Photography Tips – How To Use an ND Filter

doesn’t that all look lovely going on down there with the nice sky and beach huts and all that kinda stuff come down here today because I wana talk to you a little bit more about using a Lee big stopper filter now there’s two sides to this film
really one is about how to use one now we’ve already made a
film with Tom Mackey which you probably see, we fell in love and ate cheese and threw stones in the sea, if you haven’t seen it go and have a look for it hope you enjoy it but I want to talk to
a little bit more in-depth just take you through the thought
process ove using a big stopper but this thought
process runs through all love photography this is like
thinking through the picture you want to take and the
making choices about your camera settings along the way, now this is gonna be rehearsed I have very rarely used my big stopper I have
to confess because landscape isn’t something I do a great deal of so this is a learning curve for me as
well wanna do is go around see if I can find some shots that I think will work and the talk you through while I think
they’ll work then you can watch how I set it up and the questions I
asked myself to get the settings that i’m gonna need
so without further ado expose the we better go and take, hang on, do you know lorna? you probably met Laura if you’ve watched
many of films you’ve probably met Lorna she’s modelled in quite a lot of them, if you’ve seen the one wit an introduction to flash where i’m talking about bouncing light and there’s a girl socially soaking wet t-shirt its Lana
well today is Lorna’s Lorna is making her very first film with us so good luck, anyway this can take some pictures soon
find okay I found the shot which I quite like this thorough beach
huts over here I got the dark one on the end we got the
cream one on the right to make a nice a rough cuts against the sky a windy day like this is bright for big
stop because things are moving the wind is blowing across this way so
the clouds up here in theory when I’m after is a shot with
the clouds for blowing across that way is a dark cloud up here as well which
hopefully we’ll come across that will be a lot more noticeable so let’s have a look time actually put I
tried put in place already because you don’t necessarily need to
watch me doing that how did I find the place where I want my shot well well I do it is I will do it by hand and
move around and fine where my shot needs to be but
little adjustments to the exposure in the composition and resume and all that kinda stuff as
I’m looking through the camera then I found my place put the tripod into that place and put
the camera on it I already kinda did that for you I’m
because you don’t be bored watch me do it i’ve a cable release on because the any
way to use a big stopper is with the long slow exposure we want
this line is that the exposure for the movement to the clouds in the
sky to blot will contrast against and the stillness at the beach huts so
forty put that on next it’s just check what we’re doing because we want
to slow exposure we can use a small aperture you need to
do this in manual mode I have set my smallest aperture I with this lens which is f25 let’s have a look through the viewfinder manually check my exposes gonna be a
thirtieth the second should be absolutely finds over 30 the
second f25 I’m using daylight white balance because I rather than a cloudy money now
it’s a cloudy day because easy to warm the picture of the
day after was then is to try and remove some soda gallery nasty color casts okay rule in place there I’m using my lowest I so again because
someone the shutter speed to be really really slow also said to be the nicest colors like
the colors in the big house stand out a bit more so wanna do now is just take a picture of the shot as it is so we can have a
look at it before and after so taken that picture now next let put
on the big stopper insect take my lens hood of my the adapter ring onto the front to the lens you can get
them in all sorts of different sizes to fit all your different types of lenses the guy screw them home focus saying has to be done before you
put the big stopper on this so dark that the
camera cannot see threesome to focus I mean define just put that their over the lens
you can say have dark a big stopper its yeah people
most blocks all the lights sounds like a welder’s
mask and so the exposure has been sacked also
focus needs to be set before you put the big stop on our already done that because the cameras would focus won’t
work for it either of side the filter holder that comes on really this kind of took it on the front
there and click into place there we go slide in the filter dropped water in the corner that’s what
I’m hoping isn’t going to affect it because it’s right there in the very
bottom corner we’re getting a fuel spatters if Rangers starting this one weather should be pretty good
for this sort of shot cause I can see through won’t bother to
look so my exposure was a $30 for the second big Stoppers come with an exposure
calculation chart to help you calculate from what the camera
says to what it needs because it is removing
10 stops have light if I get down here on the chart
thirtieth gives me thirty-seconds okay so that will be a
30-second long exposure we should be enough time for these
clouds to move in the sky hoping they gonna be good enough on her
didn’t get the dark one that I wanted nevermind side let me sets a 30 second exposure turn the dial you get here we go all the way to thirty-seconds I’m I’m gonna use my mirror lockup to the mirror will jump up and lock out
to the Y and finally I want to stop like getting in the back here because it’s a stray light good get into the back to the camera lift-off mara and that could mess up
your exposure know me I have the black tape in the
back some cameras have a little thing that slots on the back to do that but i cost my many years ago and I used to keep peace black taken
aback but in the bag of but I’ve got it so I’m just gonna plug
the hole plug out the final with blue TAC every day now I know if someone here
horrified at the thought of sticking blue TAC with the camera’s viewfinder trust me it
won’t hurt it so a 30 second exposure is set
everything is ready to rock and roll and first click this the Mara second pic starts the exposure weary now is wait for 30 seconds during that time clouds will move through the sky I’m
hoping that that movement will kind of record onto the
camera sensor as a bit of a blur and we come to the ends guys to look see we’ve got no picture of hmm son’s going in again the light is
changing all the time my been quite good the Sun so they’ve
started to come out beginning a fall short sis have a look through these LCD’s
course is the same hard to look at our I you’re in the sunshine are turned into a
blind people on the Benny Hill glasses on so we look at the first show it’s really
nice we got nice kinda clean bright silver shot with the clouds going on in the sky when
we just flick aunts their the the big stop a shot see how this can
also become a blur they just cant have moved around they
come so soft and candyfloss like I quite like the difference between
those two yeah I quite like this okay bernie & 1 wells we can find this looks really interesting we got the
light coming in from over here the Sun is coming out we’ve got quite a movement going on in
the water we got the rocks to ankara love the glinting on the water to let’s
see what we can do with the big stopper we live in a hurry cuz I don’t like to
change three dozen grasses down here they gonna come amid in the bradys move around the move stop
at the slow shutter speed is gonna let that happen book the city which is kinda moving
around mortars the classical Biggz big stopper talk to shop the slow exposure show me
take one without the filter so set up my exposure but chose my composition with the rock
here in the crawl San everything going on over there looks nice just shape the lens unceasing into the lie I
don’t dance lessons have been putting a shadow over the
glass with my hand we got this in my shop even without the
big stopper let’s get our Neutral Density on their slow everything down that tells me it’s
a $50 for the sixties for the second shots a space the filter in get my calculator 63 the second without means fifteen seconds with the big
Scotland filter so let’s sets fifteen-second
exposure see sup yeah I wanna to 15 seconds well as my piece of trustee blue TAC to stick in the back
here to block the be fine I don’t like sneaking in there 15 seconds we’re ready to rice to the shadow over the filter to Sedona
get flak coming off the filter so I’m gonna hold my hand here and hope
that they get my hand in the shop during these fifteen seconds
the sea is moving the grass is a waving clouds are moving
a little bit and why he got a well that’s going on our exposure is happening in the camera
say let’s have book turned into a blind P these days gotta put these on ball the like that’s nice all that water
looks amazing the difference between the two is really
quite exciting I’m really enjoying this summer
experimental time around what happens just take your time I shot slowly
because the way through them there’s another one to me we just come
then hits my favorite it’ll be pressed wrong and I wanted a bowler
facing known as freezing cold want to become a coffee unfortunately they close we just missed
it still never mind this is interesting hope it’s which I think my work using the movement that you need
with a big stop up here we don’t flag fluttering on other
wanna take it down so gotta be quick we got this I’ll here the sales is gonna
be jabbering in the wind I really like Beach Cafe Restaurant sign so first thing find the composition so lots of bending the knees moving
around finding the pictures going to work which I’ve already done and got the
camera imposition so let’s just take a picture strain of a flag against the sky like that i think
thats point nice to manage to a big stopper
shop from for school that’s find our exposure now remember we walk fairly slow exposure I probably don’t
wanna go quite as low as I have so many years f11 to let me set my exposure up for a
11 that says 160 if the second f11 side 160 for the second is gonna be cool look 125th gives us eight seconds so some leaving 8 and 15 seconds I’m gonna go with the
ten-second exposure site big stopper in place and also notice have turned the camera
up on its side on its and because just because you’re using a big
stopper or shooting landscapes or something doesn’t mean you would have to view
camera flat just you know things a bit differently sometimes so it
was a 10 second exposure they are looking for swine that down 10 seconds I don’t know
if this is gonna work this is gonna be pure experimentation everything’s done IVP refocused I’ve switched off the
autofocus so that I know the focus can’t move now I have to do is press the shutter latest run its course 10 seconds during those 10 seconds the flags moving
the sale bobbing up and down is probably a little
movement going on in the clouds in the sky there is here there’s also shot all thank you very much che’s appreciate
that no worries thank you nice people know
they close the book stack up with cups coffee of people like that you so let’s have a
look compare the two all like that love the
way that flag is rippling like crazy when we compare it
to the faster shutter speed shot I really kinda like that this to a
percent serve movement into it boo I’m pleased that works I didn’t know
whether it would or not so don’t be afraid to experiment to be afraid to get
things wrong you know I am get out there if you’ve
got a big stopper don’t have a good I’ll play with it
hopefully that’s given you some insight into the thought behind it set your exposure first think your way
through it and come home with three great pictures
that you pleased with that you’re proud of that you might wanna put up on the
mantelpiece will stick on the wall running coming home with loads that in
knots Akane on another thing I’m think about where you
can a guy who when you do this than just go out and
spend a lotta money on something like a Lee filter which had a pretty expensive
because the good quality than just buy one thing going to a
gravel car park expect exciting pictures think about where you gonna go where is
the likely to be shot with this movement is one of the reasons we came here apart
from the fish say because I know there’s water moving this
can be grasses waving flags fluttering that kinda stuff sorry I I hope that

100 Replies to “Photography Tips – How To Use an ND Filter

  1. i do love long exposure photography and the results it can give you, its like no other form of photography.
    Thanks you two for another great film

  2. Hello Mike, how do you use the Lee 2 and 3 stop ND filters. Recently, in manual I have attempted to do this but they have not worked. So, I switched over to bulb and guessed my exposure of 1 or 2 seconds where am I going wrong ???

  3. Hello Mike, I looked with passion at your tutorial and, after reading a lot about the ND filters, because I want to understand more about long exposures, I realise that you mentioned using the smallest aperture of the camera F22 which is in contrast to what other professional photographers recommend. When I say that I mean that after a certain value of aperture diffraction starts to kick in and it softens your images that they become unusable. From what I read on Internet, each lens has a sweet spot of the best sharpness corresponding to an aperture between certain values (for example F4.5 to F11) and beyond that the diffraction starts to kick in gradually the more you decrease the aperture. Can you reply with your thoughts? Regards

  4. I'm assuming you don't shoot in jpeg. You don't need to worry about the white balance if you are shooting in raw, you can change the white balance in post.

  5. but all this camera trickery, what's the point? it's been done a zillion times and just looks fuckin tacky. you use nd's to get shallow depth of field, that's it.

  6. I just watched this. Your teaching style is relaxed but thorough. I can't wait to get through all your other videos!

  7. I get some bright red, green, blue and purple spots on my photos when I use a ND filter… Could dust on my ND filter cause that? I have a B+W 10 stop ND filter and I shoot with a Nikon D5500 with Sigma 18-35mm f1.8.

  8. Is that a carbine tri-pod? What is the brand name and model of that tri-pod. How is the weight for traveling with it.

  9. Great video learnt a lot, but Just out of interest where was your focus point. Do you have a video explaining where you should set your focus point.

  10. As ever a brilliant instructional video Mike, I couldn't agree more with your comments below about the individual decided wether between the expense of a high end product against a budget alternative. £100 for one filter is a huge expense for someone starting out on their own especially when there are sets available for around £30 which will give similar results (at lower resolutions). The difference in quality will be apparent when the images are going to be used in large print formats. Everything said you can always buy the superior product as an when your business budget grows and the need arises. Great video Mike.

  11. Amazing videos you make man I find them very helpful!
    Can you please suggest what ND filters, polarizer should I buy as a beginner?

  12. Just got my DSLR camera. Found your tutorial videos are concise but very informative.
    Thank you very much and keep it up.

  13. hello mike, great video you did there. I want to ask something, you used f/22 in your video, wouldnt it make the image become soft? thanks for the advice mike.

  14. outstanding video, I learn more about neutral density filters than any other time. thank you and keep up the great tutorials

  15. Say i wanna do one now of landscape nikon d7100 i only have Cokin p152 153 154. what settings will i use.


  17. Hi Mike,
    This is Tejas from Vancouver and I have seen all your videos. I have learned so many things from it. I am really interested in buying those Lee's filter. I have tried looking on the internet but couldn't find any online store. Could you please recommend me from where should I buy the filter with adapter ring as well?

    Thank you.

  18. Mike, its sad and shameful that American Tv shows would opt for violent, perveted and lewd episodes inlieu of a channel like yours.

  19. (Alan) Melissa knows my views on ND filters :)…… Yes they can help you to produce some amazing effects, but from my experience, once people purchase them they think they have to use them all of the time. My view is that they should be used infrequently. If I see one more picture where someone has used an ND filter to flatten out water or made a waterfall look like candy floss, it will be one too many.

  20. Hi Mike, great video, what lens size did you use was it a prime or zoom and did you use single point focus, thanks Ken.

  21. three minutes in and you got me hooked brother; reminded me greatly of my desperation to shoot in a crowd with me shutter dragging the shite out of the people and cars with the camera locked off on my tripod! Had to have my friend wait as I ran around like a lunatic with an 85mm lens to find the shot. Eventually my friend just jumped into the middle of the street as I could not move back any further.
    Your models right now are some beach huts I suppose:) Though watching this little video has forced a little brain spark as to whether a ND filter would have created a more colourful image cutting out some light from the street and caused my supermodel to pop more. Little tight now but I may get to grads in time.

  22. Great tutorial video Mike. Thanks. I've just taken the plunge and bought myself a decent filter holder so I'm now going to save up for some filters then get out there and try it.

  23. I don't quite understand the F22. I understand that you want long exposure, but don't you use a lot of quality of the lense by setting that high aperture values?

  24. Ooooh! HOLY SHIT! NOW that I have tried shutter dragging in daylight without a big stopper; confused me at first because I am always searching for pools of light shooting at night (my brain was very confused for a bit. asking myself why the heck would i want to cut out SO MUCH light?") . Shutter dragging, night shooting nut that I am, the big stopper would really allow me to drag during the day. Dang! Wow that took some experimenting for my tiny brain, and now I am understanding why one would use a big stopper.
    SORRY MIKE, but this film was fun to watch…..BUT I HAD TO GET UP OFF MY ASS AND TRY THIS to understand why on earth I would cut out so much light. LIKE I SAID THOUGH, film was lovely intro. But after watching one time and then a second, it was down to me GETTING OUT AND TRYING MYSELF 🙂 ha, "try it and see". And indeed, I saw the light!

  25. I yanked and turned some wrenches, more than I would like my arms to; almost shocked myself as I fixed some heating systems for several different people. I now have the dough for a stopper. Now it is just thinking of where to use it in cold NYC. Excited, even though my arms are cursing me; they are probably puzzled as I told 'em I we were going to stop this type of activity:)

  26. Oh yeah brother. I got me the dough and am grabbing a set of grads. Arms are rioting. Now pack a bag to stay at my mum's place about a mile from some beautiful beach. I am probably going to stick the battery pack (that I really don't care to use) on as I don't want to have bits of sand in the lens or change batteries on a cold beach and thankfully I will be shooting during the day….because it is quite cold right now and dragging long exposures on a windy beach at -3C might be somewhat nutty. But I am the king:):) I love that comment. thanks for that. Any serious warnings about shooting in the cold are we welcome.

  27. Okay Browne. Big question that I have is wtf does "beyond the infinity point of the lens" mean???I can shoot a landscape at F2.8?The wooly hat, but no gloves. You will never guess home many layers I had on:) This night shooting is truly a filthy habit! I pulled one of the old bikes out of the basement and had not too much trouble getting to the deserted beach. I can truly, without a doubt, understand why one would use a Big Stopper after shooting last night for about an hour. I shot with my bag holding my tripod steady, cursing myself the whole time as I had yanked the two prime lenses I use for very dark jazz club night shooting and my flash gun bag which is fairly heavy. I love my tripod. It is taking a hell of a beating though. At -1C, the first battery was almost flat before I left; the wind was much stronger than I had believed it would be and I will see if any exposures are sharp. Used Mup and cable release. Who knows, maybe I should not be such an idiot when the wind will not be so high tomorrow. Hands were just about done when I pedaled back from the beach, little over a mile away.

  28. spent about five hours on the beach with Alistair and my main man Shay who got his legs dirty with sand and see water. Fun day of using histograms, shutter speeds, and a big stopper. pictures may not win a competition, but I had fun and learned a lot freezing my ass off. Thanks Browne…..dunno what for? 🙂

  29. I HAD A FRIGGIN' BLAST shooting on the beach with my BIG STOPPER. Did not feel like landscape shooting as there were a tiny bit of people walking along the beach. Felt like I was adding some street shooting in.

  30. Hi Mike. Great tutorial. I saw the one before with you're friend Tom Mackey and I'm glad you've given up cheese gorging.ND filters are on my to buy list. Thanks, JA

  31. HAHA! There is a little stopper, big stopper and a super stopper!! I think it cuts 20 stops out. Could not be arsed to research it as I am nowhere near able to afford another stopper:)

  32. Is this at Mudeford Quay and Mudeford Spit Mike? I'm going there in two weeks to relive childhood memories of the place.

  33. The long exposure photos look really great!
    But we live in the 21st century. Maybe manufacturers of cameras should add lower ISOs instead of that big black piece of DUSTY glass?

  34. Hey Mike, could you please make a video on using ND filers in broad daylight? For portraiture? I've seen that happen in some tutorials on YouTube, but I'd like to see a tutorial from you, as you are a great professional 🙂

  35. Mike, why not saying that the time with the ND filter can be very easy calculated with a small calculator. The formula is time (sec) = sensor time (sec) X (2 power number of stop of the filter). for instance 1/30 sec with a 10 stops will give 34.15 secs
    Habe a nice day

  36. Always good tutorials Mike! Thank you so much for helping out novice like me. Cheers from the Netherlands.

  37. Mike I follow your videos an I have a question: Is it possible to set sharp with your ND Filter on wifth Life View?

  38. Loved the video, thanks. Instead of blocking the rear viewfinder to prevent light leaking in, would it not work just as well to run the camera in Live View? (it may be a dumb question as I am totally new to DSLR photography, so don't laugh! – When I bought my 80D it came with a piece of rubber to do just as you have said. To be honest, I thought this was some sort of mistake / misprint or a joke, I never thought that they were serious, like I say, totally new to this so any explanations are most welcome – The other thing was about your choice of F stop. Why do you go for the f25 rather than opening up the aperture to take more advantage of the filter?

  39. Nasty pinch on your right hand there mate, for sure you where in a hurry when setting up that beach shot. Anyway thank you for taking it like a man and teaching me photography at the same time!

  40. Great video Mike, big fan of your content. I’ve been looking at filters, I saw Cokin at first but then swaying towards glass filters such as Lee for the quality. If I get Lee filters, what would you suggest to start off with? Also Photography Show at NEC Birmingham next month, maybe see you there?

  41. Thanks for this video! Have you already experimented with the wind direction? If you have the wind from left to right or right to left you get horizontal streaks. But if you have it from front to back or back to front you get it like rays that seem to come from a center. All this is due to perspective. I want to start experimenting with that myself and I guess you would like to do that too!

  42. hi, thanks for your videos……………..once you set your camera and took a test shot you put on the lens…….did you focus the camera again ? it must focus okay with such a dark lens on the front I suppose

  43. I have been studying & trying long Exposure for about 6 months now. Thank you for your video. My question is: After I focus & then switch to M does any of the movements I'm making ie putting on filter cause any movement in the focus?

  44. I’m new to Photography, also just bought a camera. I’m learning about ND Filters and all other things and it’s like a galaxy to digest it all. However, how do I even know what size screw on size filter I even need on the front of my camera lens to even get a ND Filter.
    I’m also assuming here from just watching the video with these big square looking ND filter he was using with that attach thing to hold the glass, but is the reason for that filter attachment so it can fit into any variable lens attached to the camera as a ND Filter?

  45. Love your work Mike and thank you for being such an informative teacher. Is there a way to calculate shutter speed using other filters? The Big Stopper has its chart but I was wondering if there was a way to do the same thing with other filters?

  46. I use nd filters so i can use a wider apeture for a more shallow dof with lets say portraits or flowers in the midday sun . I dont do landscapes often but i will try it one day with a nd filter too 🙂

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