Photography Tutorials and Articles

Digital Photography Filters – ND Filters

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Why do photographers use ND Filters?

In part one and part two I talked about the Polarizing Filter and UV Filter, as one of the most popular filters in photography.

In Part Three I am going to discuss the ND Filters and their role in digital photography.

What are ND Filters?

ND filter is another great tool in photography! ND stands for Neutral Density. ND filters are dark and effectively allows you to reduce the exposure, whether shutter speed or aperture value. For example, if you are shooting on a very bright day and want a wide open f stop to create a shallow depth of field, or use a slow shutter speed to blur the action, your best tool for the job is a ND filter.

Without ND Filters

ND Filters
In this photo I tried to reduce the shutter speed but I can not get slower tan 1/100sec, at f22 and ISO 200

With ND Filters

ND Filters
By adding ND Filters i dropped the shutter speed to 3 seconds at f22 and ISO 200 to create an amazing photo

Are there different ND Filters?

ND filters come in variety of density from half a stop to 10 stops. You can also stack them. There is a little colour shift when you use good quality ND filters. The best practice is to use custom White Balance when shooting with ND Filters, or simply shoot in Raw format and correct any issues in post processing.

ND Filters

What kind of ND Filter do you recommend?

It all depends on how much you want to reduce the exposure. Generally speaking, I found that a 4 stop ND filter is very versatile for many scenarios. You can stack ND Filters as well.

What is Variable ND Filter?

Recently filter manufacturers came out with Variable ND Filter, which allows you to change the density from 2 stops all the way down to 10 stops. But be aware that the extreme end (10 stops) will create a heavy colour cast (green or pink colour cast) on images.

ND Filter made the slower shutter speed available in this Light
ND Filter made the slower shutter speed available in this Light

Can we use editing software to create ND Filters effect?

The short answer, unfortunately, is: No, I don’t recommend it. You need to adjust the exposure by using ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed. When there is lots of light, you cannot use long exposure or shallow depth of field and still get the correct exposure. This is the main reason for using ND Filters; they allow you creative flexibility by helping tame the light. 

That is all for now. Stay tuned for more articles and useful tips in digital photography!

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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