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Experimenting with ND Filters and Long Exposures

Jan 10 2013

Having recently purchased some ND filters I had being longing to try them out for quite some time. I decided to try the seascape at sunset style with the waves crashing across the rocks. The waves become misty and it looks quite nice but I had never tried this before. I am going to outline below how I used the ND Filters, ND Grad Filters and Long Exposures for capturing the waves and rocks.

The time was about 5 minutes before sunset when setting up, so I was trying to work fast. Before putting on the filter holder I focused the camera and recorded where the focus ring was at the time, which was at infinity, as once the ND filters goes on the camera you cannot see anything and your camera will try in vain to focus.

The steps I used were as follows;

  1. Turn off Auto-Focus
  2. Attach the filter holder
  3. Insert 2 ND filters and 1 ND Grad filter (making sure they were clean first)
  4. Attach camera to the tripod, ensuring the tripod was secure in the sand first
  5. Turn of Image Stabalisation on my lens (24-105 Canon L Lens), as this can cause a slight blur when attached to a tripod
  6. Attach a cable release as I will be shooting in BULB mode
  7. Set the camera to Manual mode and exposure to ‘BULB’
  8. Check the focus has not been affected by the filter holder or by any movement of the tripod before you start
  9. Start Shooting.
  10. Check the results as you shoot for sharpness, exposure and composition. This is called “Chimping” believe it or not…. Chimping is a term used to describe checking every photo on the LCD camera display immediately after capture.

Having tried a few shots, mainly between 55 and 75 seconds, I got the following result. This was facing almost due West and I had zoomed the lens just past the area of the rock which had no waves flowing over them.

ND filters long exposure beach sunset

I repositioned the camera and tripod to face towards the oncoming waves, probably SSW, and I got the following moody shot – I later used this shot in an internal competition in Carrick Camera Club, and it was received well with the judging panel. I did a bit of brightening of the rocks bottom right to add some details to the rocks closest to the camera.

ND filters long exposure beach

I hope to do some more work with the ND filters as they certainly extend the possibilities for long exposure shots. Hopefully the steps on How to use ND filters above were useful for you.

Photo Location: Kilfarrasy Beach, Tramore, Co. Waterford

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