A Guide to using the Lee 10 Stop ND Filter
What the filter does is block out light which increases our shutter speed, it increases it by 10 stops of light so we can get very long exposures during the day, normally we would have to shoot at dusk or first light to get these long exposures.
Not any more, so a fantastic filter to use when visiting places and don’t have the luxury of waiting for low light. The main effect it has is to smooth out water and creates really nice skys, it is amazing how much cloud moves in a couple of minutes
Read here an earlier post on the Lee Filter system
As you will be using long exposures you will need to set your camera to Bulb if your shutter speed exceeds the longest available on your camera (most are 30 sec)
For long exposures a cable release is ideal, one that sets a long exposure ( 1-4 mins is common when using this filter)
The filter dosn’t throw a colour cast but DOES alter the colours, best to shoot in Raw and adjust colour balance latter if need be.
If your camera has long exposure noise reduction, turn it off as it doubles the time to process an image, hence a 3 minute exposure takes 6 minutes before you see the histogram.
If you plan on taking a lot of shots then make sure your camera battery is fully charged, long exposures are quite a drain on the battery.
I found taking the whole holder and filter off while composing shots was easier than sliding the filter in and out, just make sure you have a safe spot in your camera bag to place it while you re-set your shot.
- Compose your shot as usual without the filter in place.
- Take a shot to workout your shutter speed, a tip here is to work backwards, for example I may decide I want a 2 minute exposure so I would look at the exposure chart that comes with the filter and see that I need an unfiltered shutter speed of 1/8th of a second. I would then select the aperture I wanted and then the appropriate ISO. Remember at this stage you should be taking test shots and checking your histogram that the exposure is correct.
- This filter is so dark that when in place you won’t see any thing thru the view finder, so you will need to switch to MANUAL FOCUS.
- Set your camera to bulb and set your timer release for the long exposure, you will also need to set the aperture and ISO that you chose.
- Place the 10 stopper into the holder. Remember it must always go into the slot closest to the lens and the felt must face in towards the camera to create a light seal.
- Place rubber eye-cap (if you have one) over the view finder. This stops stray light entering thru the view finder. You should actually do this for all tripod mounted shots.
- Take the shot and wait ..... then go WOW.
And here are some before and after shots to give you an idea of the effects we can get.
Although this filter is quite expensive, it is a really handy one to have. There are cheaper circular ones that screw on but that would drive me mad screwing the thing on and off all the time between shots and setting shots up. I also like this system as I can add a grad filter. In the last image there of Lorne Pier I used a soft grad as well, I spun it sideways to lessen the exposure on the left hand side of the image, certainly helped.
I think this may be a look that I tire with but for the mean time its a bit of fun and I find myself looking at daytime scenes differently.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions.
I have a couple of workshops that cover filters.
Sensational Seascapes - Merimbula NSW, 3 day workshop
May 17-20, 2013, click here for details
Controlling and Understanding Light - Day Workshop
Sunday June 2nd, 1.30pm - 5.30pm
Sunday Nov 24th, 1.30pm - 5.30pm