Thursday, May 30, 2013

Long Exposure Shooting with 10 Stop ND Filter

HMS Belfast on a cloudy day, not great for ND filter use
Long exposure day time shooting is a type of photography I have wanted to try for a while.  I just did not have the time as I want concentrating on portrait and fashion photography.  After purchasing Micro Four Third cameras, I find myself carrying a camera with me a lot of the time.  I decided to try this type of photography by buying a Haida Slim ND3.0 (ND1024) filter.  It was a reasonably priced filter by a company I’ve not heard of (purchased from

The Shad on a bright sunny day

View from South Bank, London

I used this filter with my Olympus E-PM2 mainly with my Olympus 9-18mm lens with a mini table top tripod.  With this set up, I was able to shoot almost everywhere and very light weight.  The way to work with 10 stop ND filter was to focus and frame your shot then set up the camera before fitting the filter.  After fitting the 10 stop filter, it was almost impossible to see what you are shooting; therefore it is very important to do everything before shooting.  I normally do everything and use a 2 second timer to shoot the image.

Water fountain outside Pantheon, Rome

Water fountain outside Pantheon, Rome

St Peter's Square, Vatican City

From my experience, results are best from a sunny day.  You can shot in low light or cloudy days, but images look flat and unappealing.  Shadow details are greatly reduced, I think difference between the brightest and darkest areas are increased.  The outcome will vary between cameras.  Shooting on a bright day with the sun behind you will yield you the best results.  It is also important to shoot in RAW so you can adjust white balance afterward or set up custom white balance.  The ND filter confuses the camera and images are way too cold.  Again, the camera exposure meter is totally confused by the ND filter.  Since I normally shot in aperture priority, I simply add +1 stop exposure compensation.  This is my experience with my setup, so your combination of filter and camera will be different.

Spanish Steps, Rome

Spanish Steps, Rome

If you go through the trouble to shoot slow and frame your shot, you are rewarded with images  that are slightly different.  You can achieve blur smooth water during the day, clear days with blur clouds or scenes where you can see people movement.  I shot with this filter a lot recently to test it out, but it is not a filter I want to shoot with all the time.  With my M43 cameras, it is not too much trouble to carry a table top tripod and this small filter.

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