The purpose for this shoot was to find a relative nearby location to start using the drop-in filter system recently purchased. I remembered having issues highlights being blown out on a previous shoot here. Even late in the day an area of granite is lit by the sun right next to a stream of water flowing in a crevice causing either overexposed light areas or underexposed dark areas (depending on where I metered the shot). Of course, there is the option of bracketing images with various exposures and working the images in post-processing. Yet I wanted to get the shot right in-camera, so this was an opportunity to try out the new filters. While it would be much more appropriate to use a hard-edge neutral density, I have soft-edge ones more suitable for landscapes where the delineation between light and dark is jagged (think mountains) rather than straight (ocean/horizon). Soft edge will still work, just not as precise as hard-edged in this instance.
Well, there is a problem – beside the hard vs. soft edge filters. First, I am not experienced using drop-in filters. I am used to and have success with screw-in filters where I compose and focus the composition, hold the front end of the lens still, and carefully screw on the filter. The only problem is if I want to recompose, I need to unscrew the filter, recompose, and repeat. Plus, if I buy new lenses with a different thread size from what I currently have, I just have to buy a $15 adapter for the filter system instead of new c-pol and GND screw-in filters. With a drop-in filter, I can slide the filter up, recompose, slide it back down, and resume shooting. Sounds simple, right? Somehow, each time I slide one or more filters in or out of place, I am losing focus. Images come out unfocused and it is a bit frustrating. So instead of fiddling around with the new filter system anymore, in this case to blur the water, I decided to use the old method of stopping down the aperture from something around f/8 to f/16. To compensate for less light entering the camera, I would need to increase the exposure time – enough to blur the water just enough.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, ISO100, 32mm, f/16, 0.4 sec
Crystal Basin (CA), Water Over Granite, Sapling. Bassi Falls, El Dorado National Forest, CA. May 13, 2017. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.