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Advice on using 'Big Stoppers' / Black Glass (x10 ND filters) - When, Where, How long etc


Taff e2
10 59 Scotland
1 Mar 2013 7:45AM
I've long been an admirer of long exposure shots where the motion of water is blurred, as in this example by Fazzer which is one of my particular favorites.

I've taken the plunge and have ordered the B&W Multi coated 10x ND Filter, so I'm looking for some advice on where to start Smile

My gear will be - Alpha 65, Tripod, Sony 16-50 F2.8 lens, B&W 10x ND filter and a very warm coat!

I'm fortunate in that I live within walking distance of some great beaches in the Scottish Borders, my first thoughts are to go here , Which is a truly beautiful location in the Scottish Borders called St. Abbs Head. There's a very rugged coastline with lumps of rock sticking out from the sea near the water line.

Just after some tips really if any of you guys can help: -

* What's the best time of day to try it? - As it's the East Coast of Scotland, my thoughts are early morning as at Sunset the Sun is behind the cliffs and may cast too many shadows.
* Camera settings, in terms off - Aperture, ISO, Exposure?
* Raw or Jpeg? bearing in mind I struggle with the concept of RAW at the moment I'm afraid (Even though I have Photoshop CS 6!)
* Any other pitfalls, potential issues I may come across?

Any advice, guidance would be very much appreciated.

Taf

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Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
1 Mar 2013 8:00AM
Time of day - any sunset/sunrise are probably not the best time (unlike conventional photography)
Cloudy days can be great - again different from normal
Lowest ISO
Cable release
Cover viewfinder
The longer the exposure the better
F11-f16
Stable tripod (watch wind buffeting)
Always, always use RAW particularly for long exposures, as getting exposure spot on is not easy (a lot of guesswork).

As a rule of thumb 1/30 sec exposure without filter equates to 30 seconds with. Get into the habit of counting stops in your head. But in long exposures 1 stop can be a long time (30secs, 1min, 2min, 4min) are all 1 stop increments.

And yes the location looks OK
Taff e2
10 59 Scotland
1 Mar 2013 8:09AM
Just noticed my Google Maps link isn't really in the right place :-(

If you go into Google Maps and type in Horsecastle Bay, you should be able to see it.

If you zoom in you can see a very small beach. There are cliffs either side so hopefully I'll be able to frame these in the shot, but should also get the water and some of the jagged crops of rock which stick out of the sea.

Fingers crossed!
Taff e2
10 59 Scotland
1 Mar 2013 8:13AM
Thanks Nick,

Good reminder ref. Cable Release!

Excuse my ignorance, but why do I need to cover the viewfinder?
Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
1 Mar 2013 8:16AM
Rather than going over old ground I show an example in the link below why it's important to cover the viewfinder:

http://www.ephotozine.com/user/nick-w-61515/blog/hitech-prostop-nd-filter-2898
joolsb e2
10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
1 Mar 2013 8:20AM

Quote:Excuse my ignorance, but why do I need to cover the viewfinder?


That has been the standard advice for long exposures for many years and relates to the location of the exposure meter sensor near the focussing screen (the piece of ground glass that sits directly above the mirror in an SLR).

Covering the viewfinder simply prevents stray light from entering from the back of the camera, causing the exposure meter to give a false reading. Many cameras have a special blind built into the VF for this reason. If yours doesn't, simply cover the VF with your hand during the exposure.
Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
1 Mar 2013 8:23AM
image.jpg




Jools it's not exposure but light leaks (see image). With ultra long exposures its outside the cameras ability to measure - you meter without the filter then set the exposure manually.
Taff e2
10 59 Scotland
1 Mar 2013 8:26AM
Hi Nick,

Great link with some valuable learnings Smile

Point taken with the Viewfinder issue. There's no viewfinder cover on the Alpha 65, any ideas for the best way to stop light getting in?

Possibly a large blob of Blu Tack?

Thanks for your help.

Taf
Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
1 Mar 2013 8:27AM
Gaffer tape
keithh e2
11 23.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
1 Mar 2013 8:45AM
A cloak of shame. Wink
Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
1 Mar 2013 8:48AM
LOL..only you could think of that Wink There again your probably the only one that can remember back to the old ground screens Wink
keithh e2
11 23.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
1 Mar 2013 8:55AM
I lived down the road from Margam House. I often told that Talbot he was wasting his time.
Pete e2
13 18.7k 96 England
1 Mar 2013 8:56AM
If you have an iPhone, this App is useful if you don't want to work out the exposure: Long Exposure Calculator . There may now be other operating system alternatives.
sitan1 e2
6 565 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2013 8:59AM
Here is a link to a post I done on how you can do a custom white balance in camera for 10 stop filters out in the field.
Custom White Balance
Hope this helps a few people simple and easy.
WoW the picture of Nicks with the light leakage is an eye opener, never had that happen to me before but I do sometimes just place my camera cloth over the view finder which helps I suppose.
If you look online there are quite a few exposure tables which you can print out and take with you for working out shutter times or even just use your smart phone if you have one.


Quote:Time of day - any sunset/sunrise are probably not the best time (unlike conventional photography)
Cloudy days can be great - again different from normal
Lowest ISO
Cable release
Cover viewfinder
The longer the exposure the better
F11-f16
Stable tripod (watch wind buffeting)
Always, always use RAW particularly for long exposures, as getting exposure spot on is not easy (a lot of guesswork).

As a rule of thumb 1/30 sec exposure without filter equates to 30 seconds with. Get into the habit of counting stops in your head. But in long exposures 1 stop can be a long time (30secs, 1min, 2min, 4min) are all 1 stop increments.

And yes the location looks OK


All great advice from Nick which covers most things

Also don't be afraid to take your aperture up and above f/16 to lengthen them exposures.
Make sure you pre focus before putting on your filters and switch to manual.
Just a word of warning it gets quite addictive lol.
derekhansen e2
6 200 24 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2013 12:52PM
I have the Lee Big Stopper so here are a few thoughts of my own.

Time of Day
I agree with Nick. The worst time to use the filter is at twilight/sunrise/sunset unless you like standing around for very, very long periods of time.
Subject
Its my personal opinion that images featuring a combination of static objects (either natural or man made) with moving elements such as water, clouds, fields of crops etc work particularly well. I also believe that such images work better in monotone or images with very little colour, but again thats my personal taste.
Exposure
There is lots of good advice in the responses above so I wont say any more than with experience you tend to develop a "feel" for the timing.
Viewfinder Cover
I have a spare viewfinder eyepiece which I have filled with blutack. I change over to this just before opening the shutter. Saves adding and removing the blu tack and having to clean the glass.

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