Thursday, December 18, 2014

Using a 10 stop Neutral Density Filter

During the early morning hours of the Thanksgiving holiday I took the opportunity to try and get some sunrise photos.  The skies were cloudy the previous evening, but they were forecasted to break in the night and be partly cloudy for the morning sunrise.  They were off by about 2 hours.  Sitting in a hayfield, I anticipated the sun to break on the horizon and reveal a beautiful sunrise, but it just didn't show itself.  So I used a little creativity and an opportunity to try using some older filters I had along with a new one I had purchased on sale earlier in the week.  In this post, I not only wanted to show what the possibilities are with filters but what surreal beauty they can add to the mundane.

In this first photo, I set up my camera and took the picture with a bare lens.  The clouds were streaking that day and it made for an interesting shot.  This photo was taken with a rather fast shutter speed which froze the clouds in the photo.  

I then placed my old trusty 6 stop neutral density filter on the front of the camera.  This allowed me to use a shutter speed that was much slower because the camera was now seeing 6 stops less light than before.  The slower shutter speed captured the clouds movement which gives the photo a better feel and mood than static clouds.  

Finally, I put the 10 stop ND filter on my camera and took a couple shots.  The color is a little different in this photo because the sun had now risen a little more into the sky and the clouds were starting to clear.  I took the liberty of saturating the colors a little more to give this a better feel of warmth.  If you notice, there isn't any static subject in the clouds and the are filled with silky smooth streaks.  I was worried initially after viewing this photo that my new filter was going to produce a magenta color cast which is sometimes troublesome for a 10 stop filter.  The colors were much different than the 6 stop.  Again, the sun had risen a little more and the clouds were beginning to break on the horizon.  This photo was also about 4 minutes long compared to 30 seconds of the other photo.  I was planning on taking a couple more shots, but not being prepared for the very cold wind that morning I decided to call it a day and head to eat some turkey.

Wanting to give the filter another shot at giving me the type of photo I want and to make sure I wasn't seeing a color cast, I stopped on the way home to capture this sunset.  The clouds were amazing this evening and the 10 stop filter added the drama I wanted to this photo.  There was a much brighter almost like the sky was on fire show 30 minutes later, but I was on a road that made it impossible to stop and get a shot.  I was very happy with how this photo turned out.  I didn't have time to get all different types of filters for this shot so I took two separate exposures, one 90 seconds and one 120 seconds.  I combined those photos in Photoshop to make the final shot evenly exposed.  

Thank you for viewing.


  1. Jayson,

    Nicely done. I need to get out my ND filters again! It's been too long.

    1. Thanks Derrald! I am starting to like using filters. Just need to get out more also.