Using a Neutral Density filter for beautiful Disney Photos!
Hey gang! For today’s post, I’d like to show how you can use a Neutral Density (ND for short) filter for something other than fireworks at Walt Disney World or Disneyland!
One of my favorite things to do when in the parks is shoot at really big apertures to create beautiful bokeh and shallow depth of field in my images. I have a tendency to get a little trigger happy between f/2 and f/1.4! In my eyes, a portrait of something in the parks with a creamy, buttery, smooth background is just as good as the grand landscapes we love to shoot. But, there is an issue with our cameras when we try to do this during the day. Fast lenses are wonderful for dark rides and when the light outside starts to get low. But, when the sun is out and bright, shooting at f/1.4 can become a problem, since many cameras have a fastest shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second, and in more professional cameras, 1/8000 of a second. What this means is that there is so much light available that the camera wants to expose using a faster shutter than those numbers, but it can’t. So the result is often something that is very overexposed and ugly. Thankfully, there is a quick little trick that we can use. It happens to be one of our go-to tools for shooting fireworks, the ND filter. The Neutral Density filter simply acts like a pair of sunglasses for your lens, and forces the camera to see the light differently and call for a slower shutter speed, making it possible to swirl out the backgrounds and make the shot you want to capture.
But, all those words and no examples means nothing, so here are a few photographs from a morning/afternoon I spent last week at Epcot. All of these shots were taken between f/1.4 and f/2 with the Canon 5D Mark II with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens attached, with a .6 ND filter attached to the lens. The light was very bright that day, and all of these shots would have called for at least 1/8000 of a second for a shutter speed, so the ND was a must. Here we go!
Pluto hammin’ it up at World Showcase Promenade
Year of the Dragon in China
Beautiful flowers near the fountains in the France pavilion
The amazing flower bed by Journey Into Imagination
Seating area for Tangierine Cafe
Sleeping Beauty topiary between the UK and France pavilions
So there you have it! A pretty worthwhile use of an ND filter that doesn’t involve huge colorful explosions in the sky! A word of warning though, if you purchase an ND filter, buying a cheap one will more than likely end up making your image quality suffer. Cheap glass going over your nice and well built glass is a no-no! I personally use Tiffen ND filters, both the .6 and .9 depending on the shot. They are a great quality filter and the cost is reasonable. You can purchase them from Amazon by using our Disney Photography Blog link which in return helps us :) The link goes to the main Tiffen search results page because you will need to purchase the filter size that fits your particular lens.
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