When I started working with my first ND (neutral density) filter, I really had to search for a good explanation on how to work long exposure shots with an ND filter. With this blogpost, it's my intent to give you a handy shortlist for shooting long exposure with your ND filter.
Ofcourse it all starts with your trusty DSLR and your ND filter. An ND10 reduces the light with 10 stops. For your long exposure shot, you'll need a sturdy tripod. No matter how steady your hand is, you can never beat a good tripod. I prefer to work with a remote control, the Canon RS-80N3 is my preferred choice.
Like with any good picture, it's most important to find a good location for your shoot. I prefer my pictures to be clean, without any unnecessary objects in it. I love going to our nearby Storsjön or to the fjäll with its lakes. But you can also find some really good spots for your long exposure picture with ND filter in the city.
Now let's get on with it!
1. Put your camera on the tripod;
2. Measure the light (aperture priority) with an F between 8 and 16;
3. Look in the table below (I always have the printout of this table in my bag) for the right exposure with the ND filter;
4. Use to autofocus to focus your image (or do this in manual);
5. Set your camera on Manual (bear in mind, you can't see a thing when your ND filter is attached);
6. Attach your ND filter;
7. Put some ducktape on your viewer (you don't want any light to come into you camera);
8. Make the picture (in the BULB setting), using the remote control;
9. Check the result;
10. Edit the picture in Lightroom or Photoshop. I'm a great fan of Serge Ramelli's work and I usually follow his basic workflow and add a bit of my own flavour.
These are the basic steps to follow. But, like with any technique, the most important is to try it out for yourself. Try and see what goes well and where you might need a bit more patience or maybe adjust your settings.
Besides keeping an eye on our blog, it's also great to watch this Scott Kelby vid. I love the way he explains it: a quick and clear explanation of how to shoot your long exposure shot with an ND filter.
Right now, I'm using a SRB Photographic filter and I'm quite happy with it. Popular filters manufactures are B+W, Tiffen and Hoya. I heard and read about Leefilters, they're also a really good option if you're looking to buy good quality filters.
The picture below I shot a couple of weeks ago. This is the Rödön Bridge in Jämtland, Sweden. This picture is on F8 and with a shutterspeed of 8 seconds. Right, now go out there and have fun shooting your long exposure shots!