I purchased a set of Lee Neutral Density (ND) Filters earlier this year and I was eager to try them out during a trip to Maui last April. I was searching for ideal subjects and I struggled to find a good one when I ran across a dead tree on the beach along the Honoapiilani Highway close to Lahaina. In addition to having an interesting subject, I wanted to extend the exposure long enough to have a smooth surf but not blur my subject. This is a tricky situation as long exposures tend to make moving objects blurry (e.g. trees, people, plants, etc.). So, trying to find stationary objects next to a surf was a challenge.
Why use ND filters you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. The purpose of an ND filter is to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. Doing so allows us to select combinations of aperture, exposure time and ISO which would otherwise produce overexposed images. This is done to mostly to achieve motion blur of a subject in a wider range of situations and conditions. It’s especially useful in situations involving water. For example, one might wish to photograph a waterfall at a slow shutter speed to create a deliberate motion blur effect. On a very bright day, there might be so much light that even at minimum film speed and a minimum aperture would let in too much light and the photo would be overexposed. In this situation, applying an appropriate ND filter will allow for the slower shutter speed and enable the desired motion-blur effect.
This image was taken with my Sony Alpha a7 II DSLR using my Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 Lens set on 24 mm. The camera was set on Manual mode with the aperture set at f/16, shutter speed at 67 seconds AND the ISO set at 100. I used my Lee Filters to extend the exposure time in order to smooth out the surf. All processing was done in Lightroom. I chose a square crop and a black and white format to showcase the contrasting light.
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