When I use to work in a photography studio, I used all types of filters. But when it came to going out and shooting for myself I’ve never took the time to experiment and learn what they could and could not do. Really didn’t have a reason – just didn’t want to. I’ve always enjoyed other photographer’s work of waterfalls or streams and how beautiful they are. Now I’m ready to learn. The secret to it all (in my opinion) is the Neutral Density (ND) filters.

ND filters reduces the amount of light entering your lens. It gives me several ways to overexpose an image by changing my aperture, shutter speed, or ISO. With water I wanted to give it that smooth, silky look so I adjusted my shutter speed. Now if I wanted the water to look choppy/sharp (which I normally have) I would select a higher shutter speed. A tripod is definitely a must. When my shutter speed becomes slower and slower, a tripod is very useful to keep the camera steady.

The filter I used was the Tiffen ND 0.6 filter. The 0.6 means two stops. For an example if a test photograph were ISO 200, f/22, 1/8 second, I would adjust my shutter to ½ second. And if I’m still not satisfied I can continue to adjust my shutter speed. During my research I read that the more stops your ND filter gives the darker (filter that is) it becomes. A 10-stop filter may be totally black. What I would do then is compose my subject and focus, attach the filter on the lens, and make sure I turn my focusing to manual (your camera can not focus automatically because it can’t see anything). Lucky for me because the 0.6 filters are at the bottom range of filters and not really dark, I was able to focus with the filter attached to the lens. The camera I used was a mirrorless. I’m not for sure if there’s a difference between mirrorless and DSLR’s. If need be just be aware of the two.


  • Sturdy tripod
  • Fully charged batteries
  • Cable release or timer
  • If you have Live View on your camera use it
  • If your prescription glasses are tinted they may give you false information (believe me I know)
  • Take plenty of photographs – waves changes constantly, which gives you a variety of different and creative photographs
  • Patience, patience, and more patience

This was my first shooting with a ND. I felt “okay” for the first time but I have a lot of learning to do – something I enjoy doing :-). These photographs were taken at Great Falls, VA. Some of the water was very aggressive this day and the ND 0.6 just wasn’t enough. I’m hoping before it gets too cold I can spend a day at Great Falls on the Maryland side.

To see more of my photographs from Great Falls, VA please go to Select Special Projects, then Great Falls, VA.

Happy shooting!! 🙂 🙂

1/13 sec @ f/13 ISO 200
1 sec @ f/22 ISO 200
1/4 sec @ f/18 ISO 200
1/4 sec @ f/18 ISO 200