Prepare to get your photo-geek on and see if you can keep up to this post. 😎 I just got some new toys that I’m stoked about. For the longest time I’ve wanted a variable ND filter. Neutral Density is pretty much sunglasses for your lenses and especially useful for landscape photography, especially water shots where you want a long/slow shutter speed to get those cool blurred water effects. But additionally, you can use them for flash photography and strobist work. ND filters help you kill ambient light, like in the full bright sunshine (it can bring a shutter speed down from 1/8000s to 1/250 to get full power flash sync speeds!) Or, you can use it in available light too. Here’s the scenario. The kids are ripping around the back yard being cute as usual. It’s super bright out – the old “Sunny 16” rule. With loads of sunlight everywhere, your camera lens has to stop-down to f/8, 11 or 16 to control how much light is getting into the camera as to no blow out an exposure. However, taking portraits/candids at such a small f/stop sucks. Everything is in focus and it’s not bokelicious or appealing. Say I want to get crazy and shoot at f/1.4 in full sunlight. How can I do it? It’s impossible without an ND filter. So I slapped on the Genus 2-8 Stop Variable ND and away we go! Check it out – these next 4 shots are all shot with my 50mm f/1.4 lens at 1.4 1/250 in full sun!!! 😎 It’s pure awesome and totally impossible without an ND filter.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also finally broke down and bought a C-Stand. I wish I would have bought it when I first started getting interested in flash photography. It’s basically a big-bad-heavy light stand with an extendable arm which allows you to hang a light up over someone. It’s the bomb! Plus, I got some sand bags for it and filled them with pea gravel and now, it’s super strong enough to stand up in the fiercest of Saskatchewan wind. I used it the other day to nab one of the shots of FlowerPot. It’s super secure and with all that weight in the bags, it ain’t goin’ nowheres.
Just as one last aside, take a look at the difference flash makes, especially off-camera flash. Here’s two shots of Phoebe taken right after each other. The first is natural open shade light, the second is with flash from the C-Stand setup above. It’s such a better result to me. There’s pop and contrast and great light! This is why I keep sinking money into lighting gear. If your light is right, your photos will be awesome 9 times out of 10. 🙂