Use ND Filters to Blur Motion

Use ND Filters to Blur Motion

The use of various filters – physical ones, not the ones in Photoshop – is something that waxes and wanes with time. Back in the film days, filters were an indispensable part of the landscape photographer’s toolkit. With the advent of digital photography and technologies like HDR, the use of filters, especially graduated and colored filters, has fallen off quite a bit. As is wont to happen, what’s old is slowly becoming new again. Of late, there’s been a resurgence in the use of certain filters, to the point where Schneider, one of the leading companies that makes these filters, is back-ordered on a number of them. What is an ND filter, and why do I want to use one? But let’s backtrack and talk about what an ND filter is, exactly. In simple terms, an ND – or Neutral Density – filter is a dark piece of glass or resin that cuts down the amount of light coming into your camera. It does so without, hopefully, affecting the white balance of your image, or adding a color cast (though as you’ll see later, this isn’t always the case). Now, why would you use an ND filter? Well, there are a number of reasons for that. Here’s an excerpt from a previous post… One thing that confuses a lot of photographers is that in the video world, shutter speed is no longer something you can use to control your exposure – at least, not without additional consequences. When shooting video, your shutter speed needs to be fixed at either 1/50th of a second (if you’re shooting video at 24fps)...
Op-Ed: Gear Doesn’t Matter – Except When It Does

Op-Ed: Gear Doesn’t Matter – Except When It Does

Please note: this article is a personal opinion and does not reflect the views of BorrowLenses.com. All thoughts and images are my own. Introduction If you follow any part of the photographic blogosphere, you’ve heard folks repeat this mantra over and over and over again: “Gear doesn’t matter.” The basic premise of that dictum is as follows: making great pictures is about the photographer, not the camera or the lens or any other piece of gear. A good photographer can make a great image with a point-and-shoot that an amateur armed with a Nikon D4 and an 85mm f/1.4 lens can’t match. I’ve personally repeated the “It’s not the camera that takes the picture” mantra to new photographers myself because I know it to be true, and because it helps allay the fears many photographers have when buying their first DSLR, for example. I’ve also made some images, like the one shown here of Highway 130 in the San Francisco Bay Area, that I still like. It was taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and an 18–55mm kit lens. So, yes, at a basic level, you can make great images with very basic gear. For newcomers, especially, this is a good sermon to preach. The catch You knew there was going to be one, right? Before I tell you what that catch is, let me say this again, this time in bold and italic typeface: You don’t need expensive gear to get started in photography. Even a point-and-shoot will work. Use basic gear to learn the basics of photography before you start eyeing big gear. Ok. Here’s that catch: Gear...
Tip of the Week: Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos

Tip of the Week: Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com. There are many ways to create panoramic images. You can start with a really wide-angle lens, then simply crop down to a long, narrow band to create a “faux” panorama. You can also use the built-in panoramic functions of cameras like Sony’s NEX and Alpha series, as well as Fuji’s X100 and X-Pro1. You can also simply take a series of pictures and stitch them together in Photoshop, or, if you’re really into panoramic photography, you could rent a pano-head from us, like the ones from Nodal Ninja. Today, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite ways to create panoramas. All of the methods above have some shortcomings that make it a bit harder to create good panos. Using a wide-angle lens and cropping, for example, leaves me with a lower-resolution file than I’d like. The built-in pano features in some cameras is neat, and I do use them (as shown in Figure 1), but they’re also relatively low-res JPEGs. Pano heads are great for this sort of work, but you have to find the “nodal point” of each lens you want to use, and that takes quite a bit of work. Tilt-shift lenses are a great alternative for creating panoramic images. Traditionally, these are used by architectural and landscape photographers to avoid distortion or...
Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

The practice of swapping lenses between platforms via adapters isn’t something new. Back in October 2011, for example, we wrote about using Canon, Nikon, and Leica lenses with Micro 4/3 cameras. Similarly, you can use an adapter to mount Nikon lenses onto Canon cameras, but until recently, this was limited to a smaller subset of Nikon lenses. The “D” lenses from Nikon, the ones with manual aperture rings like the Nikon 35mm f/2, could be used via an adapter on Canon cameras. You could manipulate the aperture manually on the lens, and set the shutter speed on your camera. DSLR video shooters quickly took to these lenses for this very reason. However, Nikon’s “G” class of lenses couldn’t be used with those adapters as there was no way to control the aperture on them as they lacked a manual aperture ring. The aperture was controlled electronically from the camera itself, and Canon cameras could not communicate with the lens in order to do so. Enter the Nikon G Lens to Canon Camera adapter. This ingenious little device allows not only the mounting of a Nikon lens to a Canon camera (like the older adapter we carry for “D” lenses), but also lets you mount a “G” lens onto your Canon body – and gives you a way to control the lens’ aperture mechanically. If you look at the adapter itself, there are two blue tabs attached to it. Once the lens is attached to the adapter, those blue tabs move a small lever on the lens itself that opens and closes the aperture. Looking through the viewfinder on your...
Op-Ed: Your Medium and Tools as Inspiration

Op-Ed: Your Medium and Tools as Inspiration

I just noticed that Instagram for Android was released yesterday, and it’s downloading as I write this. I really dig Instagram, SmugMug’s Camera Awesome, and all the other iPhone/Android camera apps out there; they’ve truly democratized photography and that’s for the better. Then I saw this on Popular Photography: Inside the World of Large Scale Wet Plate Photography. The story is about photographer Ian Ruther’s camera-in-a-truck that he takes out on location to make images. The cost of each image is a staggering $500, and the process isn’t exactly easy, as shown in the video below. I’m old enough to remember the days of film, of loading hand-rolled 35mm film cassettes into my Canon AE-1. As late as 2010, I still developed a bunch of medium-format 120 film myself, having fallen in love with the medium all over again. I’ve even shot on 4×5 film on a borrowed Crown Graphic, and it was a wonderful experience. Watching Ian Ruthers’ experiences in the video above reminded me of why, despite doing the bulk of my photography on a Canon 5D Mark II and the best lenses Canon has to offer, I still reach for my borrowed Hasselblad or my own Mamiya C33 TLR. Let’s get one thing out of the way – I don’t shoot film because I think it’s higher-quality than digital. That argument isn’t really valid anymore, especially given that quality is subjective. This is about one thing, and one thing only: the medium. Most arguments from film proponents start with, “There’s something about shooting film…” This is often followed by, “I can’t quite explain it.” I can appreciate...