Most people when they see the photo below say to me “wow, fantastic, how lucky were you with that streaky sky”. When in fact on this day I had regular white fluffy clouds and I was lucky I had wind (lots of it) and that I brought along my ND filters.
On a windy day the temptation is to use a faster shutter speed to “freeze” the movement of tree foliage, clouds and anything else that is flapping and drifting in the breeze. On this occasion I used a ND3.0 filter to allow me to capture all this movement, in this case the high and low altitude clouds whizzing across the sky in two different directions. You might also choose to capture trees blowing or a flag fluttering.
So what is an ND filter and what does it do? ND stands for Neutral Density, meaning it is a dark shaded filter that is neutral in colour, or just simply put… translucent grey. Like putting on a pair of sunglasses for your camera. They are commonly available in various strengths (darkness) from a 0.3 through to a 0.9 which allow you to extend your exposure by 1 to 3 f-stops. By extending your exposure time you can capture movement with easy, think flowing water for example. If you dig around a little further you’ll also find ND filters that are super dark right up to the ND3.0 which is a full 10 f-stops darker. This allows for exposures of up to 30 seconds in the middle of the day…. Awesome!
So in this situation pictured I had some gnarly rock, some recently bushfire-burnt trees (that due to no foliage weren’t moving in the wind), and lots of fast moving white clouds. With a ND3.0 filter I managed a 20 second exposure to achieve this result.