Our recent traverse of the Freycinet Peninsula Circuit hike concluded with a spectacular sunset over Hazards beach. From late afternoon a dark grey line of cloud parked itself a nice distance above the horizon, and some very striking highlights were present. As the afternoon wore on and the sun sunk closer to the horizon these highlights turned a very moody yellowy-orange. The cloud wasn’t particularly fast moving and I decided to give my newly acquired B+W 10 stop ND filters a test-run.
ND (or Neutral Density) filters can have stunning results in landscape photography. The way they work is to reduce the amount of light entering the camera, making for longer exposures than can usually be obtained. The 10-stop ND filter provides quite an extreme stopping of light, and the filter itself is almost completely black. This means you need to compose and focus prior to attaching the filter, but the results can be quite stunning. The image below shows the difference of attaching a filter such as the B&W 77mm #110 3.0 (1000x) Neutral Density Glass Filter.
The filter is not a coloured filter. These filters are literally a creative accessory to landscape photography. The main purpose of ND filters is to reduce the amount of light entering into the sensor. Anytime you have movement in your subject you could consider attaching one of these to see the results. Clouds become long, smooth waves in the sky; and the ocean becomes a completely smooth surface. Even in the middle of the day it will become possible to capture water moving on fountains or waterfalls for that dreamy, milky effect. You may have noticed from the comparison above that the extremely long exposures required will mean a tripod and shutter release cable or remote are essential accessories.