Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Using a neutral-density filter to get a silky ocean-wave image, part of Landscape Photography: Washington's Olympic National Park.
- Here we are in the waves and what we're gonna do is get a composition where the line, the line of the wave where it crests on the beach is going to lead us to the sea stack. This takes a lot of patience and experimentation. First off, we've gotta be safe. We need to never turn our back to the ocean. Now I'm looking at the...you right now, but always be aware of the waves. Rogue waves do happen. Also understand the tides. Is the tide coming in or is it going out? So those things are going to be very helpful in keeping you safe.
Never get in a situation that you're not comfortable with. We're in very shallow water right now, the waves have not come even close to my knees, so I'm feeling comfortable right now. What we're gonna have to do is put a three stop neutral density filter on our lens, and this is why. When I shoot this scene, I'm freezing the waves, but I don't wanna freeze the waves, I want there to be streaks. I want it to have this really kind of cool incoming motion feeling and in order to do that, we need an exposure time longer than two seconds, and I'm not gonna be able to do that unless I stop down some light.
So, you'll notice on my belt, I've got my filter pouch, so that I can do this. I'm gonna go ahead and take the polarizer off. Not gonna need the polarizer for this scene. Keep an eye on the waves. When you screw on a filter, use two hands. One hand to guide it, the other hand to turn. You do not want to drop your filter in the ocean, so be very careful. Alright. Give that a nice cleaning.
We've got a three stop filter, let's take a look at what exposure times we can get. At f16, ISO 50, I can get an exposure time of about 2 seconds. So I wanna start there, and what I'm gonna do is wait for a wave to come and then I'm gonna put the camera on continuous mode and let it shoot. And it's gonna continue to shoot through the waves.
So, you just set it in motion, keep an eye on the tripod. Keep an eye on the waves. Once the waves have receded, then you can go ahead and stop and review the images. So let's take a look at what we were able to get. There is some really good stuff in there. Now I'd like to see it a little bit longer if I can, so I'm actually going to take my aperture to f22, which is gonna give me a four second exposure, and we're gonna run through the same exercise.
I'm gonna wait for the waves to come higher, here they come. Now you may be saying, f22, that's not a perfect aperture, it's not the sharpest aperture. Also diffraction can occur, which is softness in the background when you get a very small aperture. But depending on your camera model, it's almost impossible to detect. And the effect I'm going for with the waves is so crucial that if I have to use f22 to get it, I'm okay with that.
My other option, of course, is to use a five stop ND and then I can bring the aperture back to f11 or f16, and I may do that. Alright, the waves have completely receded. Let me review what I have. I've determined it's much stronger with two seconds. That's the motion that I need. So I'm gonna go back to f16, and I'm gonna wait for another series of waves to come, and I'm gonna do this until I'm happy. This is all about experimentation.
Every wave is different. Every image is different. It's really exciting. Out of all these that I'm gonna shoot, one is gonna stand out above all the rest. The little foam just circular foam in the water itself as it's moving throughout, I'm capturing that movement. The light reflecting off it, so those are what form the streaks. Alright, waves have receded. Let's take a look. I see a really good one. Not only do I have streaks coming at the camera, I have kind of a whirlpool in the background.
That's the kind of thing that I like. Now, I don't have to stand just right here. So, I'm gonna go ahead and move around a little bit, and you may wanna get a little bit into the ocean a bit, or pull back, so it's really an interesting... Just an experiment. This is your time to explore and have fun and try different things. So using the motion of the waves to create an interesting foreground leading you to the background. Alright, I'm gonna get a little closer and shoot some more.
- Defining the HIPS acronym for the shooting workflow
- Taking a serene shot of a creek
- Shooting waterfalls
- Isolating trees in a forest
- Getting a macro shot of the forest floor
- Shooting reflective pools
- Using a tilt-shift lens for a panorama
- Shooting fall foliage
- Comparing polarized shots