How to Use ND Filters with Studio Strobes

Neutral density filters are most often used in bright, sunny outdoor locations to serve as a way to block out excessive lighting. Photography guru Mark Wallace points out in a video introduction to the filters that they can serve purpose in the studio as well:

If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot move your lights further from your subject, but they are still too bright, Wallace suggests leaving your strobes how they are and decreasing the light entering your lens via a neutral density filter. It seems kind of obvious once Wallace explains how to use a strobe indoors, but it’s still a tool that isn’t called upon too often when shooting indoors with strobes.

If you watched all the way through, then you also caught the brief tutorial on using ND filters outdoors in combination with strobes to get perfect lighting as you can see in the image below.

how to use nd filters

Captured using an ND Filter with Strobes Outdoors

To get the effect, Wallace used a single strobe set at f/64 to overpower the sunlight and eliminate the resulting shadow. He put on a Hoya NDX 400, which eliminates a whopping nine stops, and a lens hood which allowed him to shoot at f/2.8 — a full nine stops down from the strobes’ f/64.

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