September 13, 2015

Learning to use my ND filter

I always liked the look of long exposure photos. When I upgraded my camera body, I thought, this is my chance to up my game and get creative and really explore what I can do. So I got a ten-stop ND filter. For those unaware, a neutral density (ND) filter attaches to the camera lens and blocks light from entering, so you can leave the shutter open longer than you normally would. You can get flowing or misty water or streaky clouds on a sunny day. Take photos like that with no filter, and you'll get photos that are all white from too much light.

Check out that ocean.

After work one day, I drove to the beach in Ventnor to take some photos of the fishing pier. Since this was my first time using a filter like this (my only other filter is a polarizer), there was some trial and error. By the time I got the hang of it, the sun was setting. In fact, the first photo in this post was taken at sunset.

The more stops, the darker the filter. Ten-stop is pretty extreme. It blocks most light. It's so dark that I couldn't compose or focus with the filter on the lens. I had to compose and focus, then switch to manual focus so the autofocus wouldn't kick in and mess up the focus, then put the filter on the lens, then take the shot.

It was a fun evening. I love being by the ocean, and I love taking photos. For a comparison to what it looked like without the filter, here's a pic I took with my phone when I got there, more than an hour before the two other photos in this post were taken, so the sun was higher in the sky and it wasn't casting all those pretty colors.

From underneath the pier, the beach looks deserted, but there were a handful of people there. If you want to see bigger versions of the photos, you can find the color one here and the black and white one here


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