Photographers change reality. Although we essentially record what we see with a camera, we always add our two cents to an image. This is done with the choices we make. Some are done before we click the shutter, like the subject we choose, the camera angle and composition. Some are done afterwards, like converting an image to black and white or cropping it.
A neutral density filter is a handy photographer’s tool that changes reality by bending time. These filters limit the amount of light going into the camera. This allows a photographer to use a longer camera exposure, which essentially condenses a period of time into a single moment.
Those beautiful photographs of silky waterfalls are usually created with neutral density filters. The camera’s shutter is open for up to a couple of seconds so the moving water blurs beautifully while the surrounding landscape remains sharp. This is one example of bending time with photography.
This photograph of a beaver dam along the Mullica River was taken on a very windy day using a super neutral density filter called a “Big Stopper.” The filter seriously limits the light going through the lens allowing for very long exposures, even in bright sunlight. This image shows what happened during the two minutes that the camera’s shutter was open. The flow of water and the movement of the plant life swaying in the wind are blended together into a single moment. The result shows how time was bent into a surreal impression of the this scene.
Bending time is just one way that photography changes reality into art. Enjoy.
Thank you Jennie
Nice. This poem talks to that sense of time. River Bending
We are not here
long enough to watch the river
change her shape.
But she does.
I have felt it. We can see her
swell and dry,
but we do not get
to see her curl and
cut and grow old.
She is an old thing.
She goes back
We cannot see
all the changes,
but we can feel them.
They are in there.
Sent from my iPhone
Thanks for that beauty in words, Tom. When I stand by a river or any flowing water I get this feeling of timelessness that is so amazing. One realizes of that this water has been flowing for thousands of years and will continue to do so for a thousand more. It inspires and sustains all life around it. Great stuff!
Nice info here… surprised at how long your exposure was…. must be a very dark filter. I have used a Singh Ray 5 stop. When I first started I didn’t realize to compose and focus before putting it on…. should probably have talked to you first…. 🙂
It took me a while to realize that you need set the shot up then add the filter too Mike. The big stopper is a 10 stop neutral density filter. It is so dark you cannot see anything when it is on the camera.
Nice image! I have a 10 stop filter too and it’s my favorite gadget. In broad daylight, I can still see enough in live view to focus and compose. You might try that next time.
Thanks Terry. I’ve never used it in bright sunlight. It probably would be great around moving water on a bright day.
Beautiful Rich!!! Great infomation. I also have a 10 stop filterbut have yet to use it!!!
Thanks Kathleen. It took me a while to use and get used this filter.
Interesting perspective (the written one). Like the effect of the foliage in motion along with the silky water. Begins to look like a classical landscape painting. Is that part of what we seek? I’d be happy with that.
Thanks Ralph. I’ve always found landscape painting to be more inspirational in my work than other landscape photographers.
Nice Rich! I will be talking about this in my SJCC Long Exposure Techniques workshop in January. I have a 6 stop.
Thanks Denise. These deep neutral density filters are real game changers in the right conditions. I’ll have to check out your class this January.
Nice shot and a good way to put it: bending time. I have a vari-ND but really don’t use it as much as I thought I would. I mostly just go super-low ISO and a polarizer. But I tend to deliberately choose times of low light or in the forest for long exposures.
Thanks Michael. I appreciate the comment. I rarely use an ND filter as well but find the split and variable handy when shooting with a bright sky and dark landscape. I also am a big fan of the polarizer too. It gives you more help than a ND filter alone can give.