ND filter for street shooting?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 18,190
Re: ND filter for street shooting?

BrownBandit wrote:

I shoot with Fuji 35mm F1. 4 for night-time (bars and such), and Fuji 16mm F1.4 for daytime, cityscapes, landscapes.

I'll start with something that's not really what you've asked. Bokeh is used to describe the quality of out-of-focus blur, not how much of it there is. By quality I mean things like how smooth the blurred areas are.

What you seem to be talking about is depth of field (DOF). A lens can focus at only one distance away: everything nearer or further is out of focus to some extent; the more distant from the focus distance the more the out-of-focus blur. Fortunately, our eyes can accommodate a small amount of blur and still see things as being sharp.

That means that things relatively close to the focus distance look sharp; how close "relatively" is depends on the f-number you use. The smaller the f-number (larger aperture) the shallower the DOF. One if the skills of photography is knowing what f-number gives a satisfactory DOF for the particular shot.

Use this link to see how DOF works https://dofsimulator.net/en/. It includes a calculator but this one is easier to use http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

I recently ran across this quote:

"Slap on a 3 stop ND filter for great street photography"

I'm guessing that an ND filter will lower my aperture allowing for better bokeh?

The appearance of the output photo depends on the amount of light and how the camera's exposure parameters are set. The exposure parameters are f-number and shutter speed. Using an ND filter reduces the light reaching the sensor, so if you keep shutter speed constant then an ND will demand a wider aperture (lower f-number). So the answer to your first question depends in what you mean by "lower my aperture".

As I've said, bokeh is the quality of the out-of-focus blur. That depends on the lens, not on any filter. So the answer to the question as asked is "no". If what you are really asking about is DOF, then for the same shutter speed the DOF will reduce with the ND. Whether this is better or worse depends on what you are trying to achieve - there is no universal yes/no answer.

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting

In most cases I would expect none.

with a 3x on my 35mm? And will it cause more blur?

What sort of blur? If it causes a wider aperture (lower f-number) it will reduce DOF and therefore increase the blurred areas of the photo.

If you maintain the same f-number and increase (lengthen) shutter speed accordingly it may take you to a point where either (or both) subject-motion and camera-motion blur show.

What would be the sweet spot? 3x, 6x, 10x?

There's no fixed amount because the effect depends on how bright the light is, what exposure settings you start from and how much movement there is in the scene.

While I have you, and am firmly rooted in the Beginner questions section:

The other day I did a photoshoot with my GF. I was using the 16mm F1.4 and I assumed I wanted as much bokeh as I could get (inside portraiture).

Again, you seem to be talking about DOF, not bokeh. And what you describe as "as much bokeh" means "r=the shallowest possible DOF".

I set the aperture manually to F.14 and it was a huge fail.

A full 75% of my photos were blurry. I had everything else set to auto. Is it possible that by not setting the aperture to A that caused the blur? It wasn't camera shake or model movement.

No. It was not understanding DOF. If some parts of the image (hopefully the face) were sharp then your focusing is fine and you are using too wide san aperture.

I'm not sure what you mean by "auto". The Auto mode on a camera means that you let the camera decide everything; but you say you were using A for aperture - and that takes you away from Auto.

Anyway, my inexperience makes me wonder if an ND filter would only increase the issues.

It would. Master the basics before you move on to using accessories.

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I'm happy for anyone to edit any of my photos and display the results
First camera 1953, first Pentax 1985, first DSLR 2006

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