How to mount a Big Stopper ND3 filter on a polarizing filter

Ok, to introduce my next photo I want to talk of something absolutely crazy that will boggle a lot of you but that I tried despite a lot of negative opinions.

Take a cloudy overcast day, a reflecting water surface, a Nikon D810, a GOOD polarizing filter like a B+W Pol Circular Käsemann 77 mm and until now, nothing special.

Now try to imagine to mount a BIG STOPPER filter on that.

Something which density is close to ND3 like the B+W 77mm ND110E ND 3.0-1,000X SC (110) 77 mm.

What kind of result you will achieve?

Who said blurry? Or un-sharp, or dark, or full of fringes and chromatic aberrations? Anyway, who bets on something absolutely bad?


Ok, what I tell you is that the result I got is absolutely stunning!

Polarizing a Big Stopper
Polarizing a Big Stopper

Perfect contrasts, great details, extreme sharpness, exact colors, enough light with both the advantages of long exposition and polarized water? Everything in a 36 megapixel shot which can be printet as huge as a wall without loosing detail or particulars.

Polarizing detail 1
Polarizing detail 1
Polarizing detail 2
Polarizing detail 2


How I achieved this?

Ok, here’s the full recipe to polarizing a big stopper :

I’ve mounted the Nikon D810 on a sturdy tripod, like my Manfrotto 190CXPRO4, then I’ve screwed in the circular polarizing filter on a 16-35 f/4 Nikkor at 16mm and set the Camera to timed shot with at 2 second delay.

Now the first part of the trick: I’ve set the aperture to f/13 and a ISO to 100 to limit the light even more; then I framed and focused the scene using the autofocus system on a far point, (let say at the end of the lake).

Then, once I composed my shot and the focus, I adjusted the polarizing filter in order to make the water surface transparent. Now I’ve locked the focus sytem by pressing the AF-L button, and keeping it pressed I turned off the autofocus system (both on Body and Lens).

As final step I screwed in the Big Stopper filter on top of the polarizing (can hear some people horrify from here). Finally I’ve turned the exposure to 20″ and tried a shot: underexposed.

Hmm 25 seconds: underexposed again.

Then 30 seconds: OK that’s it!

Post production with Lightroom:

Raised a little the color parameters like vibrancy and Saturation Raised a little the fine contrast (clarity) to emphasize the clouds Raised a little the overall contrast


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