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Here at High Sierra Workshops, a primary part of our workshop curriculum is focusing on previsualization techniques. Much like how Ansel Adams knew how he was going to dodge-and-burn a print back in the darkroom before he even clicked the shutter, we emphasize how important it is to know and understand what your entire workflow will be — from composition to exposure to post-production to output — all while still in the field.

Ellon Anon, from Nik Software, posted a wonderful workflow and comparison study at DPreview on post filtration, looking at the different options for HDR and digital split graduation:

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A common dilemma when photographing landscapes is that some portions of the scene are far brighter than others.  A prime example of this, shown below, is when photographing scenes containing both sky and reflection. The reflection is often several stops darker than the primary subject and of course, the sky.

The traditional in-camera solution is to use a split neutral density (ND) filter to balance the overall exposure. A split filter works by reducing the amount of light that reaches one area of the lens. Split ND filters have long been mainstays in the gear bags of landscape photographers. They come in various strengths (able to reduce exposure by 1, 2, 3 or more stops) and are available with transition areas (between reduced and normal brightness) that can either be gradual or abrupt. Yet there are many situations in which they are not ideal.

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You can read more about Ellon’s solutions at workflow in the original DPreview story.