Using ND Filters for the first time

OK So I am a relative newbie, when it comes to photography, I have learned to take the training wheels off my Nikon D5300 and shoot in manual, in particular I would like to thank several people and several blogs,

I know there are so many more, but there are to many to name.Some have taught me a lot, many have simply inspired me, whether you know it or not you have all taught me, or urged me forward my so much. Anyway I do digress. So apart from shooting in manual and doing my own post processing, I have learned a lot various challenges as well, Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto and B& W Challenges, Photo101, Weekly Photo challenge, One Word Challenge, Monochrome Madness………..need I go on?

Yesterday for the first time really I got to play with my Hoya adjustable Natural Density Filters……..I have had them for so long, but never really got the feel for them. I was out with Leanne Cole’s Social Snappers yesterday at Cape Schank (on the Mornington Peninsual) and she guided me through using them step by step. Thank you!

Picnic Dinner

Cape Schank & Pulpit Rock

Now I will admit, that these two pifling trifles are nothing compared to the likes of other photographers, however I was quite proud of them. I am sure I will look back on this post in 12 months and cringe, but hey, that’s part of the learning process! As A newbie I would like to impart some words of wisdom; to the professional photographer these are probably common sense, but when you are trying to figure out a dozen things at once the simple things tend to slip the mind. Kind of like learning to drive and forgetting the blinker!

Learn you camera, not just play with it, but learn it. Read the manual, read forums, ask questions. This does not happen over night it takes a while for everything to sink in. I have had my camera less than 6 months and I still keep finding out new things. But the more you know the better the photos, or get less head aches! Same goes with your equipment. Yesterday I took my new Tripod, (OK so not a super expensive fancy toy, but it was not a el cheapo no name either). But my camera kept wobbling on the head piece. It was not until I got home that I realized there was this stabilization pole that needed tightening……D’oh moment! The other thing about my tripod, is that it is kind of heavy when you have to carry it everywhere, I must have bought the only one that did not come with a bag and carry strap! So I will be investing in those after yesterday. And even though it seemed really heavy after carrying it everywhere, when it mattered it really wasn’t heavy enough in the wind, and I had to keep a very tight hold so my camera didn’t end up going for a swim. I have noticed on some tripods have a hook to hang you bag off and add some weight and stability – I think Moth will make something up for me for my tripod. The other thing I made sure when I bought this one, was that it would take the weight of my camera. My old tripod was bought for a much smaller lighter old Olympus and really was not suitable for the new Nikon, which is much heavier with the bigger lens attached. So when looking at tripods, make sure you look into that. There are a lot of other things that I never looked into and probably should have. Check out these two Posts on Tripods & Tripod Accessories. But I have what I have now, bought in a rush when I thought I knew what I needed! Huh?

Also when you are taking long exposure shots you need to keep the eye piece covered, in the bottom picture you can see the whites blown out on the sides? I think this is because the so called ‘clever’ eye piece cover that came with my camera was useless and fell off the first time I tried to take a photo, and then I lost it in the rocks……..thanks Nikon! I saw Leanne had a hat she put over the eye piece and view finder when she took her pics! Great idea, so I am throwing in a hat, as well as my trusty plastic poncho, I can put it on my head when I am not taking photos, the hat, not the poncho!

I also learned that my 18-200mm Nikkor lens only goes to f22 but my 18-55mm will go to f25. Plus my Hoya ND Filter fits my 18-55mm lens anyway, the higher the number the smaller the aperture and the less light. And when you are taking long exposure shots you want to minimize the light. I tried with a filter held over my bigger lens but even with the ISO set to 100 it was still letting in too much light. I need to learn to manually adjust the exposure and make it underexposed by 1-2 stops to counteract the over exposure……….does that make sense? That brings me to the ISO, the ISO needs to be really small (ISO100) if it is too high it also lets in too much light, besides the lower the ISO the less grainy the image will be, crisper and clearer if you like. I thought I knew most of this, but when push came to shove it all seemed to go out of my head?

I guess that brings us to the remote shutter release. I bought one off Ebay, for about $20.00……….guess what? it is $20.00 piece of junk….it only works half the time and you have to push the button down really hard……….all this while trying to hold my tripod steady, cover the eye piece and focus a photo……………it’s a minor miracle I got any pictures at all! I have used Smart Phone Apps as well, however I only get 1-2 photos and then I have to reset everything again…………..such a pain, hence why I bought the remote trigger release. I guess I might have to look into a decent one!

Oh and if you are shooting at the beach, don’t forget to bring alcohol and lens cloths to get rid of all the spray off your filters and or lens………….I had already learned that one the hard way in NZ! I guess that brings me to filters……..there are so many, and some of them a really expensive……….some a really cheap, after my remote trigger I am glad I didn’t get cheap filters, I got good ones without going too expensive, Hoya and Kenko. Also I went glass not plastic……I got told they are far better, but I can’t really compare? I have UV Filters, mainly to protect my lens, I have Circular Polarization filters which I usually use outside, especially at the beach! and I have 1 x HD Filter it is fitted to the lens itself and you can adjust it by rotating the ring. The Downside is if you have cold fingers they can be difficult to get off! Same for UV filters and such……………and DO NOT RUSH getting them on or off if you damage the thread on your lens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG…………not good!

Well that is about it, seasoned photographers are probably all laughing themselves silly by now, at my probably pathetic attempts at long exposure, some at what I have to say or some at them selves for doing the same dumb things! But we all start somewhere and if I can help out or inspire 1 person…………then hey it’s been worthwhile post!

– Julz

P.S. I really would like to say a very big thank you to Leanne Cole who has taught me so much and never seems to mind how many questions I ask! If you have not been to her Blog, please do she has amazing long exposure shots, so you can see what they are REALLY supposed to look like.



9 responses to “Using ND Filters for the first time

  1. Pingback: Cape Schank and Flinders Pt 2 | Photographic Jewells

  2. Pingback: Photo101 – Triumph | Julie Powell – Graphic Artist

  3. Pingback: Creating Long Exposure Photographs with ND Filters | Julie Powell – Photographer & Graphic Artist

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