When photographing landscapes with big portions of the image being the sky, correct exposure is not trivial. Usually the sky is much brighter than the rest of the image. If leaving the camera on automatic exposure, what usually happens is the land gets a correct exposure but the sky is overexposed and shows white in the photo. A white sky is dull. How to compensate for this? One way is to use HDR technique, with multiple exposures and combining them automatically or manually through Photoshop. It is a lot of work and it does not succeed always due to wind moving the trees, waves etc. Best results are when everything is dead still. I have a simpler technique, one needs a camera with a good dynamic range. Any modern DSLR is OK. I underexpose the photo by approx 1 stop. This way the sky does not loose...
Yep, it may sometimes be a little awkward to play with real filters in the field, e.g. when it's windy. Recently I found that software gradient filters can also be applied during raw post-processing, which produces much less noise. Btw, I also like using masks and blended layers. :)
Thanks for all the comments, Indeed there are different methods of achieving this. The ND filter has been invented just for this purpose but forgive me saying is old technology. It belongs to film cameras although no doubt it works. With Photoshop one can achieve a much more precise tuning. And of course nothing beats bracketing your shot and combining the images. For best results with this a tripod is essential, but one can argue that for landscapes tripod is essential anyway. I like playing with masks. :)
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