Yesterday, I posted a tutorial on proper use of Singh-Ray’s variable ND filters, the Vari-ND and Vari-N-Duo. Here are some examples that show the dramatic difference that you can get in your images when using really long shutter speeds.
We’ve all heard that in order to blur moving water, you should use a shutter speed of 1/15 sec or less. That’s true. In fact, during most daylight scenes, it’s hard to get shutter speeds slower than 1 or 2 seconds without some kind of filter. If all you have is a polarizing filter, you can use that to cut the light by about 2 stops. Often times, that’s enough to get you some decent water blur, but it won’t really create soft water.
To get truly soft water, you need exposures of several seconds. At 4 seconds, things start getting very soft. By 15 or more seconds, the water itself becomes an ethereal foam, almost a gaseous form. On these shots, it’s important to have a subject in the frame that is sharp, like a rock or a tree branch. Otherwise, you just get a really soft, blurred image.
The fun part about using very long shutter speeds is that you really can’t predict just what the camera will produce. Trial and error are part of the process, so have fun with it!
Want hands-on field instruction on landscape photography? Join me May 13-15 in Colorado Springs for a fine-art digital landscape workshop!