Sunday, July 4, 2010

The filters in my gear bag!

So, when I started this blog, I was thinking that I would use it to sell work! Ya, lofty goals! I really would like to eventually sell work, but I guess being out there a little longer will be a good thing for that goal. So, lately I have noticed that I have been leaning towards "teaching" some of my techniques. For example, my last post was about star trails and stacking them. And with that one single post, I got more followers then any other time! And I have to admit something, I think I am a better teacher then a photographer, but do not tell any one that! Often times, when I teach something, that someone goes out and shoots better then I! UGH! :)

So, today, I wanted to share with you a topic that I get asked about a lot. And that way, I can send others here instead of typing out the information over and over and over again!

Today I want to share with you my most favorite gear in my camera bag, my filters. I will share with you what filters I have and what the function is for each one of them. Now, one thing I have noticed about ND (neutral density) filters while going out and shopping for them, they are hard to find exactly what you want and when you find it, it might not be exactly what you want. For example, I purchased the Tiffen ND8 thinking it was an 8 stop filter. I was very disappointed when I received it and it was quite light. Ended up being a 3 stop filter.

Tiffen ND8 (3 stop filter). A useless filter for the most part for what I enjoy shooting. It really is meant to take the edge off of a bright day. I have found that with this filter, I can still, depending on light, hand hold the camera. What I use it for the most, is I stack it with other filters to add to the strength of already strong filters. The ability to stack gives me more stops when I need them the most.

B+W ND106 (6 stops). I love this filter. I started off with a very strong filter, and I got this one because the 10 stop is too dark to do a lot of things to maintain details. This filter is going to get you any where from a quarter of a second to 6 seconds. Depending on light and on your aperture. With this filter, you can freeze a wave in motion, giving it a great splash effect. With this filter you can make the water look like its actually moving! Even though you have pushed the length of time, to about 5 seconds. The versatility of this filter is amazing! And when stacked with the Tiffen ND8, creating 9 stops, you can push the exposure to 20 to 30 seconds, making the waves look more misty. (I say waves because 90% of the time, I am shooting the ocean)

B+W ND110 (10 stops). Probably my most prized ND filter in my bag. Why? Because its almost as dark as the lens cap! Its tough to work with. Its so dark, that unless you are shooting in the sun, you have to focus your camera, with out the filter on. Then lock the exposure by putting the focus on manual. Then put the filter on and shoot! This filter is great for 30 to 60 seconds depending on where the sun is and what aperture you use. On an over cast day, you really can push that so much longer. And, to really push a day time exposure to 120 seconds, I stack the Tiffen ND8 on there to make a total blockage of 13 stops of light! Some day, if I really need big time blocking, I will be brave enough to stack the 10 stop with the 6 stop, but that really is far more extreme then I chose to go! :)

And last but not least, my set of Cokin grad filters. Grad just means dark on top and light on bottom. The usefulness of these is to make it a more correct exposure when you have a bright sky and a less then bright foreground. I have two of them. A hard grad, which has a line in the middle, where the darkness stars in the middle. The soft grad, it starts off dark and slowly graduates to light on the bottom. No point of starting or stoping with the strength of the ND.

So, that in a nut shell is what I own and what the use of each one is. I love to push my exposure. Wether I want a quarter of a second exposure or a couple of minutes worth of exposures, I have it all covered here. The reason I went with the ND filters is because I LOVE long exposures and when day light savings hit, I knew it was the only way I was going to get TIME out of my shots during the day. At which is now the only time I am able to get to the beach for shooting! There is no way I can hang out till 9PM just for a beach long exposure! I have a family! :)

I hope this is helpful to you and I sure will let you all know when I get a new filter. As of right now, I am totally happy with the filters I have in my bag! :)

For this image, I used the B+W ND106 and YES, I got VERY wet from this one!

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