Variable ND Filter

Last Friday, on All Hallows's Eve, a friend and I went on an all day photo excursion which led us to Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, GA.

Although the forecast wasn't calling for it, the weather turned out to be perfect for waterfall shooting...it was really overcast and was even starting to spit rain a bit.  

Once we arrived I noticed the color in the canyon was off the charts good!  So we start walking the 6, 450, 000 stairs to the bottom (that's a rough estimate based on my heart rate coming back up) and we finally make it to the big waterfall, which I believe is Cherokee Falls.  While the color around the falls was good, the sky was not so good...just a boring white, no nothing sky.  So that was the first obstacle to overcome.  The next obstacle was leaves in the water.  See, I wanted them to swirl around and look all cool like, but they weren't moving all that much and my exposures were in the 2 second range with only my circular polarizer on. Here's an image with just the polarizer:

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 2 seonds

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 2 seonds

Notice how the leaves really didn't move enough to cause much of a fuss about?  Enter stage left...Vari-ND filter.  I normally don't use ND filters on waterfalls themselves, however in this case I wanted the leaves to show a lot more movement than 2 seconds would allow for...so I dialed it down until I got to about 25 seconds.

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

ISO 100, 70mm, F/16 @ 25 seconds

The only thing that has changed here is the shutter speed (I took both of these shots with my Sony A7R camera, Metabones Lens Adapter, Tamron 24-70mm Lens and Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT Tripod)...and what a difference it has made!  Now we can see the movement much, much better in the leaves!  We've also smoothed the water itself out quite a bit.  

The moral of the story is:  1. Get a Vari-ND filter (or a regular ND filter in a 6 or 10 stop would work, too).  and 2. Always carry it with you!