Day 296 – Stop The Light

If I had to say one accessory that has made the biggest difference to my landscape photography, it would be my neutral density filters. They let me control the light to get the shutter speed I want for the look I am after, and in the case of graduated neutral density filters, to even out the light across the entire scene.

I currently use the Lee filter system, and my latest purchase is a Lee Big Stopper, which is a 10 stop neutral density filter. This gives me the option of some really long exposures. For example correct exposure at 1/1000 of a second shutter speed once a 10 stop filter has been added becomes a 1 second exposure.

I took the Big Stopper out for a test run today on sunset, and I am a huge fan of the results. Click on the picture below for a before and after.

Taken right after each other, I ended up leaving the shutter open for a little over 3 minutes after adding the Big Stopper due to the fading light. Even then it was a little under exposed and I increased it by about 1 stop in post processing. The biggest issue is that you really only will have a limited chance to catch the image you are after, if it is during particular light such as sunrise and sunset, because of the long shutter speeds required for the correct exposure.

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11 thoughts on “Day 296 – Stop The Light

  1. This is such a timely post for me as I’m realizing that I need a “Big stopper” ND filter and wasn’t sure where to start. I’m heading out to Shenandoah National Forest and wanted this effect with the waterfalls with fall colors. Thank you Ian!

  2. Do you know, I was looking for filters on the internet last night cos I really think I would find some benefit in investing in a few. Big Stopper gives a gorgeous effect. Love the misty water!

    • Thank you Roo. Definitely worth it, and if you are unsure of what you are after, there are plenty of cheaper options for filters so you can try out a few without spending huge amounts.

  3. Wonderful image, and very instructive. I recently added a 20mm lens to my bag (which I’m loving), but it takes a different size filters so was thinking on the drive home today about picking up an ND and a grad. I was thinking 0.9 not 10 – but now you’ve given me something to think about. 🙂

  4. Not sure if you still check this, being 4 years later, but what lens do you prefer to use for shooting landscapes? something wide like 8-10mm or slightly more tele, like 24?

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