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How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter

We explain the steps needed to take great burred waterfall shots with an ND filter, along with how to improve your results.

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We explain the steps needed to take great burred waterfall shots with an ND filter, along with how to improve your results along the way.

Equipment needed: 

  • Digital camera and lens
  • ND filter
  • Circular polarising filter (Optional)
  • Tripod

Step by step guide:

How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter: Tripod in River

1. Setup your tripod and camera in the location where you think you will get the best photograph. Move your camera to make sure composition is right, and take a few photos to see what the scene looks like. If you're in a public area, play close attention to the surroundings to ensure there is no rubbish in the scene that might ruin the shot, or require lengthy editing later. 

2. Use a small aperture (such as f/11-16) to ensure the shutter speed is slow, although if you set the aperture too small, such as f/22, then image quality will suffer due to diffraction.

How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter: Waterfall Without Filter P4100012 | 1/13 sec | f/20.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200
Waterfall Without Filter | 1/13 sec | f/20.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200

3. Set a low ISO setting. You can use the lowest ISO setting on your camera, however if it is a "Low" or "Extended" ISO setting then you might want to use the lowest standard ISO setting, as the extended ISO range tends to have lower dynamic range. Using a small aperture of f/20 and ISO200 has resulted in a shutter speed of 1/13 sec.

4. Switch the camera's self timer on or use a remote release cable or remote release over Wi-Fi.

5. Once you've got a slow shutter speed, you can add an ND filter such as the HOYA PROND500 or PROND1000 to slow the shutter speed down further. If the camera struggles to focus then you'll need to set the focus manually, and this may be made easier by focusing manually before adding the ND filter.

How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter: HOYA PROND1000 P4100014 | 25 sec | f/20.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200
HOYA PROND1000 | 25 sec | f/20.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200

6. Take the shot. Using the HOYA PROND1000 10 stop filter has resulted in a shutter speed of 25 seconds.

7. If you have glare and reflections on the water from the sun, consider using a Circular Polarising filter such as the HOYA PRO1 Digital Circular Polarising filter, as this can reduce reflections and increase colour saturation in the photo. Using the Circular Polarising filter in combination with the ND filter has resulted in a much slower shutter speed of 60 seconds, and we've reduced the aperture to f/10 for a sharper image.

How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter: HOYA PROND1000 And CIRPL P4100016 Copy | 60 sec | f/10.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200
HOYA PROND1000 and CIR-PL | 60 sec | f/10.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200

8. Once you're happy with the composition and blur of the water, you can take a number of shots, as the light changes during long exposures can affect the result, and you may get better lighting conditions in another shot. You can also try different angles and positions.

9. Once home, edit and crop the photo if required, to boost the colours and correct the exposure and colour if needed. You could also try converting the image to a black and white image to see if you prefer the results.

How To Take Blurred Waterfall Shots With An ND Filter: HOYA PROND1000 And CIRPL Edited P4100016 Copy | 60 sec | f/10.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200
HOYA PROND1000 And CIR-PL Edited | 60 sec | f/10.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 200

You can find more guides on how to use filters in FilterZone.

 

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