As I intended to go looking for a stretch of fast moving water to try this out I opted for the all in one variable version as I had visions of juggling multiple filters near fast water and dropping at least a couple of them in the drink, followed by me trying to catch them (not cool). As for the cost, given I intended to write this post and for you all to have a crack after i opted for a budget version around 20 squids which I could justify for something I would only use now and again.
Armed with your new addition to the family screwed firmly to the front of your camera and some sort of support device for your camera (tripod, wheat bag, gorilla pod to name but a few) as we will be using around a 1 second shutter speed making hand held a non option.
So with everything prep’d and ready, its off to take some pictures we go.
First frame your shot and take a couple of images on auto with the filter set to minimum effect just to make sure you are happy with the focus and the shot framing in general. Its worth a mention that with the filter set on full effect (i.e. max) your auto focus will most likely not work, as hardly any light will be getting to your sensor. This is possibly another good reason for using the variable version as I found i did have to keep turning the filter back to minimum to check my focus.
You will need to set your dials on the camera to full manual as shutter priority (Most commonly TV) will try to compensate for the lack of light and give you the minimum depth of field possible in a vane attempt to make up for the filter effect.
In my case I had a fairly bright day to play with so for my first go I opted for a 1 second shutter speed, a mid range F-stop, maximum filter effect, ISO set to around 200 and no zoom on the lens.
This I found to be a fair starting point from which I could either loose some filter effect if the shot was too dark or raise the F-stop if things where a little too light without having to deviate from my 1 second shutter speed.
To be fair I doubt I would like to try this technique on a film camera as there is an amount of wasted images before you get the result you are happy with, in other words you will kiss a few frogs before you find a prince or princess depending on your preference.
One useful tip which I found which may seem obvious to you all. However I only found this through failure, is that should you choose a scene similar to those I tried i.e. trees and water then it is quite important to ensure you do this on a day when the wind is not moving the trees too much otherwise they will cease to be the stationary element of your image and will take on the same blur effect as the water which in effect makes the whole image just look a little out of focus.
In conclusion I would recommend that you all have a go at this as the results can be quite rewarding for a fairly low cost and I feel sure you will find many other applications for the technique, the only restriction being your own imagination.