How to Shoot a Timelapse in Direct Sunlight with an ND Filter

Few people dislike a bright day filled with sunshine. However, many photographers eventually come to the realization that their cameras’ preferences don’t necessarily align with their own. A “perfect” day presents problems like glare, making it rather difficult to shoot at slow shutter speeds or shallow apertures without overexposing all of the details in an image. So, how does a person get around these issues to create the flowing, fluid effects necessary for timelapses? Photographer Jay P Morgan has the answer:

The trick to shooting in an environment with abundant light? Invest in some neutral density (ND) filters. An ND filter is to a camera what a pair of sunglasses is to the eyes. Without affecting camera settings, an ND filter applied to a lens can instantaneously drop the exposure of the surroundings down by several stops and make conditions much more manageable. In this particular case, Morgan uses Syrp Super Dark ND filters stacked on top of one another to bring the exposure down by more than ten stops.

Syrp Neutral Density Filters

Since the sunlight is crushed, it suddenly becomes possible to make the two second exposures that obscure moving objects and make water appear silky. Equipped to a tripod is the Syrp Genie Mini with dual axis control, ensuring that shaky hands won’t disrupt the timelapse and the pan will be absolutely perfect.

Fancy equipment aside, some good old fashioned common sense will carry any photographer a long way. A tool as simple as a loupe can make a significant difference on location, allowing users to check exposure and preview images without interference from the sun. Shooting with the sun to your back (and fully illuminating subjects) will prevent annoying flare ups or blown out skies.

Pacific Ocean time lapse

“You want that dreamy look that long exposures give you for people or cars or water, you’ve got to have an ND filter that’s going to be able to handle the sunlight.”

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