The importance of an ND filter

Did you like this video? I have a better one now, because I produced a video-tutorial that shows what you have to do to sell the images you've already shot. Please, give me your email if you want to make money with your photo archive!

Text of the video:

This thumbnail comes from a time lapse I made in London, in the square between the Parliament and Westminster Abbey, which is the most visited place in the world by photographers with Times Square and Trocadero. It is a footage slightly overexposed, because the most important subject is a dark statue and I wanted that statue to be perfect. You know, I don't like HDR, and It is also difficult to film a time lapse using that tecnique. By the way, even if I like that footage, it didn't sell, because buyers looking for video about Nelson Mandela are not using microstock websites and buyers looking for London footage want postcards content, or maybe niche content.

Yes, we are talking about selling stock footage and not about a contemporary art exhibition.

Anyone who has worked with a digital reflex knows that one of the main problem, if you work with a smaller aperture than 8, is represented by dust that rests on the sensor and transmit to the photos. There are cleaning kits, specific functions in the menu of the camera and some precautions you can apply to contain the problem. Well, I'm a time-lapse lover and I use to take 5 to 10 thousand photos a day when I film a big city, but unfortunately I have never managed to get rid of those black spots.

The ND filters are gray glasses mounted to the lens, decreasing the amount of light that reaches the sensor just enough to allow you to take pictures with a slower shutter speed, so if you use them you can shoot with wider aperture and forget about the spots.

Also think about this:

a time-lapse represents subjects that move very quickly.

To be perceived by the eye as a real scene those subjects must have the contrail, and if you work with f 8 without the ND filter it can not happen.

I bought my first ND filter few years ago. Obviously, since microstock was just a hobby I made the obvious choice, which is usually the wrong one. I went on EBay and decided for the cheapest option. Then I went to Venice to test it and when I came back home I realized that the quality of the pictures I took was so bad to sell those time-lapses as stock footage. I saved 60 euros but probably I lost 10 times more in terms of revenues. So I read few posts on blogs and forums and I discovered the brand Hoya, who does not pay me to say it, and from that moment on it made me sleep soundly with less than 100 euros.

Let me tell you an anecdote that can make you understand many things when it comes to buying the equipment to get the best stock footage. In January 2009 I was in Paris to produce time lapse with the reflex and video in real time with my HDV camera. As I explain in the course, I owe the journey many of the best seller in my collection. Shortly after arriving, the lens broke. I had to choose: take only real-time video or go into any camera store and purchase a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, I decided for the first option and, looking at the sales results of the remaining material collected during the days previous the break, I think the decision has cost me losses in terms of lost revenue of thousands of euro.

We are talking about a period of time when Pond5 already paid milions to contributors, but had only few hundreds videos of Paris in his collection. All this to tell you that, when video and photography go from being a hobby to a source of income, you have to start thinking that what you buy becomes a tool to earn more. Saving 60 Euros for the filter or 200 euros for a lens, as it happened to me, can make you lose the money for your next trip or the money you need to buy powerful equipment.

In other words:

change your mind!