A gray filter or ND filter is a tool of photography to work among other things even in very bright lighting conditions with long exposure times.Simplified, you have to imagine a gray filter as a dark glass pane, which you screw in front of his lens. In trade, there are different strengths in terms of opacity. The stronger the opacity, the longer you can expose. Many manufacturers offer gray filters in different quality and price classes. Since it often comes to a color distortion in photos with gray filters, which can be easily removed in the editing software of your confidence again, you should not quite reach for the cheapest product.
I personally have a HAIDA PRO II MC ND 3.0 1000x. This leaves only 0.1% of the light on your sensor. If you would shoot normally with this filter all pictures would be black. You have to increase the exposure time by a factor of 1000 to get “normal” pictures again. A tripod with remote release is therefore indispensable. Since the exposure time is very long, interesting effects are created on the photos.
For example, moving people disappear and you can photograph “deserted” places. This looks very good in cities or train stations and saves a lot of post-processing at home. You can also take impressive pictures at the sea (moving water), a mountain stream or similar. The water then looks like a silk scarf. At the sea a mystical atmosphere arises.
Yesterday I finally managed to test my gray filter. I had bought it over a year ago. To do this, I drove in the wider area to find a suitable motif. Unfortunately, it was too far to the next mountain stream and the sea was ruled out for distance reasons. What remains one therefore if one lives in Leipzig. Wind turbines, there are plenty of them and sometimes they are active.
They are definitely not the perfect demonstration motif, but you can see very well on the following slider the effect. If you photograph such a wind turbine with a normal camera in automatic mode or with a cell phone, the rotors appear rigid and any dynamic and movement is missing from the picture. To convey the rotation to the viewer, you have to expose longer. However, in the middle of the day, this usually results in a merciless overexposure and the photo is just white. That’s why we use the gray filter.
Thanks to ND filters, it is possible to use slow shutter speeds even during the day without having to accept overexposure.
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