ND (NEUTRAL DENSITY) FILTERS - What are they and how do they work?

I get asked all the time what filters I use. It seems that landscape photographers are obsessed with filters. Perhaps they seem them as absolutely necessary. Maybe they're the missing link. Perhaps they feel more professional in using them.
 
I don't often use them but one I never leave home without is my ND filter. I love it! I have both a 6 and 10 stopper.
 
What are they? Basically they're a piece of dark glass that limit the amount of light coming into the camera.
 
Why would you want that? Well a slow shutter speed of 1 second or more is great for blurring water down the beach or in a waterfall. If there's too much light around, no matter what you set your camera to, you just won't be able to achieve that shutter speed on it's own. You need help (don't we all!).
 
That's where the ND filter limits the light and therefore means that you HAVE TO use a slower shutter speed to allow enough time for light to come into the camera.
 
Make sense?
 
Here's a shot by participant Peter van Zeyl on our One Day Camera and Lightroom Workshop here on the Mornington Peninsula yesterday. Being the middle of the day - sure not the best light but they wanted to see Dragon's Head - the light was bright. It was about 1/60 @ F16 ISO 100.
 
To get that shutter speed down to the magical 1 second mark, I leant Peter my 6 stop ND filter and BINGO! Perfect movement in the water to really make this photo sing.
 
I think you'd agree it's a great result. If you haven't got an ND filter and want one, jump onto my website where you can purchase it now. I have other strengths and sizes available so email me tom@tomputt.com if you need something in particular.

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