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Understanding the Use of Neutral Density Filters in Videography - Arches National Park Edition

After an epic couple days hiking and filming in Zion National Park, the PolarPro team extended this journey another 300 miles east to Arches National Park, north of Moab, Utah. Boasting over 2,000 sandstone arches that have been forming for millions of years, including the double arch which will be the first stop for the team. While hiking around Zion National Park, our team  applied ND filters to capture images of various landscapes; in this article we plan to demonstrate the use of ND filters in video to produce smooth motion blur effect on moving subjects or objects similar to when shooting still images.

The Double Arch

Equipped with a PolarPro QuartzLine ND8, ND16, and the ND64/PL the duo headed out for the first stop within Arches National Park. Once they reached the double arch, the first shoot would be using the ND16. With a reduced shutter speed of 1/120th and the frames per second set accordingly to 60fps to ensure the 180 degree rule is met. With the aforementioned settings and a plan to keep the aperture open produces a shallow depth of field and focus on the subject of your video while ensuring a naturally smooth motion and provide a more vivid color.

Before moving on to the next location, the PolarPro tandem switched from the ND16 filter down to the ND8 filter. This switch will allow closing of the aperture to get more of the scene in focus around the subject. Keep in mind that this switch in neutral density filters did not prompt a change of settings, so the team continued shooting at 1/120th and 60fps to ensure the video looks most natural.

Sand Dune Arch

The team continued into Arches National Park to Sand Dune Arch  which would be the last stop of the trip to shoot at the more cinematic 24fps. Agreeing with the 180 degree rule meant that the shutter speed was adjusted to 1/50th for a more natural viewing experience. Finding themselves in lower light conditions, the team opted to first apply the ND8 filter to create a beautifully smooth video. With the ND8 combined with a closing of the aperture showed more of the beautiful Sand Dune Arch scenery into the shot around the subject in motion.

Skyline Arch

The last destination within Arches National Park was Skyline Arch. With the sun finally showing through the clouds, it presented an opportunity for the ND64/PL filter. With the filter applied and the settings remaining at 24fps and 1/50th for the shutter speed the team got to work. With the ND64/PL applied, it promotes saturation and darkening of the background while exposing for the foreground to create a wonderful separation and scene. 

With our Team back at HQ safe and sound, we hope that this article and related video both provided insight into long exposure videography with the use of ND filters and inspired you to get out into the wild to capture perfection! If you are interested in learning more or wanting to check out our QuartzLine ND filters for your next trip out into the field, use the links below!

Scott Fairfax 

 Chief Copywriter, PolarPro 

 Contact me directly here:

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