I started out early one morning while my family and I were camping at Chatcolet Lake in North Idaho. The week before I picked up some ND filters and was naturally quite excited to strap them on and get down to business. While I walked out to my previously scouted spot in the dark I went through a checklist in my head of the to do's, not to do's and to remembers of using my new filters. I felt like a kid in the candy store walking up to the counter for the first time, to buy a piece of my favorite penny candy for the first time. Kind of nervous, kind of excited and most of all ready to go!
When I got to my first spot I noticed a slight breeze coming up my back but payed it no attention as the light was just starting to peek into view in the distant mountains. Now as any photographer can attest to when the light starts to make an appearance your heart picks up the pace, eyes widen a bit and the excitement building in your stomach is almost palpable! Tack on the fact that I have never used a 10 stop neutral density filter before and my expectations are always very high and you have a virtual recipe for disaster!!! As the sun showered the distant landscape with the most vibrant, yet subtle light I have ever witnessed. In that intense moment I remembered to close my eyes, take a deep breath and whisper a quiet "thank you lord" under my breath. It was go time!!! My worries were unfounded (as they usually are) as the lord afforded me one of those extended sunrises where everything seems to slow to 1/2 speed and that gorgeous light lasts forever. I have to admit I totally guessed at first exposure time with the new filter, then fine tuned everything to my taste from there.
My First Impressions
Let me tell you one thing about using an ND filter, you must learn patience and sprinkle in a little patience and top all that off with some patience. If you're like me and get a little antsy when the good light hits and try mash the shutter into the camera as many times as possible like a 10 year old playing call of duty. Well then you either have to learn patience or give up the idea of long exposures all together. I am not sure if you all picked up on the theme of this paragraph so I will say it one more time....patience!!!
The performance of the filter itself was outstanding, in the field quite straightforward, focus before you screw it on and expose from there. What really impressed me later was the lack of color cast given by the filter. I am not sure if I just got a great copy or if all B+W filters are like this but I had almost no problems with color cast at all. I had envisioned this image to be in color and worried slightly about it because of all the color cast issues that come with these type of filters. I haven't run into anything that can't be corrected with a little white balance adjustment. I also noticed that during a sunrise with some pretty intense light using a 10 stop ND filter produces a nice glow and softness that creates a wonderful mood to the image.
The Final Word
All in all I have been more than pleased with B+W 10 stop ND filter, along with the use of all my filters to say the least. The filter itself is outstanding, quality build, very little color cast and no affect on sharpness that I noticed. I think what you gain in creative freedom by starting to experiment with neutral density filters is priceless. The ability to see right there in camera what the filter is doing and the affect it has on the scene can spawn new ideas. Consequently new ideas means more creative thoughts and it has a snowball effect from there. If you feel like you have hit a wall or even a small ditch in your creative journey consider a filter. It doesn't have to be a neutral density filter, a circular polarizing filter, graduated ND or a number of others will have you thinking differently than you already are and that my friends can be the key to new doors.