Do I NEED a ND filter for long exposures?
I haven't done a long exposure since I sold my old lenses for which I had a ND filter. When I had those old lenses and ND filters one of my first blogs was about this exact topic. I called it Capturing Movement; click to read; it explained the basics of how to blur movement using a long shutter speed plus a ND filter added and also what types of long exposure photography are out there. Now if you follow my Instagram account; you can follow here; you will see one particular long exposure from the last 6 months or so. It is of waves hitting jagged rocks on Skomer Island. It is one of the most popular pictures on my Instagram feed.
But it is not "REAL" a long exposure. They are a series of 50-100 single images taken with about a second apart and using Photoshop you can blend them together to simulate a long exposure. If you want to find out how to do this watch the video below.
When I found out about this it was great, because I didn't have to splash out on a ND filter for my much larger new lenses. The first few worked really well in fact some of the most popular on Instagram. But I quickly found myself annoyed by the sheer amount of time it took for Photoshop to process the stack of images. To get an exposure of say 30 seconds with a ND filter takes....30 seconds, good guess. To get it with Photoshop method about 5-10 minutes of capturing individual pictures and then well over an HOUR waiting for Photoshop to do its thing in processing. Maybe my computer isn't as powerful as it could be, but that is a ridiculous amount of time. Also the results are way too inconsistant. Would I rather spend the actual amount of time a long exposure should take and move on to find another nice photo or spend ages in front of my computer?
So after 6 months I came to the conclusion that YES I personally needed a ND filter after all. I bought the HOYA ProND 1000 and needed a 82mm to fit my 24-70gm lens plus a GOBE 16stop ND filter the same size. I also bought a step up ring to also use the same filter on my 70-200mm which only has a 72mm diameter rather than spend even more on a whole new set of filters.
Here are a couple of my favorite shots I have captured so far with the new ND filters on.