Advantages Of A Quality Neutral Density Filter
Recently I was lucky enough to make a trip to the coastline of California and more specifically Big Sur. Anytime I am shooting ocean landscapes, filters becomes a big part of the mood I am trying to recreate. I am a big fan of Singh-Ray filters for many reasons but my favorite filter is the 5-Stop Mor-Slo ND filter. One of my favorite things to do when I am shooting oceans is to create mood by shooting longer exposures. Just by using this filter you have to the ability to completely change the direction of the image. For example, I normally would shoot an image at around half-second or faster to stop the action of the wave. This gives the appearance of a fast moving explosive image that draws the viewer into the image. This type of image usually is filled with powerful explosiveness that really holds a lot of tension. But with the 5-stop Mor-Slo ND filter I have the ability to change the expectations of the viewer and create a thought-provoking image that instills a sense of calmness to the image. There is nothing wrong with a fast-action image but it is also nice to sometimes go in an unexpected direction in terms of mood. In today’s market of digital photography, many professional photographers need to be able to show similar results in their RAW images to publishers and editors. The need for the scene to be as close as possible to how the scene was originally captured is of vital importance for magazines and books.
The 5-Stop Mor-Slo is really unique from other ND filters that I have tried in the past. Other ND filters come with a colorcast that can be difficult to remove in post processing without removing other colors. One of the techniques I am fond of using with ND filters is to use them when the sun is still visible along the horizon. The appearance of a long exposure with the sun still present is very deceptive to the eye when used correctly in an image. In situations like this I will stack two 5-Stop Mor-Slo ND filters to get even a longer exposure. With the sun visibly present I can get more then a 30-second exposure, which can really look unique with the last light hitting elements in the foreground. The reason I stress the uniqueness of this is that once you get over 5-Stop ND filters with other brand names you get inconsistent results that never work with the sun present. What often happens with other brand names when it comes to ND filters is banding of black strips across the image, color casts across the image, and most importantly uneven exposures across the image. The higher the number in terms of ND filter the less consistent the results. With Singh-Ray I can use either a 5-Stop Mor-Slo or two stacked together and still get the same consistent results. The images are clean with no color casts. This is important because in post processing you can remove color casts but it also removes color you don’t want removed. Colors like the warm last light in an image that you are trying to capture gets mixed in with a brown color cast which is almost impossible to separate. The results are spot on in terms of exposure and lack any of the spotting you often find with other ND filters. If you are going to stack the 5-Stop Mor-Slo ND filters it is important that you get the ones that are threaded in the front so they can be mounted together. I am often asked the difference between the Singh-Ray 5-Stop Mor-Slo ND filter and the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter. You can use the 5-Stop Mor-Slo for scenes that need a wide-angle lens without vignetting. The filters are thin enough that you can stack two of them together and still get fairly wide scenes without signs of the lens in the image. So, when it comes it finding a filter to use when shooting long exposures and you need clean exposures, nothing gets results like the Singh-Ray 5-Stop Mor-Slo ND filter.