Using graduated nd filters in just a part of a sequence!

Hi guys!

I was thinking... when I am shooting a sunrise for example I am almost always using a graduated nd filter. But what if you want to use an nd filter in a part of your sequence? For example you are shooting a night to day transition. First you are shooting the nightsky without any graduated nd filter. But when dawn starts or a bit before sunrise you will use an graduated nd filter.

Is there a workflow or something to deal with the change of a graduated ND filter? Because it is just a part of your sequence (the sky) that will become darker! I hope you have ideas how you can smoothen the transition of using a graudated nd filter in just a part of a sequence!

If I was to shoot a timelapse like you describe, I would shoot the night sky without a ND grad until the morning sky starts to blow out. To give the sequence a little more length you could eventually stop down a few stops in 1/3 increments and then use Holy Grail workflow in LRTimelapse.
Then I would stop my camera until the sun is near the horizon, mount the ND grad and then start shooting again with new exposure until the sun is up.

In post I would render the two sequences out and make the transition by blending the two sequences using the opacity function in Premiere or After Effects. I believe it's possible to make a relative smooth transition that way.

I can't think of any other way to deal with the sudden exposure change that the ND grad causes...
Can't imagine it would work with the ND grad mounted during the night scene and traditional Holy Grail workflow or bulb-ramping (using Ramper Pro or Promote control).

Hope you find it helpful
For the holy grail sunset/sunrise, or when there is high contrast changes, I use in camera exposure and Lightroom 5 to do my exposure adjustments. While shooting, I periodically check my exposure meter, once it gets about 1.5 stop under or over exposed, I make adjustment to get the exposure back to normal. While shooting into the sun, I change aperture to make the adjustment, and shooting after the sunset, I change shutter speed.

In post processing, I use Lightroom and do what JonasHoholt recommends. Thus using the filters to darken or lighten the sky or foreground. Then, I make all the basic adjustments like crop, clarity, color, detail contrast, etc... And finally, I make the adjustments to exposure where the exposure changes took place in camera. The changes I make would be with the exposure slider, or shadow or highlight slider depending on the situation and lighting of the sequence.

This may not be the ideal way to do it, and it takes a lot of time to make the adjustments. However, it works for me, and took a lot of trial and error to understand how to get the optimal results. Nevertheless, there are products on the market that do auto exposure adjustments for this type of exposure changes, but it too takes trial and error to understand how it works to get optimal results. Also, having a camera that has a wide dynamic range sensor can eliminate the need for a traditional grad filter, thus allowing the use of software grad filters which are more flexible as every scene is not a straight line horizon. Anyway, I'm always open to try new techniques. Thanks.

about us

Time Lapse Network is the Worldwide community dedicated to time-lapse photography.

Learn the technique, share your experiences and master it watching the best videos for free!

© 2013-18 Time Lapse Network - Created by Marco Famà

submit your video

Follow every single step in this tutorial and get your video straight to the home-page