Long-Exposure Photos with ND Filters Made Easy (VIDEO)

Have you ever marveled at landscape photos shot with long exposures and ND filters, and said to yourself “This is too complicated for me?” The quick video below will correct this misconception and explain how easy this is to accomplish using a few basic tips.

David Johnston is an accomplished landscape photographer and an adept instructor who specializes in tutorials that simplify seemingly complicated tasks, and this episode is a perfect example. In barely five minutes he describes how to use ND filters, the best conditions for this type of shooting and much more.

The appeal of shooting with slow shutter speeds is you can create an ethereal sense of motion, with soft flowing water and cotton-like clouds. The challenge occurs when high light levels preclude long exposures, and that’s where ND filters open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Johnston discusses how to avoid potential mistakes, and he begins by explaining why a moving subject is necessary for effective long-exposure images.  As he puts it, if you take a photo without movement, like his example of a barn against a plain blue sky, “You’re not going to get anything different than you would if you just took a normal one-click shot.”

What you’re looking for when using long exposures is a scene with obvious movement to add a dynamic element that will result in an image far more interesting than a conventional shot. By doing this, “your photos will take on a whole new life.”

Johnston covers a lot of ground in just five minutes, so you may want to take a few notes. He discusses the easiest way to use ND filters, important exposure and other camera settings, challenges and fixes for this type of shooting, and how to use manual focus with an ND filter on your lens.

There’s much more to learn on Johnston’s instruction YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look.

We also recommend a tutorial we posted earlier from another accomplished pro, explaining what he says are the key elements of great wildlife and nature photos.