How to Take a Long Exposure During the Day Using an ND Filter

Introduction: How to Take a Long Exposure During the Day Using an ND Filter

Everyone knows that you can take long exposures during the night to capture light trails, star trails, maybe a fire or some sort. What some of us don't know is that you can also do the same thing during the day. Now I know your probably thinking, "well theres a lot of light, how are you supposed to have a correctly exposed image?"...or something along those lines..

The photo world has a common accessory thats called a Neutral Density Filter (ND) that allows you to reduce the amount of light flooding into your camera. These ND filters can range from 1 stop to 10 stops, 10 being the darkest. Once these ND filters are on your lens, you can take longer exposures to capture the movement of light within your given scene. This instructable utilizes a 10 stop ND Filter offered through LEE Filters.

Now for the good stuff....

For this you will need

  • DSLR camera with a manual mode
  • Tripod
  • ND Filter

1. Find a composition for your picture

2. Set up tripod and camera and frame your shot

3. You will want to make sure your in manual focus for this which means make sure your lens is focused on your subject.

4. After making 100% sure your frame is set and focused, attach the ND Filter

  • For this step, it might be a little different depending on your ND filter. Some are screw on while others slide into an attachment, such as mine. Either work well
  • For the LEE Filter specifically, attach your given ring to your lens and then hook the bracket around the ring. Be sure that it is snug and secure. Then take your Big Stopper ND filter and slide it in the closest bracket towards the lens, if this is not done right you will have light flooding into the camera.

5. Now, its time for the settings. Some do this before they put the ND filter on to make a decision off a correctly exposed image. This process involves math and can easily be avoided.

  • With your ND filter on, set your aperture to f11. This is lees recommendation and it works well.
  • Next change your shutter speed to 10 sec and take an exposure. This will be your photo to judge from; it may be very dark or it may be very bright, but thats ok, trial and error is fun.
  • From here you will experiment with your settings given your situation and the vibes that your feeling
  • Note that during this process, you will not be able to preview your composition through your view finder, only through photo previews.

6. You have now accomplished taking an exposure during the day.

7. You can get creative and mess with motion blur such as I did in the photo. Always gives feels to your photos.

Go Create!

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'd love to see a picture of something that you used this technique on.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't even think about that! Here's a link to a perfect example and one of my personal favorites from my portfolio.