WhosHU Landscape » Landscape Photography

Rambergstranda, Norway – Tips for working with Lee Big Stopper

We made plans to stay in Leknes, Norway for 2 nights, mostly because the Rorbuer (traditional Norwegian fishing huts converted into cabins) we wanted wasn’t available for the first 2 days of our arrival. This turned out great! We were able to be close to a few beaches around Leknes on our first night and caught some awesome aurora lights.

After catching up on some much-needed sleep, we headed out to try and find some sunset. The first place I went to looked nice, but it was all wrong for sunset. I drove south a bit more and saw a big expansive white beach. The setup looked promising for sunset, so we went down for a bit of exploration. I later learned that this beach is called Rambergstranda.

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The clouds were moving fast tonight. Perfect time for a long exposure shot. After walking around the beach, I found an outlet for a small river. As the sun dipped below the mountains, the clouds lit up. It was looking promising! Luckily, the river wasn’t very deep, so I was able to keep my shoes on and walk into the shallow water.

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ISO100 18mm F/11 2.0 sec

The water made these interesting patterns in the sand. So I got down low, planted the tripod, set up for the 10 stop ND filter, and settled in for some very long exposure shots.

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ISO50 16mm F/11 158Sec

The 10 Stop ND filter is a very dark piece of glass, meant to cut the light by a factor of 10. This translates an exposure of 1/6 seconds to almost 3 minutes. The long exposure time smoothes out the clouds and the water, creating a very dream, soft effect.

 

Here are a few tips for working with very dark ND filters

  • Manual focus – The dark glass makes it very hard for the camera to focus. So set your focus without the ND filter first, lock it down to manual focus before putting on the ND filter
  • Lee Foundation Kit – It holds the ND filter for you. So you can quickly put on/take off the ND filter. The advantage here is that you can quickly pull the ND filter off, focus or recompose if you need to, then quickly put it back on.
  • Very sturdy tripod – I think this is pretty self-explanatory. But also keep in mind that if you’re shooting in the wet sand like I was, the tripod will slowly sink down. So either push the tripod down into the sand first or wait a few minutes for the tripod to settle.
  • Use an exposure calculator app – Lee gives you a small index card when you purchase the ND filters. It has general exposure conversion guidelines for their ND filters, don’t trust it completely. For example, at 1/4sec, the card tells you it’ll be a 4min exposure with the Big Stopper. It’s really 4min. 16 sec. Using an app also makes it easier to do reverse look up. So if your setting is telling you that you’ll have to shoot a 10 minutes exposure, but all you want to do is 3 minutes, you can quickly look up what aperture and ISO combo can achieve that.
  • Cover the eyepiece – If there is a strong light source behind you, it’s a good idea to cover the eyepiece. This prevents light leaks into the sensor. Canon cameras come with a rubber eyecup cover, some high-end Nikons have an eyepiece cover built it (so nice!)
  • Avoid the widest angle and smallest aperture – On my 16-35mm lens, if I choose to shoot at 16mm and F/22, I will get severe vignetting. It’s nice if you want the heavy vignetting effect, but it’s hard to recover the vignetting that heavy without introducing a lot of digital noise to the image. So keep that in mind.

Equipment used:

Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 16-35mm F/2.8
Gitzo GT2542 Carbon Fiber Tripod
RFN-4 Wireless Remote Shutter Release
Lee Filter Holder
Lee Big Stopper 10 Stop ND filter
Adapter Rings for your lenses
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