Using a 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter to add Drama to the Sky

How to Use a 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter to add Drama to the Sky


In this Adorama video Bryan Peterson shows you how he uses a 10 stop neutral density filter to take an image from average, to dynamic. The filter basically just blocks light allowing you to make longer exposures. In this city skyline shot it changes how the clouds appear in the final image.

Filter mentioned in the video:

Other dPS articles about using ND filters:

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Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles on her site Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

  • My last long exposure with ND 1000

  • Awesome, the one I commented on through Flickr! I just bought a ND 10, used it for a variety of waterfall and cloud shoots recently, I really love it:

  • Excellent!

  • DebinKC


  • Nice video, I love how the end result looks like.

    But is this filter always taking 10 stops down? What if, for example, I only want 4 stops ? Or should I catch that with my camera settings ?

  • Jonny Costa

    for that shot the clouds became the suck having that much sky in the image made the sky the subject not the city and blurring it just ruined the composition…all it looks like is extended exposure with bad comp…my opinion.

  • Jonny Costa

    thats why most people use a square filter system and a drape, filters are incredibly cheaper and you can stack or unstack with out blowing composition.

  • Emerson Novais Lopes

    Fantastic shot! Congratulations!

  • Emerson Novais Lopes

    This is so beautiful! My compliments!

  • Mark

    I’ve seen other videos that use long exposures and neutral density filters, in which they cover the viewfinder to prevent light leaking to the sensor. Is this actually necessary?

  • Dale Mccormick

    yes it is necessary as light leaking in through the viewfinder will illuminate the inside of the camera and can drastically reduce the contrast of the image being taken and ruin the shot

  • sticklegs

    A very long exposure, middle of there day, with the Lee Big Stopper. Love working with that filter.

  • Rita3888

    I agree, I prefer the sharper clouds. I bought a filter, but haven’t had chance to use it yet, so I’ll see what difference it makes sometime.

  • Jay Brass

    Love your shot and I know exactly where you were, but I cropped out the walkway at the top. Beautiful place.

  • Dr.Bob

    No it’s not, unless your camera is poorly designed. In an normal camera the mirror will flip-up covering the internals of the viewfinder. The mirror slams into neoprene or some other foam or rubber to prevent it from breaking, but that also prevents light from leaking passed the mirror into the rest of the camera.

    You only need to cover the viewfinder when you are metering.

  • Nice shot, I was trying to leave a little room at the top, but also get the entire froth at the bottom or I probably would have cropped the walkway too. It is a really beautiful site to shoot in. I also took one of Bridal Veil Falls that I really like:

  • Bob Bevan Smith

    ND filters come in many grades – typically 2, 4, 8, 10 stops. Each has its own application, depending on the length of exposure you want. If you want a slower shutter speed in bright daylight, the higher numbers give longer exposure times. You can achieve the same effect (to an extent, depending on the brightness of the ambient light) by reducing ISO, and using a narrow aperture (f22?) to extend the shutter opening time. But if you want to use a wide aperture (f1.8?) in broad daylight, then a ND filter is the way to go.

  • B.L. Blazy

    Would be more dynamic when clouds are moving from foreground to background rather than side to side.

  • B.L. Blazy

    Even more impact when clouds are moving toward the subject!

  • ND 10 Snowdonia Wales

  • Marc Smedz

    I agree. Not the best example of a long expo using filter

  • JJ Dunlap

    This is the last one I did a couple years ago. I forgot how fun they can be.

  • Excellent shot Adrian.
    I’ve been meaning to go to Snowdonia for ages now. Such a beautiful place.

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