Experimenting with Variable Neutral Density

July 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment



Melissa Southern




We have discussed quite a bit about experimenting in photography over the last few weeks, from "painting" filters in Adobe Photoshop to reprocessing older photographs with new software. I recently acquired a variable neutral density filter. This type of filter allows the photographer to select differing degrees of neutral density to add to the overall exposure which allows for longer shutter speeds in brighter light.


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Circular Polarizer Filter - longest exposure possible Variable ND Filter - longest exposure that I could get to work right


I had a few strange outcomes and obviously need some more practice. I got a few weird dark spots and had to adjust the filter some to eliminate them. I am not sure if this is due to the angle of the sun. Circular Polarizers have a sweet spot in relation to the sun where they are most effective. I wonder if the same is true of variable neutral density filters. I have not done any research. I probably should have done that before heading out to shoot. Of course, some lessons are best learned the hard way, and experimenting is fun! Here are a few of those experiments that did not work out so well. As you can see, there is almost always a learning curve anytime that you use a new gadget or technique. Trial and error are often the best teachers in these situations. 


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I did get a few shots that I really like, and I learned a few things. 

  • It is best to use the variable neutral density filter on overcast days that way you can get really long exposures and the lighting is even.
  • I need to practice using this filter a whole lot more.
  • I really should not walk 2 miles on sand barefoot. I got blisters on 4 toes before I got back, and the sand was really hot unless I was on the wet sand.


Happy Shooting to all of you!


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