ND filter for street shooting?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
BrownBandit Junior Member • Posts: 48
ND filter for street shooting?
1

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

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?

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm? And will it cause more blur?

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

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). 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.

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

Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 18,217
Re: ND filter for street shooting?
1

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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In2Lapland
In2Lapland Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: ND filter for street shooting?

No answer to your question, food for thought:
As long as you struggle with your vision of an image - how, what, where, and when to use which setting - an extra addition of a factor won't get you where you want to get.

This is my view on what you posted ....

In other words, try to understand the "how, what, where, when certain setting" will, or will not, work in relation to your view of an image.

Tools - use of filters, flash - are not always the answer to a particular vision.

You can get started with a vision of another, but do not apply it as your vision, be creative in this.

Perhaps you should delve a little more into the use of filters to arrive at answers than asking questions about what a certain filter has for effect.
That way you are reasonably prepared for the meaningful and less meaningful answers by others.

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KCook
KCook Forum Pro • Posts: 18,928
Re: ND filter for street shooting?
2

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

That was weird advice, frankly. In theory a ND filter could be used for SP, but only when you are seeking a very long shutter speed to magnify motion blur. Which is a style in SP, just not a style that is very popular.

Here is a link for an article on deliberate motion blur in SP -

https://digital-photography-school.com/panning-tips-adding-motion-street-photography/

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BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,912
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 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?

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm? And will it cause more blur?

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

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). 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.

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

Using an ND8 with wide apertures could help avoid overexposure on bright days when the shutter speed would need to be beyond the maximum. You would still have 1/500th or faster. It can also help achieve the synch speed with flash.

3 stops is enough to blur moving water at narrow apertures, so it is versatile.

I don't see what real purpose it would serve for street photography. It won't prevent camera shake or motion blur. It would make it worse.

linux99 Senior Member • Posts: 2,075
Do you want lots of blur for street shooting?
4

Do you really want lots of background blur for street shooting? Isn't the whole idea that you are capturing the environment (street) as well as just the person?

Sunny 16 rule says f16 for ISO 100 at 100th.

To shoot at f/1.4 you would need to be at 1/16,000 shutter speed (or 32,000 for ISO 200). My X100T does 1/4000 max speed so - this would be too fast!

At 1/4000 speed you are looking at f2.8 for 100 ISO or f4 for 200 ISO.

F4 on a APSC camera is really very thin for street shooting! f2.8 is maybe too shallow.

I think the advice about the ND filter was BS.

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Bob
Bob Senior Member • Posts: 2,498
Short answers and some homework
1

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 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?

Yes.  Bokeh is not the right term, but I know what you mean.

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm? And will it cause more blur?

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

You should do the math yourself.  Take a properly exposed shot with your Fuji in manual mode.  Then dial the shutter down 10 full stops.  That's what a 10x ND would produce.

or.  read this

https://petapixel.com/2020/04/23/how-to-calculate-exposure-time-with-a-10-stop-nd-filter/

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). 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.

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

Blur is not what I would have expected.  You might want to spend more time with your user manual.

Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 20,965
Re: ND filter for street shooting?
2

I have seen ND filters used in street photography to remove people.  If you use a very slow shutter speed, maybe several minutes, anybody moving will not be recorded.

In 1838, Louis Daguerre took a photo of a street scene.  Because of the very long exposure time, the only persons visible in the image are a man having his shoes cleaned and the shoe cleaner.  This is thought to be the first photograph of a human being.

https://mashable.com/2014/11/05/first-photograph-of-a-human/?europe=true

Somebody in my club took a series of early morning street scenes with very slow shutter speeds to eliminate all people and vehicles.  The results were a little disturbing because you are not used to seeing totally empty streets (except during Covid lockdown).

Somebody else in my club posted a 10 minute night time exposure of the King Charles Bridge in Prague which is normally packed with tourists until the floodlights are turned off at 11pm.  His image showed what appeared to be a totally empty bridge.  He also showed a normal exposure image with the bridge full of tourists.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 14,161
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 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

An ND filter causes you to either use a wider aperture (like f/1.4 not f/14) , a longer shutter-speed, or a higher ISO than you otherwise would use in a given situation. For “street photography” At least as I understand and sometimes practice it, I do not see much if any sense in using an ND filter.

allowing for better bokeh?

What you need to know about bokeh from the person who popularized the term: https://luminous-landscape.com/bokeh-in-pictures/

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm?

None.

And will it cause more blur?

if you choose a more open aperture your depth of field - the apparent depth of focus - will be shallower. On the other hand if you choose a longer shutter speed things that are in motion will blur and smear and if you are hand-holding your camera there is a chance that the camera’s own motion will create blur. This can be an interesting effect in strong light with intense colors. As an example of that effect look up Ernst Haas’s photos of bullfighting in Spain.

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

Zero.

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

a 16mm in any format, m4/3, APS-C, or full-frame would not be a focal length I’d use for shallow depth of field work.

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.

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

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TheGrammarFairy Regular Member • Posts: 368
Re: ND filter for street shooting?
1

Yes. You are correct about pretty much everything. If you want to learn what the f/stops on your camera do, don’t go flipping up and down the scale. Pick one and stick with it for a while.

Shoot everything  at f/5.6 for a week, then try at f/4 for the week after that, and so on until you get to f1.4.

And do the same thing with f/8, f/11, and f/16.

It will quickly become apparent to you which apertures speak to you.

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,294
Re: ND filter for street shooting?

BrownBandit wrote:

"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?

What advantages should I expect to see with daytime shooting with a 3x on my 35mm? And will it cause more blur?

A ND filter reduces the amount of light coming into the camera. Useful (in the old film days) if you had fast film and didn't have a very fast shutter speed, or if you wanted to use a larger aperture (shallower depth of field, which is what I think you mean by bokeh) or a slower shutter speed. But I don't know that it would necessarily make your street photos great.

My suggestion: Learn the basics of aperture and shutter speed and their effect on photos. Once you have that down (and it's easy). you'll better understand the effects of reducing the amount of light coming into the camera.

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

Okay, first -- bokeh is the quality of the blur, not the blur itself. What you are talking about is depth of field -- how much of the photo is in focus. Think of it as a range -- everything from 1 to 3 feet away from the lens (numbers picked at random) will be in focus. Everything closer than 1 foot or farther away than 3 feet will be out of focus. That is (more or less) depth of field.

The larger the aperture (lens opening -- that's the f/number you set, smaller number = bigger aperture) the narrower the DOF. The smaller the aperture the wider the DOF. Everything is in focus though a pinhole (tiny aperture). DOF also increases as you get farther away from the camera, and with smaller lens focal lengths.

Here's what I suggest: Pick up a book called Photography by Barbara London and John Upton . The latest version is mega expensive but get the 9th edition used adn you can get it for $5-20. Older editions are film-focused but the principles are the same and they do a GREAT job explaining DOF, aperture, shutter speed, etc.

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.

If you were indoors and using A to force a certain aperture, the camera was probably selecting slow shutter speeds that made the photos blurry. Indoor is very low light and you need to either hold the camera carefully or use a tripod.

Again I can't recommend a good book strongly enough -- it'll cover these basics.

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

An ND filter will make your indoor photography even more miserable.

Again, learn the basics of exposure (shuter speed, aperture, and how they interrelate) and you'll be golden and well on the road to getting the photos you want.

Welcome to the great adventure!

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