ND Filter Play

It’s a nice warm Saturday morning and after some time in the office it was time to get out and enjoy the sun.  A perfect opportunity to grab the camera bag and finally try out my new (well I have had it since April) ND Filter.  I have a specific photo in mind that I am wanting to capture so it’s a trip to the beach, somewhere with rocks.  I know just the place, time to head south.

Arriving at Hastings Point around 11.30 I find the tide is on the way out, a little further out than I was hoping but why let that get in the way.  So I head off down the track to the beach from the point lookout scouting the location for a good spot to set up.

Now most people who understand photography would be screaming that it is the wrong time of day to get great photos, the sun is high and harsh – balancing light is a real challenge.  This is where my new ND Filter comes into play.  It’s a Hoya ND 500 (for the tech heads that’s 9 stops of light loss).  I can still achieve that slow silky water look by adding this filter on my lens.

Finding a somewhat good location I proceed to set up my tripod keeping it quite low, almost dangerously close to the water should a good wave come in.  After setting up and turning on the live view option on my camera (thinking that it will be easier to see what I am about to photograph) right you may think – wrong.  The sun is streaming down restricting my view of the screen, the tripod is so low that unless I am going to become a mermaid I can’t see through the viewfinder.

Plan B, pick a focus point, put camera back on tripod, switch to manual mode, screw on ND, dial in settings, push button on cable release and hope for the best 🙂 (yes, that’s right – hope for the best).  On first attempt I used a shutter speed of 30 seconds, image looked a little over cooked (over exposed or blown out), so I dial it back to 15 seconds and go again.  Now to see if I am actually capturing anything decent, I pick up the camera (tripod and all) and head over to my bag, using my tshirt and hat I cover the screen to see how my photo looks.  YES – success of some sort, now my horizon is completely falling off the universe (sorry Aug 🙂 ) so will have to fix that in processing (note – not a good habit to get into).

Ok 2 photos down now to try again in a slightly different position.  So I start the process all over again.  This goes on for just about 1/2 an hour and then I decide I must get a photo from another angle, problem is there is a rock in the way and the water is coming in the area I want to put my camera.  So another plan B – I use the rock to hold the tripod from going into the water.  Just to make sure whilst taking the photo I have one hand very close to holding the tripod just in case the water takes the tripod and camera.  Very happy I made that decision as just before I go to take the next shot the wave comes in, drenches my jeans but missing the tripod and camera.  Time to pack up and head home.

After downloading my photos I am pleasantly surprised with the results but as with all things in life, mastering the techniques required is a work in progress and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to play again.

Close to my vision Black & White mist with rocks and water

Close to my vision
Black & White mist with rocks and water

Colour Versions  Left side - Abstract Pastels Right side - Colours of Sunshine

Colour Versions
Left side – Abstract Pastels
Right side – Colours of Sunshine

A few things I learned from today –  Looking at the RAW images I could have pushed the shutter speed to around 20 seconds and got a little better exposure straight out of camera.  I need a back up plan for viewing images and less clothing 😉 .  A few more tips when doing this type of photography, make sure when your camera is on a tripod you turn off any image stabilization on your lens and most importantly clean all your equipment when you get home from the beach – that includes giving your tripod a good long shower (yes, you heard right) as salt water and sand will damage and seize up your equipment real fast.

Until next week.


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