The benefits of an ND filter
A neutral density (ND) filter can dramatically change the mood of a waterscape. They darken the entire frame, enabling you to set much longer exposures. I used the LEE Big Stopper here, which darkened my shot by ten stops. For this shot, this meant my shutter speed changed from 1/13 sec at f/9 (ISO500) to 30 seconds at f/9. You can see how it dramatically transforms the shot from a standard snap that could’ve been taken on AUTO mode, to a moody lakescape. The water and sky, both now lacking in definition, allow the three dead trees to take centre stage, and the trees’ reflections, while still undefined, are more prominent in the second image.
I used an ND filter to create that mood and enhance the scene, but don’t be fooled. Simply shoving an ND filter onto your lens for all of your shots just to blur something won’t automatically make the shot better. The scene has to warrant its use (see page 50 for more on using ND filters).