
I added a gradient of 1.5 stops extra exposure from the bottom, while reducing the overall exposure by 0.4 stops:
I pulled the white balance down to 4600 K, to make the image cooler:
I increased the fill light and black clipping to about 60:
I also decided to pull the Clarity slider up to about 50 and increased the saturation from -35 to -15:
Finally I pulled the vignette in a little tighter:
Here’s a larger version of the final image. Hover to see the
It ended up perhaps slightly over the top, but it shows that you can make quite a big difference with digital gradients in post processing too. I feel confident in skipping the real gradual neutral density filters and still being able to get the effect digitally.
On a related note, I’m very tempted to get a B+H ND110 (10 stop) neutral density filter to be able to experiment with really long exposures in daylight.