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Long Exposure Photography with a 10 Stop ND

Long exposure photography is extremely rewarding visually and involves the use of a massive array of filters and accessories. To start experimenting with extremely long exposures the following items should be added to your kit bag:

Accessories required for Long Exposure Photography

1: Neutral Density (ND) filters

ND filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera and therefore extend the exposure time required for a suitable exposure. Available in a wide range of values, the most dramatic is the 10 stop filter, available through B+W or Lee (“Big Stopper”) this filter produces very dramatic changes to everyday scenes.

2: Shutter release cable; or remote shutter release.

This accessory is vital, in particular at dusk or dawn when there is a great possibility of exposure times creeping well beyond the 30 second maximum that a camera can be set to with manual settings. When 30 seconds is not long enough it will be necessary to switch to bulb “B” mode, and lock your shutter open for the required time, which could be many minutes of exposure.

3: Viewfinder Cap

This should come with your camera. It is advisable to attach this to block unwanted light entering via the viewfinder and adding unwanted patterns to the image. Especially important in extremely long (bulb mode) exposures.

I think it goes without saying that a rock solid tripod is essential in this situation too…

Tarkine Sunset With and Without 10 stop ND filter

Tarkine Sunset With and Without 10 stop ND filter. (click to view larger)

The two images above show the dramatic difference achieved with a 10 stop ND filter. The top image is only 1/4 of a second exposure with no filter attached; and the bottom image is a 47 exposure with the 10 stop filter attached. As you can see it is not a colour filter, it literally allows for creative images through long exposure.

I have written about this topic previously – please check out these posts (Freycinet & Bay of Fires) for other examples of long exposure photography using a 10 stop ND filter.


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Luke O'Brien runs a stall at Hobart's popular Salamanca Market every Saturday where his prints and cards are available for purchase. Follow Luke's photographic adventures on Twitter at @lukeobrienphoto, at his Facebook page or by subscribing to his email newsletter.