Taking a break from birds

Several months back I was asked to do an article about long exposures using Tiffen ND (neutral density) filters, more specifically, the Tiffen Apex ND filter from their XLE Filter series.  The Apex is a 10 stop ND filter.  It is also equipped with a standard near IR blocker and a hot mirror to eliminate all IR pollution that you might normally get with long exposures.

This image was made at a lake close to my home.  It was taken near mid day, but using the filter I was able to get the exposure over a minute.  Which allowed me to show some movement in the clouds and water, leaving it looking much smoother than it was.

ISO 50, 24mm, F/22 @ 1 minute 14 seconds

Hover over the image to see camera settings.  Click the image to view it larger.

If you aren't familiar with using Solid ND Filters there are a few things to keep in mind.  You will need to compose and focus before attaching your filter.  Most likely you won't even be able to see through the camera after attaching the filter.  Be sure to switch your lens to manual focus.  If not, your camera will try to auto focus, which it will never be able to do, with the filter attached.  Another good tool to have is a ND Filter Calculator app to keep on your smartphone.  There are several of them that you can download for free and they all do the same thing.  You can put in your base exposure (aperture, ISO and shutter speed) and the number of stops of your ND filter and it does the math to calculate your new shutter speed.  It's super simple.  Even I can use it!

This image was made using my Sony A7R II, Tamron 24-70mm Lens and Tiffen Apex ND Filter.  Of course, a minute long exposure requires a very stable tripod.  For this shot I used my Sirui T-2205X and G-20X Ballhead.  Although this is designed to be more of a "travel" setup, it is more than sturdy enough to hold your wide angle lens for long exposure photography.

Mexico Beach Fishing Pier

During the last week, we had one sunrise in between workshops.  We decided to get up even earlier and make the drive over to Mexico Beach for sunrise.

I had never been here, but I heard a rumor that they had a big fishing pier and, since I am a sucker for those, I was on board.

I went with a specific objective in mind.  To try and capture longer exposures while the color was good.  I accomplished this by using a Tiffen Apex 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter.  Adding the filter really allowed the water to be a lot smoother which enabled more of a reflection of color off the water than you would have been able to get without the use of the filter.

ISO 400, 24mm, F/11 @ 25 seconds

I captured this image using my Sonay A7Rii, LA-EA3 Adapter, Tamron 24-70 Lens and Tiffen XLE Apex Filter.  Of course these long exposures can't be done without a solid platform.  I was using the Sirui W-2204 waterproof series tripod.  Since it is waterproof and sand proof, it was sure nice to leave a shoot on the beach and not have to run home and clean sand out of my tripod!

10 Stops of Neutral Density

Recently I had been working on an article on long exposure and I had the good fortune of trying out a new 10 Stop ND filter by Tiffen, the XLE Apex filter.

This filter is unique int he fact that it has a IR blocker and Hot Mirror added.  These are added to eliminate IR pollution that you might get when shooting really long exposures with these types of filters.

Once I got the filter, I headed out with my Sony A7R, Tamron 24-70 Lens and Sirui T-2205X Series Tripod looking for interesting long exposure scenes.  It didn't take me long to fall in love with the filter.  I knew just playing with it a bit I needed to get to the coast for some daytime long exposure shots.

Luckily I had a trip to Houston already planned, so I went a day early and basically started in Galveston and worked my way up and down the coast looking for subjects.

ISO 100, 40mm, F/14 @ 25 seconds

I came across this pier.  It was actually The Galveston Fishing Pier.  I found a place to park along the roadside a few hundred yards away, walked down to the waters edge to find a giant pile of rocks.  This was a welcomed sight!  Not only did it make a great foreground anchor, but there was no beach area here, so I didn't have to wait on swimmers or people to get out of the way.  The waves were crashing over the rocks as the surf was moving pretty good that day, too.  Bonus!

I adjusted my composition to include the pier in the background and capture the rocks with the dreamy effect of the surf from the long exposure in the foreground. Without this filter, my exposure would have been a fraction of a second and the effect wouldn't be near as cool as it turned out with the 25 second exposure.

I mentioned my tripod earlier, the Sirui T-2205X.  I absolutely love this little tripod for traveling.  It is very light, folds up really small and still holds up for use for these long exposure shots.  A tripod is a must have for these types of shots, too!

ISO 100, 24mm, F/14 @ 20 seconds

This is the exact same spot only a slightly different comp.  I also choose to create both of these as black & white images.  I believe these long exposure shots tend to look better in black & white, but that's all personal preference.  I hope to be sharing more of these types of long exposure shots with you that I captured in the near future.