ND filters for long exposure.

Long exposure photography is one of my favorite types of photography. Night photography is visually captivating and offers plenty of opportunities to create wonderful and amazing images after the sun has long since set.

Long exposure can be used in the daylight to create interesting and beautiful photography. With the help of an ND “Neutral Density” filter, we can achieve long exposures during the day.

ISO 100 F14 90-second exposure with a 10 stop High Tech filter using the square mount system.

Neutral Density Filters.

With an ND filter, we can enjoy longer exposures in our photography even during the light of day. With your cameras ISO aperture and shutter speed along with utilizing an ND filter, we can bring the creativity of motion and movement into our images where plenty of natural light exists.

ISO 100 F18 60 second exposure with a 10 stop Benro Circular ND Filter

There are many brands of ND filters to choose from. Using a bargain filter will require some post processing to remove the color cast that is created by it. The more expensive brands like Lee and a few others on the market will require little to no processing to remove color casting.

Hi-Tech wide angle holder with 10 stop

The square format filters require a filter holder to use but you have much more flexibility with being able to utilize graduated ND filters for your landscape images.

10 stop circular ND

Circular ND filters are easy to use options. Simply screw it on to your lens. I always have my Benro circular 10 stop ND filter with me even if I have left behind my square mount system.


The image below is a good example of why it is a good idea to have one in your bag.

ISO 100 F16 30 second exposure with a 10 stop Benro Circular ND Filter

If you have ever wanted to try this for yourself do keep in mind that you will need a tripod.  Your cameras timer can be used to trigger your shot or you can use a cable or wireless release.

Once you have set the camera up on a tripod and have settled on a composition, you should obtain your focus before you apply the filter to the lens of your camera. Personally, I set focus using my camera’s auto focus and then after acquiring focus switch from auto setting to manual on my lens. Then I apply my filter to the lens of my camera.

If you have a smart phone you can download free apps that will convert the shutter speed value that you get when metering with out the filter and translate that time into the seconds you would need to use after adding your ND filter.

ISO 100 F16 1/4 of a second. .09 graduated filter
VU Square mount system

Another use of filters for landscape photography is a graduated ND filter. Only half the filter is darkened. It can cut the light down in either the bottom of our image or the top. The photo above had a 0.9 graduated ND filter to help expose the sky in the photo. That 0.9 is equal to 3 stops of light.

With out the filter, I would have to expose the image above for the sky and then the sunflowers and blend the 2 images in photoshop.

The long exposure will continue to be one of my favorite styles of photography. The creative possibilities are endless.


Have a great day and as always any questions or comments are always welcome. Happy photographing and have fun and remember don’t just take photos, make photos!

Ron Phillips

7 responses to “ND filters for long exposure.”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information on ND filters. Would love to see a class on these filters and polarizer with a follow-up walk on using both these types of filters


  2. I purchased a six-stop nd filter before I knew what to do with it!
    All the talk I’ve heard is about a ten-stop nd filter.
    Will I be able to use this filter with any success or will it remain in ” the attic” of my camera bag as a mistaken purchase?


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