In the interest of keeping control of the light and being able to use shallow depth of field in bright sun, I updated my neutral density filters this week, as inspired by Lee Filters, and then set about experimenting a little. Not having a model handy, but wanting to play, I took the ND16 (4 stops) up to Catoctin Mountain Park looking for a stream. The included were created in bright daylight (not direct sun) at f8, ISO 100 at anywhere from 4 to 15 seconds. The key factor here is, 4 – 15 seconds in bright daylight. That’s the reason the rushing water becomes so soft. While these were created in order to refresh their me as to their use and to practice with these new replacement filters, I do like the results; they smack of my early personal work in B&W film, decades ago.
One of my favorites:
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Without the filter controls applied, this first is what we get. Not much appears to be going on, although the potential is there.
By adding the filter and the commensurate extended exposure time, plus a little creative post processing, we get:
The original idea – use with people – gave way to some scenics, as you see, but the ability to use 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 stop neutral density appeals to my desire for additional control. Back in film days I had round filters, but couldn’t find them. These seem a bit more flexible, especially if one wishes to add graduated filters.
The big problem will be the inability for the camera to find focus once an ND has been applied. Not so much the 1 & 2 stop ND’s, but from 3 upward could interfere with autofocus. The sample here was focused first, then the lens switched to manual focus, the filter dropped in place and exposed according to manual settings, as well. Obviously, working with a model when using darker filters and seeking the shallow depth of field we desire when using these carries some problems, but that’s why we play now, so we don’t have to when it’s your assignment we’re photographing.
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