Finally Used my ND 16 Filter

Finally got a chance to test out my ND 16 filter! On our road trip to Jefferson Lake we noticed a nice little waterfall at Tarryall Reservoir that I’ve never even heard of before. We stopped for a bit to see if we could get a good view of it for pictures but we were focused on moose and didn’t want to spend the time to get out a tripod and a make a long exposure so we quickly scouted out the location and hit the road.

What is an ND 16 filter you ask? It’s a color neutral density filter that comes in varying degrees of darkness, the 16 in this case translates to four stops of light. So on a scene that might normally call for a 200th of a second shutter speed at F8 can be shot with a two second shutter speed at the same aperture. This of course means that anything in the image that is moving is going to be blurry in the final image. In this case the water is moving and will show as a smooth flow down the mountain. I shot the below image without the ND filter as we were scouting out the scene and as you can see the water appears rough and frozen in place by the fast shutter speed. The bottom image shows smooth flowing water using a slow shutter speed facilitated by the ND filter.


You have to be very careful when buying an ND filter to make sure you are getting the light stops that you think you are, some filters use a filter factor naming system, while others just use the optical density system. To be sure of your filter you may need to consult this chart created by B&H Photo as a guide. For instance, while the ND16 is four stops on the filter factor scale, your ten stop filter may be labeled with an ND 3.0 rating on the optical density scale. I happen to have a nine stop filter called ND2.7. Very confusing, I know… But don’t feel bad, I spent almost $100 on an ND4 filter thinking I was getting a four stop filter, but only wound up with a nearly useless half a stop of light modification ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Well anyway, our day of moose and hawk photography was complete and we were on our way home when we stopped for long exposures ofย  the waterfall. Unfortunately we encountered a rather formidable fence as we made our way down the hillside to our intended shooting location and were forced to Plan B which as of yet did not existย  :{ It appeared that if we switched to long lenses we might get a view from the hillside on the opposite side of the valley, so back to the car it was. We loaded up our stuff and drove around the mountain to the other side where we got all our gear back out, switched to the 100-400 F4-F5.6 lenses and fitted them with a four stop filter.

Waterfall at TarryallA short climb up the hillside yielded a pretty good view, so I set up the heavy tripod and attached the camera.ย  I could hear the sound of thunder echoing across the valley and a quick look at the approaching clouds revealed that I was not going to have long to pull off this shot. I put my camera in Live View, selected a two second exposure and watched the screen as I dialed in a suitable aperture, which turned out to be F10 at ISO 100.

By the time the first sprinkles were hitting my face I was satisfied that I had the shot… Packed up my gear and headed for the vehicle and it was a good thing we didn’t get too far as within a few seconds we were in a deluge of water and hail that was almost severe enough to require pulling off the road! But we were able to keep going slowly and eventually drove out of the foul weather and into the beautiful light of evening.

Well anyway, I hope you find the article helpful and the image enjoyable! If you find the content useful please consider following my blog and / or supporting my work with a donation or a tip by clicking the buttons at the beginning and end of the article ๐Ÿ™‚


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Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo, meaning “Blood of Christ”, according to this article in Wikipedia. Here in Colorado it is also a rugged and magnificent mountain range, one that I have been meaning to photograph in winter with just the right light for a long time. I knew that recent snow storms and cold temperatures were creating just the right conditions so I have been on the alert for the perfect day. I have been scoping out the right time of day for a while and when I saw that we had fresh snow followed by a clear day in the weather forecast, I knew that today was going to be the day.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range on a bitterly cold Colorado winter morning.And quite a day it was. Unfortunately when I awoke I was dismayed to discover that it was three degrees below zero here in southern Colorado with a bit more snow last night than I was planning on. Three below with a -10 windchill made me want to just crawl back under the covers and go to sleep, but the little voice told me it was going to be a great day. Often the bitterly cold days following a snowstorm produce amazing scenery here in the high country. So… I walked the dogs and loaded up my gear. Also called my friend to find out if she was still down with our planned trip… and after a slight hesitation she replied, “sure, what time?”. That was it… Come hell or high water I was going, and after a slight detour to Walmart for supplies we were on our way.

Not much to see but valley between Divide and Gillette Flats, but as we cruised through the high mountain prairie I could see it was indeed going to be a great day ๐Ÿ™‚ A few more minutes and Tenderfoot Pass was in the rear view mirror and the mountain range came into view. And it was amazing to say the least… The bitter cold and snow had produced one of the most amazing scenes I have ever encountered in my 30 years in the mountains. Soon the overlook came into view and we pulled in… Solid ice on the pavement made stopping in time a challenge, but a few pumps of the brakes and I was out capturing the day’s income! And it was cold… the wind was blowing hard from the west and the temperature at 10,500 feet was not very accommodating either! The wind chill was probably -20 I imagine, but I was not going to let a minor detail like that keep me from getting these images!

However, there was one little item to cut the session short… I promised my friend we would make the .49 cent breakfast at Bronco Billy’s casino in Cripple… so 136 images later we were on our way into town… and 30 minutes ahead of the deadline for breakfast. So my friend decided it wasn’t too much of a risk to gamble $1, which she turned into $19 by the time we got the call for our reservation ๐Ÿ™‚ $2.25 later and we were both stuffed… with eggs, hash browns, pancakes and toast and jelly ๐Ÿ™‚

Next destination, the park west of the court house to walk the doggies… another damned cold endeavor, but fortunately the puppies got their jobs done in a hurry ๐Ÿ™‚ Then onto the house we are buying… to make sure it is still there of course ๐Ÿ™‚ Assuming nothing goes wrong… I will be calling Cripple Creek home in about a month ๐Ÿ™‚

There is one more nice overlook between Cripple and Victor which seemed like a worthwhile stop, as long as I was this far… While shooting from that spot I noticed that the mountains were a lot more clearly visible with sunglasses on. Too bad my camera doesn’t have sunglasses. Wait, it does! I shuffled through my camera bag of goodies and there it was, my awesome B&W circular polarizer (ABWCP). Now of course I had to go back to the original location and shoot some more with the filter on, which proved well worth the effort. The best image of the day was one shot with the polarizer. Reminds me of a senior picture session I did one time… after an entire morning of shooting in Botanic Gardens in Denver, on our way out I spotted a bench with some colorful flowers in the background. One more shot, and the last shot of the day proved to be the best one of all. Lol… I could have gone there first and taken one shot and gone home ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So far I only have one image completed, the one shown in the article. But soon there will be many more available for purchase as prints, gift items, apparel and stock licensing for commercial use. Please click the link to my Fine Art Website to view the images as I complete them.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items