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

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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. Solid 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

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