All images captured in the video are shown below for your reference. All camera settings (EXIF Data) are also listed with each photo.
The key piece of equipment of this lesson is of course the neutral density filter. This is the “window tint” filter you attach to the front of your lens that essentially blocks light from getting to your camera’s sensor. As stated in the video, this is crucial for capturing a long exposure in broad daylight, which in turn makes moving objects such as people walking by disappear.
You can get “static” neutral density (ND) filters, which block a set amount of light, such as 2 stops, 8 stops, etc. The reason I like a variable neutral density filter is that not every shooting situation is the same, perhaps it’s near dusk and not high noon such as my shoot in the video above. A quality ND filter is crucial for not only sharp photos, but also to avoid strange artifacts to appear in your final photo.
The best bang for your buck filter is the K&F Concept Variable Neutral Density Filter. IMPORTANT: The product page on Amazon allows you to choose the the millimeter size of your lens. You must select the correct size for the lens you plan to use this filter on, and you can find this size printed right on the front of your lens: “XXmm”.
Of course a tripod will also be required for shooting a photo like this, as your camera must not move for a 13″ – 30″ long exposure. Below are my picks for tripod and mounting equipment.
- Manfrotto 190 Go! M-Series Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod — This is the one I use, the carbon fiber version has a significant weight reduction than it’s cheaper counterpart, the aluminum version. If you’re constantly traveling or on the go, you will definitely be thankful for the weight reduction! Also, the twist-lock leg extensions handle abuse better than the “quick-release” leg extensions found on the aluminum version.
- Manfrotto 190XPRO Aluminum 4-Section Tripod — This is mostly the same as above, but the more affordable aluminum version. If you’re not concerned about the extra weight, it’s a super solid choice, and still small enough to easily travel.
- BH-30 LR Ball Head with Full-Size Lever-Release Clamp — This is a Really Right Stuff ballhead. Although pricey, you will be forever thankful in the long run. You have to also get a camera specific “L-Plate” based on which camera body you’re using. They precisely machine a single piece of aluminum to perfectly mate with your camera body, ensuring there’s absolutely no room for movement while shooting.
Shooting with a ND filter is beautiful because getting a great end result requires little to no editing, the magic people disappearing act happens right in camera. Of course in this video I decided to be a little extra and even light the subject car, since we got a clean baseplate to work with, but this is a personal preference.
The biggest aspect of editing a natural lit photo comes down to color grading, and this is of course a crucial part of all photo editing. On LiveClass Commune I teach an in-depth 3 hour editing class specifically on this subject “Advanced Color Grading” .If you’re new to color grading, or even experienced and looking for new techniques, I highly suggest taking this course!