I need some help with my Nikon D40x. I'm looking to take some sharp photos of waterfalls and streams like this: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/3267405.jpg. I know the shutter speed needs to be long (30 seconds is the max I can go to) and the aperture (f/#) needs to be high, but when shooting in an area of any light the picture comes out way too bright, if not all white. The ISO is as low as possible and I've toned down other settings. Can anyone give me some advice?
#1. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 0
Welcome to Nikonians! You will need a Neutral Density (ND) filter to place in front of your lens. An ND filter will reduce the amount of light passing through the lens with out effecting the color. This will allow you to use a slower shutter speed or open the aperture in bright conditions and not over expose the image. ND filters are available in a wide range values ranging from one- stop (2X. 0.3) to ten-stops (1000X. 3.0) and even higher. ND filers can be stacked to increase the effect without having to own every value filter.
There are also Graduated ND filters available that are commonly used for shooting sunsets or scenes with very high contrast. Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!
#3. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 0
I assume you know you have to use a tripod and minimize camera vibration as much as possible via, maybe an IR remote, or self timer. The 40X apparently has a minimum 100 ASA, unlike the 40 at 200 ASA. You may want to consider a polarizing filter, which has multiple uses over an ND filter. It will gain you about 1.5 stops toward your goal, and possibly provide some nice glare reduction. So, set at ASA 100, with an f-stop of 32, if you have that, in bright sunlight you should be near a 1/25 sec. Add in the polarizer, and you should be near 1/10 sec. When water is moving that fast, you will get some of the effect you are looking for. Shoot on a overcast day, and the effect improves substantially.
#5. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 4
A UV filter won't do anything to help increase your shutter speeds for shooting moving water. I would have gone for a ND filter as the first step, but the Polariser does have other capabilities that you may find useful. Just remember that it (like an ND) should not be left on the lens all the time.
#6. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 4
Digital cameras are not sensitive to UV light. Thus UV filters are not even a good choice for protection for which Clear or Neutral Clear filters are now recommended. UV filters will not reduce the amount of visible light passing through the lens therefore as Brian wrote, will not help you increase the shutter speed.
A CPL will provide between 1.5 & 2 stops which will allow you to reduce the shutter speed by a factor of 3 or 4.
#7. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 0
It is difficult to be sure but my guess for the image posted in the link (which seems to be someone else's copyright) was taken with a wide angle at 4-8 seconds shutter speed rather than 30 seconds. Waterfalls look good in low contrast light as in the link. We get plenty of low contrast light similar to the link image in the UK In light similar to in the link an exposure of around 1/4 second at f16 should be possible. If you have a pol filter it can be used as an ND and would get around 1 second. The main accessory to get for slow shutter speeds (if you do not have one) is a good tripod.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#8. "RE: Shutter speed / aperture light issues" In response to Reply # 0
All good advice though i'll add also, shooting early in the morning, or late in the evening will also allow you to slow down the shutter speed with the added benefit of having better quality light rather than the harsh light mid-day offers on a sunny day. Checking the exif data on the image in the link you provided, exposure was 1/4 second at f22, similar should be achievable with your equipment. Extrapolating the sunny 16 rule (1/iso @ f16) approximate exposure on a bright sunny day, at iso 100 would be 1/100 @ f16, slow your shutter speed 2 stops w/polalizer is 1/25 shutter speed. If you manage to shoot a similar shot on an overcast, cloudy day you'd need another 2 stops or so of light bringing your shutter speed down to around 1/6 of a second. Add to that early morning/late evening lighting another stop or two could be gained easily getting you into the 1/4 to 1 second range. Obviously you'll have to be patient waiting until the right conditions exist but with a little planning, seeking the right time of day it's doable with your equipment. Conversly also adding ND filters as Marty mentioned is an alternative allowing you to comphensate exposure as needed to suit existing light conditions. As mentioned also, a tripod or other solid camera support should be used. For example, as we have a wet rainy cloudy overcast day here today, i just stepped out and metered an exposure with my camera set at iso 200, pol filter in place, aperture set at f22. At the brightest cloudy area i could find metered 1/10 of a second, while what would be a shaded grassy area (if it were sunny), metered 1 full second. Dropping to iso 100 then meters 2 seconds. If i were to change the pol filter to a 4 stop ND those numbers would drop even lower.
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