Tag Archives: big stopper

Choosing the Right Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposures

Badlands, South Dakota. 130s exposure using a Singh-Ray 10-stop ND filter
Badlands, South Dakota. 130s exposure using a Singh-Ray 10-stop ND filter

Long exposures are a simple way to get creative with your photography. As I’ve discussed before, a good long exposure requires three elements:

  • Something moving in the frame (to be blurred)
  • Something stationary in the frame (to anchor the shot)
  • Slow shutter speeds

The traditional ways of slowing shutter speed are to (1) use a low ISO setting on your camera and (2) to stop down the lens aperture (f/16 or smaller). However, if you want to use a long exposure in daylight conditions, those two settings won’t help you much. Consider the standard “sunny 16” exposure: 1/100s @f/16 @ISO 100. Hmm. Stop down to f/22 and you get 1/50s. Not very slow. Maybe your camera can be set to a lower ISO, say ISO 50. That will get you to 1/25s. Again, that’s slow enough to blur cars or fast-moving water slightly, but it’s a big constraint. Moreover, some DSLRs have a base ISO of 200, meaning that you are even more limited in getting a slow shutter speed. Continue reading Choosing the Right Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposures

Creative Photography: Going Long

A 10-stop solid neutral density filter allowed me to capture this image with a 30-second exposure.

I recently purchased a Lee “Big Stopper” filter. This is a 4×4″ solid neutral density glass filter that delivers 10 stops of light reduction power. In other words, it’s like putting a piece of welder’s glass in front of your camera.┬áSolid ND filters are used to permit long exposures in otherwise bright conditions. Why would you want to do this?

In the right conditions, long exposures deliver a creative look that can make your images stand out. This technique can be a creative boost when you’re photographing popular places. In order for long exposures to work, you need both good equipment and the right conditions. Continue reading Creative Photography: Going Long