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I went out yesterday to try my hand at some long, daylight exposures for the first time. There are rules for just about every type of photography, and for this type the one thing that I always read is, "Frame your photo, set your focus and get an exposure reading with the ND filter off, then put the filter on, adjust your shutter speed appropriately and take your picture." While this may be optimal, with a screw on ND400 filter that costs a decent amount, it's a bit of a PITA, and in 30 degree temps with the wind blowing, shooting over rocks and water, it could also prove a bit costly should it get dropped my a set of numb fingers - as was the case yesterday.


So, after trying it "right" once, I decided WTH and went off the plan. What I did was not only easier, but I found it saved time and effort on each shot. Using LiveView, and its unique quirks, I found that I could do just about everything I wanted to do without ever having to take the filter off. Here's what I did.

LiveView has a bad rap for not being able to change aperture once you're in it. It displays essentially what is a represention of the metered image. So, in Manual mode, with the eyepiece covered and before switching to LiveView, I set the aperture where I wanted it (usually around f8 to f16 depending on the shot), and used the meter on the top LCD of my D800 to approximate a good exposure. Then, I opened the aperture up 2-4 clicks on the front wheel and turned on LiveView. What I got was a bright image that let me see exactly what I was shooting. I framed it the way I wanted it, used the zoom function to focus on what I wanted to focus on (in LiveView, using contrast detection AF, it is possible to autofocus in many instances as well), and turned it off. I reset the aperture as I wanted it originally, and shot.

In most cases yesterday the metering I got through the ND400 was about -1 EV from where I wanted it. So, I took the meter reading and then went 3 clicks longer on the shutter speed and voila!! No taking filters on and off, no muss, no fuss. Maybe I missed this tutorial before, but it works for me. Different situations may require you to tweak the shutter speed differently, but having to shoot once, check the Histogram, adjust and shoot again is a lot easier than screwing on and off - and you're going to be checking the Histogram anyway regardless of the method.

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How-to , Photos , Low Light & Night

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