Brighton Pier on a cloudy morning, 2015
Two iconic landmarks of the Brighton & Hove seafront. The weather was pretty cloudy so this was perfect weather to test out the Big Stopper ND filter. The filter reduces the exposure by 10 stops, so an exposure of 1/30th becomes 30 seconds and an exposure of 1 second becomes about 16 minutes! This delayed shutter speed, means that you capture different textures in the sky and sea as seen in these images.
When photographing by the sea, always check the tide times. You can do this online, using Tide Times or Tides Chart or I actually have an App for my phone, which is really useful and fairly accurate. It is essential to check the tide times for your shoot in terms of the visual aspects of your land/seascape and for your own safety!
This 16 minute exposure makes the water as smooth as glass. The exposure is only made possible by using a ND filter to reduce the exposure, and for this I use a Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter.
Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up about the ND filter, some from the Lee filters website and some from my own experiences!
- Calculate exposure by doubling the exposure 10 times on a 10 stop filter. So 1 second goes from: 1 second, 2s, 4s, 8s, 15s, 30s, 1 minute, 2m, 4m, 8m and finally 16 minutes. Note you round down what would be 16 seconds so that you can then double in terms of whole minutes.
- Allow a bit of extra time too, so on the above calculation I might expose for about 20 minutes, as you lose more through the filter rather than less, so overexpose rather than under expose UNLESS:
- The light is increasing/decreasing. If shooting at sunrise, bear in mind that the light will be increasing by the minute, so a lot can happen in 10 minutes of exposure so try to adjust your exposure if it’s getting brighter. Equally, if the light is fading, you’ll probably need to allow more time for the exposure to catch a bit more of that light as it gets weaker and weaker with the passing evening.
- Cover the viewfinder with a black cloth. This prevents any fogging of the image as when the mirror is up exposing, light can get into the image through the viewfinder. I actually use a black lint free glasses cloth as I can stuff it into the viewfinder recess.
- Use a shutter release cable.
- Make sure the tripod is as secure as possible. When shooting with a heavy lens, I’ve found the weight slightly moves the camera during exposure so triple check all tripod fastenings are secure.
- Always ensure the filter is clean before shooting.