On August 2 central Texas got a normal August’s rainfall in one afternoon. We are having a very mild and wet summer for which I am very grateful and I took the opportunity to head down to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge to check out the creek which has many small waterfalls. I was counting on them being quite active from all of the storm run-off and was hoping to try out a new ND filter (NiSi 112mm Circular NC ND1000) to capture some long exposures of the moving water.
This filter is nice because it screws in to a hood for my wide angle lens and is easy to remove so that I can recompose and re-focus my image and then put it back on for the long exposure. I also expected it to be a higher quality filter with minimum color distortion and vignette. See the filter installed in the lens hood below with the cover on the left.
So, down I went to the refuge on Tuesday evening about an hour before sunset. I didn’t want the sun high in the sky because I wanted the water in shade so I would have even light. I had never photographed this portion of the stream before but I had noticed it on previous hikes, so it was my first shot at it. I had to climb down the muddy slope, remove my boots and socks and wade in the cool water to get a good position. Below is a photo of the waterfall with no filter taken at 1/800 second. As you can see, the sun is setting directly behind the water fall so I am going to get a very bright background sky through the trees. Perhaps this would be a better shot just after dawn. There is also a tree right in the middle splitting the two waterfalls that I have to work around.
I experimented with low compositions and higher compositions. I really struggle with how wide to shoot wanting to take in everything and also wanting to focus on one portion of the scene. So I moved the tripod around a lot looking for a good composition. I don’t think I was entirely successful with getting a great composition, but I did take the opportunity to evaluate the filter.
The first image below shows the before picture without the 10 stop ND filter. Camera setting are 14mm, f/5.6, 1/5s.
After setting this up, I put on the ND filter and took the picture with the same settings except for the shutter speed was changed to 30s. The calculation would give me 20 seconds, but I added half a stop as I thought that there was room for a lit more exposure. After loading into Lightroom, I adjust the exposure, white balance, saturation, etc. to get the photos as close to looking alike as I could.
I really couldn’t see much in the way of color distortion with this filter. I have had a cheaper filter that left things a little magenta I think, but this seems to be a really good filter and it should be for the price. Let me know if you can see a difference.
This filter is really easy to use and I am glad to have it. And 30 seconds of exposure really blurs that moving water if you like that sort of thing. I did try getting low and close and setting the tripod up high to catch the background water, but I wasn’t really happy with what I got. See some of the images below.
I don’t think I got amazing waterfall photos, but I enjoyed the exercise and got the change to evaluate my new filter. I have been so busy with personal issues, it was nice to get away for the evening and wade in the creek with my camera and tripod. Another great use for this filter is blurring cloud motion which I have done before with pleasing results. Perhaps I will find an opportunity to do that in the near future.
Thanks for reading.