Graduated ND filters will help you get perfect exposure in-camera when shooting landscapes and cityscapes. However, the area they cover sometimes just won’t cut it for the scene you’re trying to capture. Of course, you can sometimes fix it in post, but why not try getting it right in-camera?
In this video, Karl Taylor demonstrates a simple but effective technique of dodging and burning in-camera, relying on the old darkroom method. It will help you nail the exposure, preserve details in highlights, and it could save you some post-processing time.
As I mentioned, the technique is quite simple. All you need is an ND filter (or two of them), or even just a black card. When you set your camera to a tripod and compose the shot, take one test shot to get the correct exposure in the darker areas of the photo. Then, when you’re ready to shoot, place the ND filters in front of the lens to cover the bright areas. Make sure to move them around so they don’t create a sharp edge in the photo. And this is pretty much it.
Karl used two ND filters in the bright corners of his image. He took two photos for comparison, and here’s what he ended up with:
Make sure to watch the entire video for a demonstration and some more examples. It’s a short and concise video, and the idea is quite neat. I remember seeing it years ago, I don’t even know where (it could have been a photography book or a blog). So this video came as a handy reminder of this simple technique. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried it out and how it worked out for you.