What is possible with Neutral Density filters

So, the other day I went out after becoming inspired by an article in digital slr photography magazine on “moody seascapes” I had for a while.
The weather was really blah with overcast skies and greyness as far as you could see with the rain starting and stoping like a city busy full of people.
I knew I wanted as simple and clean composition possible as I wanted to convert my shot into black and white afterwards.

Let’s go through the stages that I went through to produce the final shot:

ND Filter Before Composition. I had an idea for the location that would give me the best chance of getting the shot I had been visualising, so when I arrived it was just a case of taking a look around, picking a spot and lining everything up. I went through a few test shots before deciding on my final composition. Because I was going to be using my “big stopper” I would have to lock in the composition before I started to take any real shots because the filter is so dark you can’t actually see through it.

ND1000 Filter Big Stopper: I knew that I wanted to really smooth the surface of the water out for this shot and seeing as this was the late afternoon and was still daylight, I used my 10-stop B-W ND filter. This filter lets me take around 60 second exposures in broad daylight, so was perfect for this situation. ND filters try to be as colour-neutral as possible but with such a high amount of light being cut out from the ND1000 filter it’s inevitable that there will be a slight shift. I actually like the reddish tint that the B-W produces.

ND1000 Filter ND1000 + 0.9 Grad Filter : Here is a shot i got after the 0.9 grad filter was applied on top of my big stopper. As you can see a big change in the light with the foreground becoming brighter and vibrant. The shot pops out more and its not dull as the one we took just with the big stopper. This was the shot I wanted to to work with and convert into the b&w.

ND1000 Filter LIghtroom: When I got home I imported my shots into lightroom.  I desaturated the image, bumped the exposure up a little and dragged a graduated filter -1 on the sky to make it even darker and straightened the horizon.

ND1000 Filter Finalizing in Photoshop: I added contrast to the rocks and darkened the sky with curves and tadaaa my final image was born.

What gear I used:

Camera: Canon 450d  |  Lens: EF-S 10-22mm  |  Tripod – Vanguard Alta Pro 264  |  Ball head SBH300  |  B+W ND 1000  |  Cokin 0.9 Grad  |  Remote Shutter Release  |

What Settings I used:

Focal distance: 12mm  |  ISO 400  |  Shutter speed 300sec  | Aperture F8  |  Format Raw  |  Manual Mode  |  EV 0  |  Flash off Did not fire  |