(Nancy Kaufman) #1


Compose your scene

Set your scene as you would any landscape
shot, using the rule of thirds. As the windmill
is our main subject we placed it on a third
line towards one side of the frame and
placed our horizon along the bottom third.
In an effort to show the movement clearly,
we ensured our windmill was reasonably
large in the frame.

Darken the glass

A variable ND is constructed from two
sheets of polarized material, the outermost
of which rotates. Turn this from the Min to
Max position and the filter gets gradually
darker. Markings on the filter show the
rough number of stops. The exact shutter
speed you’ll need for the shot to look ‘right’
will depend on the speed the sails are
turning. For our shot 1/4 sec was right.

Take the shot

Shooting at such a slow shutter speed will
require a tripod to avoid camera shake.
A remote shutter release is also desirable to
avoid ‘jogging’ the camera as you press the
button – at these sorts of shutter speeds
the effect will be very pronounced. You’ll
need to time the shot so that the sails form
an ‘X’ shape for the best composition – and
for this reason, using the 2-sec self-timer
rather than a remote release is impractical.

Alternative tricks
What if you don’t have a variable ND? 10-stop
‘big stopper’ style ND filters are all the rage
nowadays, but will slow down your exposure far
too much. You can counteract the effect of the
filter and increase your shutter speed by simply
increasing your ISO – it’s a compromise, but will
get you the shot. Some Nikons have a slower
base ISO than 100 – such as our Z 7’s ISO64

  • and even slower if you delve into your camera’s
    ‘Lo’ settings. A polarizing filter at maximum
    polarization is good for a couple of stops, too.

Go-to settings
For total control of your settings, shoot in
Manual. Set a narrow aperture, such as f/11

  • this will not only ensure that you have a
    good depth of field, so your scene is sharp
    from front to back, but will slow down your
    exposure, too. Set a low ISO for top quality

  • we went for ISO100 – and dial in the
    shutter speed suggested by your exposure
    meter. In our case this was 1/160 sec.

Attach the filter
The filter screws onto the front of your lens.
Before the shoot, we weren’t sure whether
we’d be using our wide-angle lens, which
has a filter thread diameter of 82mm, or
our 24-70mm standard zoom, which has a
diameter of 72mm. The Syrp filter we used
has an 82mm thread, but comes with
step-up rings for attaching to 72mm
and 77mm diameter lenses as well.







Expert Tip

We went to Wilton Windmill
the only working windmill in
Wessex. Situated above the
village of Wilton, in the heart
of the North Wessex Downs
Area of Outstanding Beauty,
it is open every year from
Easter to the end of
September on Sundays and
Bank Holidays, from 2pm to
5pm. When the windmill is
open you can go for tours
and visit the Granary. To
find your closest working
windmill, see the handy map
at: http://www.brockwell-bake.org.
Free download pdf