Rodney Campbell's Blog

The BigStopper Diaries…

by on Jun.19, 2011, under Life, Photography

I’d purchased the B+W ND 3.0 (1000x) 10-Stop ND filter some time ago but I hadn’t gone out and shot any images with the specific intention of using the effect of the filter. I have been out shooting other things and then whipped out the bigstopper for a few shots but I hadn’t until now made a conscious plan to go out with the intention of composing and using the filter in mind.

The 10 stop ND filter basically looks like a piece of black glass and the practical upshot of this is that it evenly reduces the amount of light coming through the lens into the camera to one – one thousandth of the original light (so very very dark). So why would you want to essentially turn day into night you may ask… well what this allows you to do is take very long exposures (tens or even hundreds of seconds in this case) during daylight hours which is normally not the case. This has a very specific effect on certain things – like clouds which are moving turn to smears across the sky and moving water turns to a milky white fog and objects which might move in the frame (like walking people) simply disappear.

So over the long weekend I waited for the opportunity to arise. I had a specific location in mind (Bradley’s Head) which is a headland protruding from the north shore of Sydney Harbour (near Taronga Zoo). I was hoping for a large expanse of moving water, overcast skies and not too bright conditions so I could use really long exposures, windy conditions leading to moving cloud formations and ideally something like fog or mist over the city on the other side of the harbour (the last perhaps too much to ask for :)).

I got a bit of a break in the weather late one day and I ventured out to take some long exposures. This was also an ideal time to use my new $20 remote LCD timer which worked a treat allowing me to dial in specific timed exposures without having to manually monitor things.

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay gallery viewer.

Stones in the Mist

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 135 sec at f/16, ISO 100 + ND3.0

Road to Sydney

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm, 180 sec at f/16, ISO 100 + ND3.0


NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 27 mm, 150 sec at f/16, ISO 100 + ND3.0

This last exposure I’ve left in colour, taken just as the sun was setting. This was one of the longest exposures (at 300 seconds) and I used the trusty moving hand grad (for about two minutes of the exposure) to tone down the sky a little so it wouldn’t blow out.

Long Sunset

NIKON D7000 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 300 sec at f/13, ISO 100 + ND3.0

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