Taking good photographs isn’t just about framing your bailiwick and learning composition. Learning how to control how much calorie-free enters your camera and for how long can assistance you take photos that elude the average photographer. Neutral density filters are a powerful tool towards that terminate. Here’due south what they are and how to utilise them.
How to Develop a Better Heart for Taking Proficient Photos
Neutral density filters (or ND filters) reduce the overall intensity of the calorie-free that passes through them, without affecting the colour of that calorie-free. When y’all place an ND filter like these over the lens of a DSLR photographic camera, it allows less lite to pass through, which gives you the flexibility to open the aperture wider or expose a photo for longer than you lot would be able to otherwise.
Why Neutral Density Filters Thing
To sympathize why this is helpful, we need to look a bit at how a camera works. When you accept a picture with your camera, the aperture opens to allow light to hitting your camera’s sensor. On more avant-garde cameras like DSLRs, yous can adapt two key elements of that process: the size of the discontinuity (measured in f-stops), and the shutter speed, which determines how long the aperture is opened. These two numbers combined determine how much lite hits your photographic camera’s sensor.
This data is important for a ton of common photography tasks. If you lot desire to photograph a sports game, for example, you’ll need to use a fast shutter speed in order to reduce motion mistiness. If you take pictures at dark, you’ll either need a wider discontinuity in order to let in more lite, or a slower shutter speed (and a tripod) to catch enough light for a well-lit picture. Y’all can even exercise cool things like use an extra-long exposure to take pictures of fireworks.
Neutral density filters give you more than flexibility to play with these settings. For case, a long outdoor exposure with a wide aperture at night may look good, just if you used those same settings during the day, your photos will be a blown out, overexposed mess. With an ND filter, however, you can filter all the daylight coming into your camera and however utilise a long exposure to get the upshot you desire without ruining your photo.
For example, consider the above image, comprised of ii similar photos from Wikimedia. The left side of this photo was taken with an exposure of one/30th of a 2d and no filter. The correct side, however, was shot with an ND1000 filter, which allows only .ane% of light through it. That photo was taken with a 57 2nd exposure. Yes, that ways the shutter was open for near a full minute. Despite the much longer exposure time, the filtered photo on the right still looks relatively normal. The only change is that the surface of the water (which would’ve been in constant move while the shutter was open) now has a silky smooth wait. Yous can frequently encounter this effect used to create dazzling images of waterfalls, oceans, and other scenery where one element of a scene moves but the residual of the shot stays stationary.
You tin also utilize ND filters to selectively control the light in a scene. Graduated ND filters feature clear glass on 1 side of the filter, a full ND filter on the other side, and a small gradient in between. This is helpful if you desire to accept a picture of a scene where one half of the prototype (say, the sky) is very bright, simply the other one-half (say, the footing) is darker. Place the darker half of the graduated ND filter over the heaven, and the lite entering your camera volition be more even. You lot tin can expose for the ground without bravado out the sky.
Tricks like this are common in the earth of movie, also. Whenever you lot see a scene with people in front of a window, chances are good that the window is layered with an ND filter gel that reduces the light shining through. If y’all were on set, the windows would look dim, since your eyes exercise a better chore of distinguishing betwixt the darker room and brighter outdoors. However, when you shoot the room through a camera, that ND gel makes the window expect a lot better. Most of the fourth dimension, photographers won’t need to ND gel a window, simply it’south important to be aware of the light sources in your set and pay attention to how to properly filter them to make the lighting in your scene fifty-fifty.
How to Employ ND Filters In Your Photography
Above: Fountain shot at f/6.3 and one/200 2nd exposure. Beneath: f/half-dozen.3 and 0.4 seconds (or 80x longer) with ND16 filter. Annotation: some colour correction was done to the 2nd photo to fix a color cast from the ND filter.
To get started with ND filters, you lot’ll need to know the notation used to rate them. While ND filters utilize several confusing notations, the most common is the ND number, often written as ND2, ND4, ND8, and so on. You tin can remember of the number in this notation as the lesser of a fraction. An ND2 filter allows 1/2 of all light through it. An ND4 filter allows 1/4th of all calorie-free through information technology. An ND8 filter allows 1/eighth of all light to laissez passer through, and so on.
You might notice the numbers for these ND filter ratings double with each new filter. With a few exceptions, most ND filters you notice will be a successive power of two. The reason for this is every time you halve the corporeality of light that passes through a filter, you effectively reduce the calorie-free entering your camera by one whole f-stop. So, an ND2 filter reduces the low-cal past one f-cease. An ND4 filter reduces information technology by ii f-stops, and on and on.
This is a handy shorthand when you’re calculating your light needs for a shot. Say you lot’re taking a photo of a waterfall and you desire that silky smooth await for the water. You have a normal shot with an f-stop of f/22—this very modest aperture ensures the entire scene is in focus—using Aperture Priority mode on your camera. At this setting, say your shutter speed for a properly exposed photo would be 1 2d (to make the math easy for at present).
Anything longer than one second and your photograph would be blown out and as well bright. So, you place an ND16 filter and an ND4 filter over your photographic camera. This effectively reduces the light by half-dozen total stops. So, to compensate with your shutter speed, yous’ll need to double the length of your exposure six times. A one 2d exposure, doubled six times (1 * 2 * two * 2 * ii * two * 2) comes out to 64 seconds. Yous’re gonna need Bulb Way for this one, but now you lot’ve calculated your proper exposure time.
Yous can as well utilize this shorthand for taking basic landscape photography. Often, the sky is brighter than the ground, so to have a skillful moving picture of both, yous want the sky and the ground to exist within about ane f-stop of each other. So, for example, if your sky is properly exposed at f/16, while the ground is properly exposed at f/five.6, then they are three full stops apart from each other. But you at present know yous can position a graduated ND4 filter (which reduces light by two stops) over the sky to bring the light closer together. Now y’all can take a picture show of the landscape without blowing out or nether exposing one-half the frame.
ND filters requite you a whole new degree of flexibility that you lot tin’t always get by adjusting your aperture or shutter speed lonely. They’re also relatively cheap. This kit is the ane I used for the photos of the fountain higher up. It costs less than $30, comes with ND2-ND16, and a variety of adapter rings for your DSLR camera. While the glass isn’t perfect (you may need to do some color correction later), it’due south a handy tool to have in your bag.
Posted by: Fusiontr.com