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Neutral Density Filter


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7 replies to this topic

#1
Daniel

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I noticed online last week that people were using a Neutral Density Filter when taking photos of waterfalls. I don't own one yet but would like to get one before I leave on my trip in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions?



#2
Merco_61

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If you like round filters, a Singh-Ray, Tiffen or Hoya in the largest threadsize you need and step-down rings for narrower lenses probably are your best alternatives. If you already use square filters, any filter for your system makes sense. There are some adjustable ND filters that can be useful for occasional use.

I use a set of Lee 100x100 mm glass ND filters in 2X, 4X and 10X that I bought used with my Lindahl compendium about 20 years ago.



#3
Daniel

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For a sunny day is 8x or 10x good enough or do I need something stronger? 



#4
Merco_61

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Depends on how soft you want your water to look and what aperture you need, I sometimes have stacked a 10x and a 4x to be able to use f/1.8 or so and still not freeze the water in mid-day sun.



#5
deano

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Is it possible to get a similar effect with a polarizer filter?



#6
Daniel

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I don't think so I have a polarizing filter and it doesn't stop down the camera enough to slow down the shutter to get the results some people are getting. 



#7
Long Exposure

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No a polarizer will not get the same effect but using a polarizer in conjunction with an ND filter is a great idea as the polarizer will knock down the glare.

 

And to follow up on Merco's thoughts, I carry round 4-stop, 6-stop and a 10-stop filters with rings.  That way I have flexibility to really knock down the light.

 

One point untouched upon is focusing.  Once you get to 10-stop and beyond you will need to focus, then lock focus, then install the filter(s) as focusing will be near impossible with the filter(s) in place.



#8
Michael S

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I've taken hundreds of photos of waterfalls over the years and I only use a circular polarizer. It stops down about 1 1/2 stops with the benifit of reducing glare off the water.  Use a small aperture like f/22 and it will work to smooth out the water in most circumstances. You only need about 1/2 to 2 seconds to get the smooth look going. More time gives more smoothness but you can overdue it and just get a white blob with no detail. Another rule of thunb, the more water flow the waterfall has the easier it is to blur.  Small low flow ones look better with longer SS. it fills them out.  When it won't work is when the waterfall is brightly lit by the sun. Try to plan your visit for early or late in the day to avoid the bright sun or go on an overcast rainy day ideally. If the waterfall is in partial sun and shade your best option is to bracket and process it as an HDR.

Autumn at the Grist Mill

1/2 seconds - f/16 - iso 200