Capturing Time with a 10 Stop ND Filter
The Blur Effect
You know that nighttime motion blur you get that looks oooh-so good in photographs (see below)? Did you know you don’t have to wait till nightfall to obtain it?
You can easily “stop motion” with extraordinarily short exposures: A hummingbird in flight, a single drop of falling water, a popping balloon. But how about stopping motion with long exposures? Or perhaps better said, recording motion with long exposures.
Cameras can see things that you and I will never be able to – they can see things as they exist throughout a period of time, not just during a single moment. When you use your camera to capture flowing water, moving people, and even the rotation of the earth through the apparent motion of stars, what you’re really doing is recording time. And that’s where the 10 stop neutral density filter comes in: it allows you to capture time not just at night, but during bright sunlight as well.
How to use your 10 stop ND filter
- Set up your camera on your tripod
- Take a test exposure without the filter
- Set your focus and exposure settings to Manual
- Multiply your test exposure time by 1024*
- Reshoot with the 10 stop filter using the new exposure time
The 10 stop ND filter cuts light in half a whopping TEN times. When you do the math you’ll realize a 10 stop filter cuts light an incredible 1024 times (2 to the factor of 10) – that means you can obtain stunning motion effects even in bright sunlight! It also means you’ll NEED to use a tripod and you won’t be able to see through the viewfinder – it’ll be blacked out by the powerful filter. So get the exposure right, set everything to manual, multiply by 1024, and have some faith that everything will turn out okay!
It’s worth it.
Sure, it’s a lot more work and effort than simply pointing and shooting, but the payoff can be tremendous. Some of my most interesting pictures have been captured with my 10 stop ND filter, and I implore you to experiment with it too.