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Using an ND1000 Filter: A Beginners Guide

The ability to use filters is a real skill and not something that can be picked up quickly. But using them, especially an ND1000 filter, can massively change your photography and open up a whole new world of creativity.

What is an ND1000 Filter?

The idea behind an ND1000 10 stop Filter is that it allows you to slow the shutter speed right down and smooth skies and water out really well.

What is an ND1000 Filter?

I remember when I first tried using different filters, oh what a disaster that was! I knew nothing, and thought it was simply a case of popping it on the front of the lens and away you go. Oh, how wrong I was. I took the photos home to edit and hoped that I had some amazing photos in there.

One photo was completely black and the other just not useable. I was disappointed and set out to work on this aspect of my photography as I’d seen other peoples images and was blown away by them. After working on this, I like to think I have a better understanding of how to use 10 stop filters and I’ve come up with a few tips to help you out.

Setting up your shot

Get that tripod out, a 10 stop filter isn’t going to work without one. We’re talking 6+ seconds right up to 30 seconds and beyond on the shutter speed and you’ve no chance on holding the camera still. Make sure the tripod is on a steady footing, weight it down if needed and make sure nothing can knock into it.

Make sure you use a sturdy tripod!
Make sure you use a sturdy tripod!

Before thinking of taking a photo set your camera to a 2-second delay, this allows the camera and tripod to set itself after you’ve pressed the shutter button. I always use a remote release as this also cuts down on the shake.

Shooting with a 10 stop Filter

So the camera is set on the tripod and the remote is in hand. Now to add the ND1000 filter. There are a couple of variations, square ones that slide into a filter holder or ones that screw into the lens. There is no one better than the other in my mind, it purely comes down to which you prefer or can afford. Pop the filter on and we are a step closer to the promise land.

There are many forms of 10 Stop filter. SRB's screw-in ND1000 filter for example.
There are many forms of 10 Stop filter. SRB’s screw-in ND1000 filter for example.

Not all subjects work well with these filters so picking the subject and composition is key. You want a bit of movement somewhere in the image. Ideally, this comes from water or the sky, what you don’t want is something like a moving animal or something on the water. Trust me I did this on Lake Windermere and didn’t notice that ever so slightly a boat was rocking back and forth and ruined the photo.

The best place to start is with a seascape.

The best place to start is with a seascape.
The best place to start is with a seascape.

Now the camera settings. To begin with, drop the ISO right down – 100 or 200 is ideal. Switch the camera to manual mode and set your aperture, depending on the subject I’ll be setting mine to f/8 or f/11.

Now comes the shutter speed. Most cameras will tell you if your exposure is perfect so aim for that, depending on the lighting. But, for a lovely smooth image, I’d be aiming for 6+ seconds up to around 30 seconds. The longer the exposure the higher the chance of small vibrations or movements being magnified.

Check out my previous post; Landscape Photography In 7 Simple Steps.

All of this should give you a good base to start. Just remember; tripod, remote, good subject with sky or water movement, low ISO, set aperture and shutter speed. Once you’ve got the hang of it then you can start being more creative.

Oh, and have fun with it!

About the author

Check out much more of Darren’s amazing work at his websiteTwitter and Instagram!

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