I have read enough about ND filters to realize I can benefit from one. So I have a variable ND filter coming from B&H. I am not sure I understand all of the capabilities of the filter. What would be a good set of exercises to do to explore the full capability of this filter?
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#1. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 0Bump57 Nikonian since 01st Apr 2007Mon 16-Jan-12 01:08 AM
I don't own one but like you have read about them as well. One easy thing to have fun with would be to find some moving water like a small stream or river. While photographing such things lots of photographers like to really slow down the shutter speeds to get that silky smooth look to the water. In day light this is tough to do unless you have a ND filter which will block some of the light and let you lower the shutter speed. Seeing is how we are neighbors (I'm in Tremont) I would like to be able to suggest a place to go but the only place I can think of locally right now is Mackinaw, i.e the Mackinaw river. Peoria Nature center would be another place but I don't think there is much water in those creeks right now. Anyway I am sure you will find many other uses for it and look forward to viewing some of your images when you do.
Scott Martin Sternberg
Scotts Fine Art
#2. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 0KolinP Nikonian since 13th May 2006Mon 16-Jan-12 03:05 AM
This is a great question Gary, because I bought one of these a few weeks ago (a medium-quality HAMA brand).
One of the exercises I'm looking forward to trying is to take very long exposures of a shopping area or a busy street, to see how effectively I can make the moving people evaporate into whispy, ghostly blurs (or maybe even disappear completely), while 'allowing' the static buildings to register in full detail ... although I expect I'll get some interesting artifacts from reflected colours and highlights too.
I've already done my "stage one / what are its limitations" exercise, to find at which point in its scale of 'dimming' I begin to see bad colour distortion.
That loss of credible white-balance at the near-extremes can be forgiven to some extent if we turn such colour-skewed photos into black & white images, but then, with this particular filter - a Hama 77mm Grad Vario ND2-400 "Model 00079177t" - as I approach its really extreme 'ND' values, I also get un-missable (purple) dark bands. Those bands are (I judge) impossible to edit-around, and they vary depending on my angle to sunlight etc., because they're an artifact of this filter's use of polarised elements. I think the highest-quality ND filters (from Sun, for example?) claim not to suffer from these artifacts.
But I knew this filter wouldn't be perfect throughout its entire dimming range, and I took a clue from the fact that the highest priced equivalents were as much as two or three times the price that I paid, and - as always - we get the quality we pay for, eh?!
I look forward (hopefully) to more lateral thinking ideas from others on this nice paradox of reducing our available light
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#3. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 2Baaker Nikonian since 18th Aug 2009Mon 16-Jan-12 07:01 AM
This one does the job albeit with limitations.
At wide angles the effect is limited. I find it useful if you use it with say a six stop and use the Fader to "fine tune" the effect.
#5. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 3Mon 16-Jan-12 01:58 PM
Thanks to my friend across the pond. I followed your link and it was helpful. Now, I have an assignment for you: You need to get the cost of your fine British magazines down to where we colonists can afford them!!
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#4. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 2Mon 16-Jan-12 01:56 PM
Thanks for your input. I appreciate all the help I can get. When you spend the kind of money we are talking about in photography it is a shame not to use and optimize all equipment. I can hardky wait for the thing to arrive. It is coming Wednesday.
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#6. "RE: Good exercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 4Bluefin Registered since 14th Nov 2006Tue 17-Jan-12 05:04 AM
I have a singh-ray variable ND filter and I am always delighted when I get a chance to pull it out and use it.
Obviously water is an easy place to practice. Not much of an ocean in Illinois but a lake on an a windy day would be almost as much fun and a great way to practice using it. Artists like Michael Kenna have certainly made famous the fabulous effect of waves during a long exposure. Practice will help you judge how long the shutter needs to be open to get the dreamlike effect that appeals to your artistic sensibilities. I love Kenna's look but I also like a shorter exposure where the drops of water in a crashing wave or a tumbling stream get slightly blurred but are very recognizable.
#7. "RE: Good exercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 6
#8. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 0
Water is my favorite choice, but there are plenty of options.
As suggested, photographing people in a busy shopping area is fun.
Consider photographing a street scene that has moving vehicles. A long exposure can make the vehicles magically disappear.
Try photographing birds in flight with a 1/100-1/200 sec shutter speed. With a VR lens you can track them horizontally and blur the background.
Try the same kind of panning technique with cyclists.
Try zooming in or out with a 1-5 second exposure and mounted on a tripod.
I'm not sure if you have the gear, but try a macro or close up with the zooming technique. Start with the most in focus image setting and zoom out.
Try photographing a group of trees while moving the camera vertically to create an abstract. Use a 1/2-1 sec exposure.
Many of these techniques work better shooting a burst than a single frame.
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#9. "RE: Good excercises for a ND filter?" | In response to Reply # 8