Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re going to take a look at why I carry ND filters with me when I travel. We’re in Stockholm, Sweden. We’re going to do several shots here and let’s take a look at the reasons why I use NDs when I’m traveling.
There are several reasons why I use NDs. I’m going to go through each one of them. But first off, I feel like two items make you and help your images look professional. Number one is a tripod because you can do long exposures and you know you’re going to be sharp. Number two is ND filters. When you don’t carry ND filters you can’t do the following several things and it makes your images look far more professional. It really moves you to the next level. Trust me, if you don’t do these four things you’re going to wish you had. So check out why you should use ND filters.
So let me explain the ND filter system that I use. I’m using the Tamron 28-75mm. I think it’s a wonderful walk around lens. I’m using that while we’re here in Stockholm. This is the system I use. I buy all my filters at 82 millimeters. 82 millimeters gives me a large enough filter size to cover all of my lenses. Now I step them down. And I buy three filters. Here’s three filters I want. I buy a Nisi one to five variable. And then I get a Nisi three stop and a Nisi six stop. Now I’ve got nine, in reality 14 stops of ND. I rarely ever use up to five. I just don’t like any kind of variable filter at the very end. I try to keep it at three to four stops. Occasionally I’ll do five. Nisi is probably the best filter I’ve used with regards to being able to go to five. But I now have 14 stops of ND. You might think to yourself, “Well that’s really crazy too much.” But just like the stuff we’re going to shoot today with blurring people walking, it’s needed because you’re out in a sunlight situation. You got to really get rid of the exposure to give yourself those long exposures. And we’ll talk about the four ways that I use an ND filter when I’m traveling. So there’s my filter setup. Now if I don’t, I’m not going to use a 67 millimeter I can throw it on to a 77mm or an 82mm with just a simple step down ring. So I carry those three filters and two step down rings. Step down from 82mm to 77mm. A step down ring from 82mm to 67mm. Now that goes on every lens that I carry with me. So there’s my filter system while I’m using an ND filter when I travel.
One of my favorite things to shoot when I travel is a time lapse because they go great with any kind of video I’m shooting. They’ll go great as an introduction for any kind of a still slideshow presentation I do. Time lapses are incredible. My favorite time lapse is when things are blurring. And the only way you can get a blur on people during the daytime is if you put an ND filter on. I’ll stack all the ND filters. I’ll get up to 13 stops of ND. I want to get a shutter speed of a half a second maybe even a little longer. But that just gives you this blur. And look at how it blurs and then the people stop when they’re waiting for the light, then that blurs and they stop. I think it just has a magical wonderful look. You can only get that look with an ND filter. Otherwise your time lapse are like it looks too much like stop-motion to me. And I just think time lapse that blurs has a beautiful look. So you need ND filters if you’re going to create a really cool looking dreamy time lapse. Camera settings for this type of time lapse: one third of a second. I’d put it at f/4.5 because I want a little bit a depth of field. I’m on that 28-75mm from Tamron. I did a long one where I’m across two streets and so I kind of cropped in. I was almost at 70 millimeters. Then I walked a little closer and I went a little wider, about 50 millimeters. And I shot them coming towards me and crossing. I wanted cross patterns. I wanted people coming towards me and people crossing. So people come and stop and people would cross and that was the goal to get those two cross patterns. So they blur and they stop, they blur and they stop. It’s just a beautiful look. So those are my settings. One third is probably about a minimum. I would go to a half to a second even. There is a point where people start to blur too much and they almost disappear and it kind of defeats the purpose. But around a third to a half a second to even a second looks pretty amazing depending on how fast things are moving. If things are moving superfast, then a third of a second is going to be way too long. If they’re moving super slow then a second is going to be more of what you want to do. So there’s a look at camera settings on that time lapse when people are blurring.
Another place where ND filters are super helpful is any kind of flowing water, fountains, waterfalls. They just give you a silky beautiful look when you extend the shutter.
Give yourself a long shutter speed and that water starts to build and just looks fabulous. Any of the water fountains we’re shooting here in Stockholm we will put that ND filter system on and get a long exposure. And it just looks silky and wonderful. I mean it really moves your photography to the next level. It looks more professional. It looks like you took the time to really make it look right. Okay, take a look at the image I did with a short shutter about an 80th of a second. Now take a look at that same image with a long shutter using the ND filters. Which of those two do you like the best? It’s obvious to me if you want your images to have a professional look and bring them up to the next level, you need an ND filter system. So using an ND filter with any kind of running water those, two love each other.
Another reason I carry ND filters is because anytime I shoot video on a DSLR or a mirrorless camera I’ve got to have ND filters because they don’t have built-in NDs. And I want a shallow depth of field. Especially when you’re working in the daylight. If you’re ever doing video with a mirrorless camera or a DSLR that doesn’t have built-in NDs you’ve got to have NDs to be able to get down to f/2.8., especially in the sunlight. So when you’re outside in daylight you want to get a shallow depth of field so you get that really beautiful cinematic look you’ve got to use ND filters. So here we are at f/14. Let’s put NDs on and see what the difference is. So here’s three stops and it brought us down to f/5.6. Look at the difference in the background. It makes a huge difference. It allows you to isolate your subject matter. It makes the background fall way more out of focus. If on this lens we can go to f/2.8. We can make that background way out of focus. So using an ND allows you to isolate your subject matter and lets a background fall out of focus. And is really the way most feature films are shot. So I carry an ND all the time because when I’m shooting video I want a shallow depth of field, especially in sunlight. That’s when you really need it. And this is a great time when you put three stops plus a five stop variable or six stops plus a five stop variable. Or both plus a five stop depending how bright it is outside. It allows you to keep your ISO low and gives you a great, beautiful out of focus background.
One of the reasons I carry an ND filter is because I want to be able to smooth out the water. And with 8 or 10 stops of ND the water just starts to look like glass. It has a very beautiful look. It’s also sometimes, and I got some down below, if you put a long, you put several layers of ND on you’ll get enough of a long exposure that starts to make the reflection look clearer. All of the wiggle and the water starts to leave and you start getting stronger reflections. I got that on the buildings I shot down below and you can see that happening. If there’s too much movement it’s just not going to happen. There has to be enough, it has to be still enough, so that it has the ability to get rid of that motion. So there’s a little bit of breeze right now and there’s motion in the water. So it’ll make that look smooth but it won’t strengthen the reflection. So creating a long exposure with ND filters can strengthen the reflection in the water. That’s another reason I carry NDs. So we just walked across the bridge and got across from downtown Stockholm and we’re looking back at the buildings. And we shot as the sun went down. We’ve got some beautiful stuff as the sun was going down. But the lights haven’t come on in the city like we’d hoped that they would. We’re just not seeing the kind of brightness in the city I wanted to see. But we’re certainly, we’ve got some great shots as the sun was going down. And then we used that ND filter to kind of smooth out the water. It looked really pretty. Let’s take a look at some of those. So let’s take a look at some of these exposures at 1/80th of a second. Now compare that if I go to 15 seconds. Look at the difference in the water in the foreground. Let’s take a look at this scene without the ND filter. Now let’s take a look at it with the ND filter. You can see a difference. The water is very smooth with that ND filter and very choppy without it. Let’s take a look at these buildings without the ND filter. Look at the reflection in the water. Now let’s take a look at it with the ND filter and that long exposure and see how that reflection starts to clean up. We get a stronger reflection in the water. That’s a really good use of an ND filter. When I say good use of an ND filter what I mean is not a stop or two stops. It literally has to be a long exposure, 10 seconds or 15 seconds. So you’re going to need to stack three, six, nine to 12 stops of ND to be able to get this. I always carry a three-stop ND, a six stop ND and a one to five variable. With that combination of those three filters I can do anything I need to whether it’s for video or for stills. It just gives me the ability to get those long exposures and that’s what’s going to give me that glassy looking water.
This has been a wonderful experience here shooting in Stockholm Sweden. The people were so nice. Just a wonderful place to be. You know, I love using ND filters. I feel like it takes your photography and your video to the next level. I think it’s really important to carry a set. I think, like I say, that set of a three-stop, six stop and a one to five stop variable just gives you the ability to stack and to change. Just a wrap up, just to make sure I made it clear, the reason I do that one to five variable is I can put a three stop and the one to five if I don’t need that much. Or a three and a six and the one to five. Now the one to five allows me to just make my fine tune adjustments, half a stop, three quarters of a stop, and allows me to really dial it in. And as the light changes I can dial it in with that one to five. But I can stack a 3 under it and a 6 under it, or 3, 6 and 9 under it. And just gives me a wide range to be able to get exactly the exposure that I want. So there’s why I carry ND filters. Even though it’s weight and it’s space, it’s worth it to me. Because it makes my images look so much better. It really moves them to a professional level which is worth the weight and the space. So if you want to check out any other lessons on filters check these out and keep those cameras rollin’ keep on clickin’.