STE P BY STE P
The more, the merrier
Use one filter to balance the exposure, and another to enable a long exposure
01 Find your sea legs
As you’ll be using a slow shutter speed, you’ll need a tripod and a remote release. Screw in a filter adapter, then attach the filter holder. If you’re using a wide-angle lens, there’s a chance you’ll catch the edge of the adapter in your shot. Either zoom past it, or crop the image in editing.
02 Stay grounded
As you’ll be using an ND grad to balance out the sky, you can set your exposure for the ground. Put your camera in manual mode, select an aperture of f/22 and an ISO of 100, and then adjust the shutter speed until the exposure needle lines up with the ‘0’.
03 The first filter
Next, slide your weakest grad into the slot that’s nearest the lens, with the dark end at the top, and slide it down until the transition from dark to clear just kisses the horizon – if it’s too high or too low it will be obvious in the final image. Take a test shot and check your histogram.
04 Two’s company…
If the graph fits nicely within the histogram you won’t need to attach a second ND grad, but if it’s stacked towards the right-hand side, you’ll need a second filter to darken the sky even further, until the graph isn’t cut off or ‘clipped’ on the right.
05 …Three’s a wow
Once the ND grads have ensured a balanced exposure, it’s time to add a full ND to enable a longer shutter speed. A one-stop ND will enable you to double the exposure time, a two-stop ND will enable you to double it again, and so on.
06 The right time
Because NDs are very dark, make sure you’re happy with your composition before adding one. With the filter attached, increase the exposure time the correct number of stops (see top right), take a test shot, and adjust again if needed.