Flash photography and using an ND filter

Started May 12, 2013 | Discussions
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Richard Cooper Senior Member • Posts: 1,540
Flash photography and using an ND filter

There are many articles on using a flash for both indoor and outdoor photography with an ND filter.

But what I find missing are the beginning steps.

For example, shooting in manual set the desired aperture and see what the camera meters for shutter speed using the lowest ISO setting.

Determine at what shutter speed you want and then select the ND filter.

OR

Mount the ND filter, set your desired aperture, ISO and then lower your shutter speed. Take a test shot and adjust your shutter accordingly.

Or is their a specific tutorial on what comes first? Meter reading without ND filter or just mount ND filter and take some test shots and then adjust your shutter?
Thanks

Richard

Hugowolf Forum Pro • Posts: 12,515
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

Why do you want to use an ND filter? What effect are you trying to achieve?

Brian A

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Veteran Member • Posts: 9,065
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Outdoors and sometimes indoors the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure.  If you do this you would want to figure out what lighting ratio you need at the desired aperture and then figure out what ND filter you would need to achieve the appropriate ambient light level and how much flash power is needed to achieve the ratio.

Indoors the power of the studio strobe can't be reduced enough to allow the use of wide apertures for a narrow depth-of-field.  Place extra layers of diffusion material on the front of the diffuser to reduce the light output instead of adding a ND filter.  Of course this presumes you are using softboxes or umbrellas with black backings so stray light isn't a big problem.

Note that focusing with strong ND filters can be a problem.  In this case you need to lock the focus before adding the ND filter.  Since adding a filter can slightly shift the focus you should use a wide enough depth-of-field to prevent the subject from going out of focus.

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dad_of_four Veteran Member • Posts: 7,743
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter
1

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.  Be careful of ghosting in these conditions

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Hugowolf Forum Pro • Posts: 12,515
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.  Be careful of ghosting in these conditions

Well, there are a couple or three reasons why one might want to use an ND filter for flash, but without a reply from the OP, who knows?

Brian A

Fave Photog Senior Member • Posts: 1,241
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

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drh681
drh681 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,711
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

Fave Photog wrote:

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

Uh... a neutral density filter would reduce the over all exposure not just the ambient.

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Hugowolf Forum Pro • Posts: 12,515
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

drh681 wrote:

Fave Photog wrote:

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

Uh... a neutral density filter would reduce the over all exposure not just the ambient.

Oh poor thing, but there is lttle one can do about the ambient light, whereas one can often turn up the flash - that is the point.

Brian A

drh681
drh681 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,711
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

Hugowolf wrote:

drh681 wrote:

Fave Photog wrote:

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

Uh... a neutral density filter would reduce the over all exposure not just the ambient.

Oh poor thing, but there is lttle one can do about the ambient light, whereas one can often turn up the flash - that is the point.

don't patronize me, discuss why that would even be desirable.

The only reason I could see is to use a larger aperture than the lowest flash output would permit.

Even for that, you could back off the flash distance to the subject.

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michaeladawson Veteran Member • Posts: 9,254
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

drh681 wrote:

Hugowolf wrote:

drh681 wrote:

Fave Photog wrote:

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

Uh... a neutral density filter would reduce the over all exposure not just the ambient.

Oh poor thing, but there is lttle one can do about the ambient light, whereas one can often turn up the flash - that is the point.

don't patronize me, discuss why that would even be desirable.

The only reason I could see is to use a larger aperture than the lowest flash output would permit.

I'm not sure what you mean by that.  Basically though, if you're shooting outdoors in sun and you want to use flash at wide aperture you are going to have problems.  Due to sync speed you are going to be limited to around f/9 or f/10 at ISO 100.  If you want to shoot at f/4 or f/5.6 you are going to have to use an ND filter.

My apologies if that is what you were trying to say.

Even for that, you could back off the flash distance to the subject.

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Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Veteran Member • Posts: 9,065
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

drh681 wrote:

Fave Photog wrote:

dad_of_four wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

The only reasons I can see for using a ND filter with flash are:

Shooting outdoors in bright conditions, and being constrained by the x-Synch speed of your camera and your desired aperture.

That's what Sailor Blue said:

"Outdoors...the ND filter is used to reduce the ambient light exposure."

Uh... a neutral density filter would reduce the over all exposure not just the ambient.

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If you use flash from a hot-shoe flash or a studio strobe then you are making two exposures.  One exposure is an ambient light exposure.  One exposure is a flash exposure, or if outdoors it is a combination of ambient and flash.

In a studio the ambient light exposure is usually much lower than the flash exposure so it can be neglected.  The problem in the studio is usually too much strobe power even at the lowest settings, and this is when you start adding extra layers of diffuser material to the light sources to reduce their intensity.

Using flash restricts your shutter speed to a maximum of the sync speed.  If you want to use a wide aperture to give you a small depth-of-field then you can easily find your outdoor ambient lit background being overexposed.  This is when you add the ND filter to cut down the ambient light lit background exposure and crank up the power of the flash to offset the exposure reduction of the ND filter.

If you use window light as one light source indoors and add flash as the second light source then you are again looking for ways to adjust the ambient and flash exposures.  If you are unable to keep the ambient light background from being overexposed at wide apertures, chosen for a small depth-of-field, then you need to use the ND filter to reduce the ambient background exposure and up the flash power appropriately.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

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Richard Cooper OP Senior Member • Posts: 1,540
Re: Flash photography and using an ND filter

Sailor Blue, thank you for your response.

This is what information I was looking for.

Richard OP

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