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Thread: Filters

  1. #1
    GEORDIE's Avatar
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    Filters

    I am interested in doing some pictures of moving water i.e. beach stuff and waterfalls,not having done this before I need advice. I have read it requires slow shutter speeds and filters to get the ISO down. All help greatly appreciated.

    Colin

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    koolkat's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    Hi, I'm also just starting to use the Hoya +4 / +8 ND filters. Just got a good deal on these two used filters and plan on some serious waterfall / ocean shots in Oct when I take a 10 day trip to Oregon. So, other that attaching them to my 7D and playing with the "stops" from a correct exposure to where the exposure ends up with the filter(s) attached. I do believe you always want the lowest ISO as you are slowing down the amount of light into the sensor to set up a slower shutter speed to blur the water, therefore you do not want to "excite" the sensor. With both filters and a CPL filter also in place, I can really go into slow shutter speeds.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    Slow shutter speeds are quite artistic when you shoot running/falling water. However, this doesn't mean (IMO) that you should necessarily use the absolute slowest shutter speeds possible.

    Artistically, I am not keen on slowing water down so greatly that it looks like cotton candy. Bracketing exposure using aperture priority will often give you a choice between three (on the Canon 1.6x cameras) different shutter speeds. There should be one that you like better than others...

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    Re: Filters

    First thing I always shoot in Manual Mode so that is what I will discuss. Your settings will depend on the amount of water, (size of the waterfall), how fast the water is moving, the distance of your subject, and of course the lighting you are dealing with. Iíve always found it easiest to shoot falls without harsh sun and if possible no sun at all. Rainy or cloudy days are good. However I have been places far from home at the wrong time and you can with the right equipment do reasonably well.

    In addition to your camera you will need a tripod. I have achieved some reasonably good shots without one but itís not easy. What will be extremely helpful is to have at least a couple Neutral Density Filters. I have a Neutral Gray ND2 and ND3. The ND2 is referred to as a 1-stop and the ND3 is referred to as a 2-stop filter. For instance letís say your light meter is right in the center (my sweet spot for exposures I like is just to the left of center). If you add the ND2 filter the light meter will move 1 stop down which will allow you to leave the shutter open a little longer and still get the exposure you want.
    In bright situations Iíve been known to use a Polarizer which will help darken as well, and then stacking both ND filters to allow more latitude in getting the shutter speed you want.
    The key is to slow down your shutter speed. That is what creates the soft or silky look to the water.

    Compose the shot.

    Most of my waterfall shots have little or no sky in them, however if you have the right conditions you can add sky in it as well. You can also focus on a small portion of the waterfall, especially if there are several cascades to the falls. Do what you like best and try several different ones.

    What settings to use.

    I have used a shutter speed of anywhere between 1/10 of second to 8 seconds for waterfalls and for ocean shots, anywhere between 1/3 of a second to 30 seconds. The 30 second exposure will turn the waves into a mist so you will lose any detail in the waves.
    For most of my shots I shoot with an f stop of about f8 or up. A higher number like f22 is going to allow LESS light in, which is beneficial in these type shots.
    Almost always use ISO-100. The only time to use a higher ISO is if you are shooting in very dark situations, Iím talking the sun is pretty much gone.

    So keep in mind, ISO, f stop, and shutter speed (also known as exposure time in exif) all work in combination to achieve the results you want.

    I myself start at about 1 second on waterfalls and take several shots changing all the settings to get a variety of shots to choose from, some less than a second and some more.

    Filters

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    I don't do a lot of this type of photography, but I certainly have done some. You've gotten some very good advice so far. I have two ND filters; a 5-stop and a 10-stop. The 10-stop one is so dark, it is a bit of a pain to use. I find setting up in live-view is the easiest way to use it. I do use a tripod and cable release.

    Shooting during "magic hour" just before sunrise or just before sunset improves the overall lighting and allows for relatively long exposures at low ISO numbers. I've shot on manual, shot shutter priority, etc. All of the techniques seem to work well and the only thing I have had to watch out for is a bit of vignetting from the filter when I shoot with a wide angle lens.


    Filters


    This is a mid-winter shot just before sunset at ISO 100 and a 1 second exposure at f/16 with the 5-stop filter. The mixed warm tone lighting from the sun nearing the horizon and the cool tones from the shadows in the snow make for the interesting lighting in this scene.
    Last edited by GrumpyDiver; 25th August 2012 at 07:14 AM. Reason: typo correction

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    Re: Filters

    All good advice so far. One thing I'd add is that you'll be shooting on a tripod, possibly using live view, but definitely with your face and eye away from the camera. It may be beneficial to avoid light leakage by covering the viewfinder during the exposure.

    Some cameras have a built in viewfinder cover, others have small branded or 3rd party covers which can be fiddly and over expensive, but we all have hands which can help a lot to shade the viewfinder and stop unwanted light leakage.

    I personally have a 10 stop ND filter, which I'll occasionally stack with a 2, 3 or ND Filter. If you go down this route you'll need to set your camera up in full Manual mode, perhaps using a remote shutter release/intervalometer if you're running into long exposures. I'll frame the shot, take a meter reading and trial shot with the 3 stop filter attached (adjusting shutter speed to suit and taking further trial shots if highlights are clipped), lock focus, add the 10 stop and manually calculate the exposure required before covering the viewfinder and taking the longer exposure. In my part of the world clouds are a rarity and if they do appear then they are high and slow moving so a long exposure is required to get the effect I'm after.

    10 stop NDs can be too extreme, in circular screw in versions they can be a bit of a pain, but they can also give you flexibility if you don't want to be shooting at f22 and base ISO to get to the shutter speeds that you want - you can shoot nearer wide open and still get slow speeds easily.
    Last edited by dubaiphil; 25th August 2012 at 07:26 AM.

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    Here's a table I created to help with long exposures on the fly, so I keep a printout in my bag. Might be useful for longer exposures

    Filters

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    Re: Filters

    That's a handy chart, Phil. Thanks for sharing it.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by patrick9x9 View Post
    Your settings will depend on the amount of water, (size of the waterfall), how fast the water is moving, the distance of your subject, and of course the lighting you are dealing with.
    Add to those factors the direction the water is moving relative to your position. A stream of water moving from your left to your right will require a slower shutter speed to achieve the same effect as water moving toward you, such as when you are standing on a bridge and capturing the stream beneath it.

    Fortunately, it's easy to check the image immediately after capturing it on a digital camera; not so when using a film camera.

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    Re: Filters

    ND filters to prolong exposure time and make the water blured ...
    You can use also polarizing filter to remove partially reflections from the water surface, if you don't want reflections.

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    Re: Filters

    There's nothing like an ND filter to make a lively, dancing, sparkling stream look like an outflow of milky industrial effluent.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    There's nothing like an ND filter to make a lively, dancing, sparkling stream look like an outflow of milky industrial effluent.
    Obviously, not everyone likes the look... It is one way of showing the motion of water in a static image, and I do think it has to be applied tastefully. There are too many examples out these of this technique being applied with a bit too much brute force. Christopher is right, we are trying to show water, not radioactive effuent on a far away world...

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    Re: Filters

    I have been perhaps too severe in my condemnation of this special effect, but it seems to me to take the very life out of the idea of living water, and make of it something dead, something that it is not.

    Special effects cease to be special if one sees them too often, and this is an effect that would be best used very sparingly indeed, like star bursts in night scenes, and the views to be had through fish-eye lenses.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    I have been perhaps too severe in my condemnation of this special effect, but it seems to me to take the very life out of the idea of living water, and make of it something dead, something that it is not.

    Special effects cease to be special if one sees them too often, and this is an effect that would be best used very sparingly indeed, like star bursts in night scenes, and the views to be had through fish-eye lenses.
    Pretty much how I feel about HDR ...

  15. #15

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    Re: Filters

    Why is using a slow shutter speed to allude to the flow of the water called a special effect when using a fast shutter speed to stop it is not? My point is that capturing anything however we choose to capture it is an effect that at best alludes to realism or an artistic version of realism, whether we call it special or not. The closest we can come to capturing light as we experience it is when we capture a photograph of a photograph or other visual art form. Even then, we're capturing the art form devoid of its context of everything that is around it.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 26th August 2012 at 02:50 AM.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Pretty much how I feel about HDR ...
    Like using slow shutter speeds to create the look of flowing water or flowing effluent, depending on your opinion; the same thing can be said about HDRI. There is well done HDRI and there are images that have poor composition, inappropriate subject matter (people rarely look good in HDR images) and over the top tone mapping (the "Grunge" settings that are used so often are generally awful. Many people that do HRDI don't seem to realize that these images are naturally flat, and they need to look at adding a bit of contrast back in.

    The same can be said for the choice of subject matter when using ND filters. High volume waterfalls do bear more than a passing resemblence to the flow patterns of ND than, say small falls or streams.

    Filters

    This is a picture I took a few months prior to the one I previously posted and shot it at a considerably higher shutter speed (1/180th sec). I find that this does not really work either as it doesn't give the water any "life" either, and that is why, when I returned to Almonte a few months later, I tried the 5-stop ND to better interpret the volume and speed of the falling water.

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    There's nothing like an ND filter to make a lively, dancing, sparkling stream look like an outflow of milky industrial effluent.
    +1 Brocken ... it was passť twenty years ago, maybe thirty, and still people do it

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    it was passť twenty years ago, maybe thirty, and still people do it
    Keep in mind that people who aren't as familiar with photography as we are may have never seen moving water treated with a slow shutter speed. I remember showing such an image to a group of friends who enjoy my images but aren't as informed as most people participating here. They were completely wowed by it and asked how I made the image. It wasn't at all passť to them.

  19. #19

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    Re: Filters

    I have just searched for "waterfall" in Google Images, and a casual glance gives the impression that ND filters have been used in almost all the pictures, suggesting a fashion that has lead only to failure of the imagination. Like all very strong effects there is certainly a place for it, but its over-use has spoiled it for a generation, who with sinking hearts, and diminishing expectations of photography, have come to expect it.

  20. #20

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    Re: Filters

    Quote Originally Posted by Brocken View Post
    I have just searched for "waterfall" in Google Images, and a casual glance gives the impression that ND filters have been used in almost all the pictures
    Wow! After seeing your post, I did that and had the same experience. That's really a shame. I believe there is a place for stop-action water and "flowing" water and I use both regularly in my own photographs. I use one style in a particular circumstance and I use the other style in another particular circumstance. It seems that those Google images used the "flowing" style in all circumstances, which really is devoid of imagination, as you mentioned.

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