Lee Big stopper and other ND filters – usage and examples

Ever thought about how photographers get unnaturally calm waters for their landscape pictures? Here’s how:

  • ND filter – needs to be a few stops.  Unfortunately we don’t have the Hitech one anymore but we do sell the Rolls Royce of ND filters – the Lee Big Stopper.

Lee Big Stopper

  • Filter holder (well, yes, I’ve heard some people hold their filters in front of their lens.  Imagine doing that for 30 seconds? I don’t think so.  Pick up a foundation kit and a lens adapter ring.
  • Lee Filters Holder System foundation kit
  • A tripod
  • The right scene and elements – avoid windy days.

Essentially, it allows us to take photos during daylight with a longer shutter time thus smoothing out elements that are moving e.g. water from waterfalls, waves.

Here’s some examples I’ve taken. I do admit I’m not very good at this – these ones were taken using the Hitech ND 10. I’m itching to find an excuse to upgrade to the Lee Big Stopper but for the time being this will have to do.  The Lee Big Stopper has less blue discolouration so I hear but Lightroom does a pretty good job with white balance.  Always shoot in raw.

Set up the tripod and set the focus to what you want – turn off autofocus and then place the filter in place.  To calculate the shutter speed, there’s various tables, graphs and even iphone apps to help out.  I have a Sony A55 which comes with an electronic viewfinder so that comes in handy for shutter speeds up to 30 seconds.

New Zealand – rough waves to smoothen out.  It was very windy so I had to weigh down my tripod with my camera bag (everyone knows a photographer’s bag is very heavy). 25 second shutter speed for the picture with the filter – I think there was a bit of light leakage from the sides.

ND filter example


ND filter example

Budapest Chain Bridge 30 second shutter speed for the filter photo:

ND filter exampleND filter example

New Zealand again – 30 second shutter speed.

ND filter exampleND filter example

Maybe I can get my more talented friends to donate a few of their photos =)  I guess some waterfall scenes would be nice to add to this collection – the Lee website has some examples and videos on how to use their system.

There’s also a few reviews of the Lee big stopper available:

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