Spending most of my life looking at one screen or another, I’m trying to cultivate hobbies that doesn’t require a display most of the time, such as photography.

After watching Practical Photography’s video on landscape photography I really wanted to try out the natural density filters that enabled the photographers in the episode to keep their camera shutters open for several minutes without causing overexposure. The outcome are photos with an unreal but incredible look to them. After searching a bit online I got a 10 stop filter from B+W since they’ve gotten reviews and are priced pretty reasonably, and headed out to give it a go.

Lifeboat with 10 Stop ND

The moving water next to this lifeboat in my hometown Gävle turns into something that almost looks like glass. 61 second exposure at f/18, 24mm, ISO 100 using a Canon EOS 6D, EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM.

Lifeboat

This is the same scene but taken with a shutter speed that doesn’t require a tripod.

A few things that would’ve made the experience better:

  1. The B+W filter has to be screwed on and off between every location since the camera can’t autofocus with the filter on. There’s simply not enough light for the camera to determine where to focus, so focus has to be set either automatically or manually beforehand and then turned to manual so that the camera doesn’t try to autofocus while you’re taking the long exposure. Not a huge hassle though since the time spent changing the filter is a lot shorter than taking the actual photo, but it’d be great if the filter was easier to attach and detach.

  2. Canon’s iOS app for remote controlling the camera, which is required for exposures longer than 30 seconds, doesn’t let you enter how long you want to shutter to be open before shooting. Instead, you need to wait with a finger pressed at the app’s shutter button while keeping track of time. Be careful with walking around with the phone while waiting, you may accidentally cause the app to switch between portrait and landscape modes as I did a couple of times. This causes the shutter button to move which is interpreted as a release. Not great if you’re doing a multiple minute exposure, or if it’s blistering cold outside I can imagine.

Canon Camera Connect

Canon’s Camera Connect app for remote control is great besides not being able to enter the wanted shutter speed.

Jetty with 10 Stop ND

75 second exposure of a jetty with f/22, 30mm, ISO 100 using the same kit as the previous image.

So in conclusion, I’m delighted with having the filter in my bag to be able to take these kind of shots. Next step is to find some software that solves the issue of having to hold down the shutter button for minutes.