Today, we’ve got something nice for those of you who didn’t get away from the non-stop cold of the Polar Vortex™. Our good friend Jon Finkelstein – SVP Executive Creative Director at Proximity Canada – brought Lee Filters 100x100mm ND 10 Stop Big Stopper along with his Canon 5D and some otherworldly shots were the result. Take it away, Jon!
Using a 10-stop ND on my beach holiday in Punta Cana?
I’m lucky. Every year my family and I go south during march break. Yet every year, I somehow manage to capture the exact same photographs – despite the different locations.
Lots of shots of my kids frolicking on the beach. Fast shutter to capture those ocean splashes. Portraits shot wide open for maximum tropical bokeh.
This year I was determined to try something different. So I pulled out my black glass right there on the beach. Fact is, I haven’t used this 10-stop ND filter very much. Like many shooters with heavy gear acquisition syndrome (GAS, for short) I buy things I don’t always use. After seeing the results, I’m kicking myself for not using it more.
Admittedly, it’s not a cheap accessory. And, it takes practice to use. If you’re not familiar with a big stopper, the glass is so dark you can’t actually see through it. Which also means your lens’ AF can’t either. So you have to set your camera to MF and compose your shot BEFORE you screw in the filter. Then you get to experiment. Because these filters essentially block light from coming into the lens, it allows you to take long exposure shots in broad daylight without overexposing. Which is why it’s so fun to use. Open the shutter long enough and you can make the crowds on a beach disappear. You can turn a rough ocean into glass. Or in my case, create a unique family portrait that is like nothing I have ever shot before.
Black glass isn’t for every occasion. There’s much more effort to use than to NOT and you have to lug a tripod along with you. But in my opinion, it’s well worth it. Try one and see for yourself.
To Jon’s point, using a 10-stop may take some more planning/lugging, but the result is 100% worth it. Here’s a helpful guide from Lee Filters to using both Big AND Little Stoppers.