Long Exposures Using ND Filters to create amazing photos

What is an ND filter? What is it for? How do you use it?

ND or Neutral Density filters are dark filters and are designed to reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor of your camera in order to increase exposure times, without affecting the color of the image.

There are many different manufacturers, and if you decide to get one, make sure you don’t get a cheap one. This filters usually start from light and go to really dark. They reduce your F-stop by 1 stop, 2 stops, etc. etc.

I like to use a 10 stop filter. This is a very dark filter, it reduces light by ten stops. You have to set up your shot before you attach your filter. Here is a video I made on how to use these filters.

This is the filter I use for all my daytime long exposures. 77mm 3.0 ND MRC 110M Filter, Every photo here has been shot with this exact filter, and I could not be happier.

Long Exposures Using ND Filters

So when do you use these filters? I like to use them when the weather is crazy, usually when the clouds are visibly moving really fast and the colors are vibrant. During sunrise and right after sunset is usually a good time.

You can use these filters in the day time that’s how you get the crazy movement of the clouds. Below are a few examples of how I use these filters. All these photos are shot in bulb mode and are from 1-3 minute exposures.

Have you ever used one?

The sun rises over Miami Beach painting the sky orange

Long exposures using nd filters using nd filters to blur out the clouds

LOng exposure tutorial using an ND filter

Long exposures using nd filters

Long exposures using nd filters nd filter tutorial

Long exposures using nd filters

How to blur the clouds with filters

Long exposures using nd filters

Long exposures using nd filters

Long exposures using nd filters

  • Do you use GND or only ND filter?

  • Bob says:

    Where did you get that mini tripod that you posted on YouTube today for you Key West long exposure tutorial?

  • Castillo Norman says:

    Hi Eden, great work and piks. I also live in Miami and i am starting to do some photograpy myself experimenting with a 10 stop filter. My question is weere i am confused at, why would you need bulb mode, if i use lets say a 1/125 exposure and then put a filter of 10 stop that exposure will be 8 seconds. Do i have to set my setting to 8 seconds with the filter or do i leave it at 1/125 (Shutter)

  • edin chavez says:

    Bulb mode is only for exposures longer then 30 seconds, anything below that are just your normal settings. Just make sure your exposure is set correctly or you will get a black image.

    • Castillo Norman says:

      correct and thanks for the reply, i do understand bulb mode is for longer than 30 sec. My question is with the nd filter at 10 stops, my maximum shutter equivalent to 30 seconds or less would be 1/30th of shutter. meaning if i would want 1/25 that is at 40 seconds equivalent meaning i would need bulb mode. Also can i get those blurry effect with less than 30 seconds.

  • edin chavez says:

    Yes, you can get the blurry effect in less then 30 seconds, however the longer the better. I found the sweet spot for me is from 2-3 minutes. Its just personal preference :)

  • […] Smathers Beach. This is a really nice beach to play in the water or get some cool daytime long exposures. The best time to shoot is at any […]