Capture Cloud movement using ND Filter

cloud movement long exposure shot

Image: A long exposure shot to capture cloud movement at Sankey Tank, Malleshwaram, Bangalore, India.

Many asked me if I had Photoshopped this image to get that cloud movement kind of effect. Some do understand that this is a long exposure shot, but they still have a doubt as to how I had captured a long exposure shot during day time when there is still sunlight. A long exposure shot during the daytime without ND filter will overexpose (or blowout) the image. If you are still wondering how I had captured this image then my answer would be – yes, this is a long exposure shot (with ND filter) and no Photoshop.

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I always try to get everything done in the camera by changing settings in manual mode and capturing in RAW format. About Photoshop, it’s high time that I learn some basic editing using Photoshop in addition to what I do currently using Lightroom or other editing software (as of this writing). I just go mad by looking at all the icons and features that Photoshop offers and don’t get time to learn. It’s always good to get most of the things right in the camera than modifying later using some photo editing tool. Let me explain about how I captured this shot.

Camera gear used: Nikon D600, Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens, Manfrotto tripod with 3-way head, wireless trigger, Haida 10 stop square type 150* 150 ND filter, Haida filter holder for Nikon 14-24mm.

Camera settings used: 15mm, ISO 200, f/9, 30 sec exposure, Auto Focus – OFF, Manual Mode, 10 stop ND filter.

With a filter like Haida’s 10 stop ND filter, a perfect dark piece of glass which hardly allows any light, there is no wNikonay for the camera to focus on its own. So, focus on the subject before placing the filter in front of the camera. Take a test shot and check the image for composition. Once this is done, switch off the autofocus in your camera and lens. Change the settings so that you can capture long exposure shot with the 10 stop ND filter in front of your camera. Place the filter and use a cable release or a wireless trigger to capture the image. The long exposure of 30 secs is enough to get an image of this kind where you get to see the cloud movement. Using a filter like Haida/ Lee’s 10 stop ND filter will help you in blocking light and a long exposure shot of this kind will allow your camera to see through the dark piece of glass. Also, you can see that there is hardly anything visible when it comes to water movement. To get even better cloud movement effect, use bulb mode with even more exposure and a bit of change in settings. Capture the image in RAW format so that you will have all the colors while editing and remove any tint caused by filters.

10 stop ND filters play an important role in landscape photography, but these filters can add a bit of a tint to your image. Always, use high-quality filters else it might spoil your image. This can be later corrected while post processing. Hope the above information was useful. If so, then don’t forget to share the blog post with your friends and also to follow me on social media for more updates.