How to Block Ambient Light using an ND Filter in Studio
So, what’s an ND – Neutral Density – Filter? How will it help block ambient light?
It’s basically a dark filter you can place on your lens, kind of like sun-glasses, to block out extra light.
Many photographers will use it outdoors on a sunny day to allow for using a slow shutter speed.
In those situations, you’d choose one that blocks many stops of light.
Personally, I use it for my home studio.
I have horrid overhead lighting which I don’t always want to turn off. I don’t feel comfortable with the low light type scenario with clients.
Since the ambient light interferes with my studio light – I needed a way to cut it out & overpower it with my strobes.
The problem I ran into was that I needed to close my aperture down more than I like, resulting in too much of my images in focus.
I wanted to be able to shoot in the f/2.0 – f/4.0 range with my strobe.
The solution: A 3 stop ND filter!!
(personally, I use this one)
When buying an ND filter, make sure you purchase one that will fit on the lens you will be using it on.
How I work it:
I set everything up, with my overhead light on and my strobe powered off.
Then I take a test shot with the ND filter on my lens using the setting I would ideally like to use.
If the shot is black, then mission accomplished! That means I have successfully blocked the ambient / overhead light.
At that point, I power on my strobe & raise the power until I get a proper exposure.
One thing to look out for is that I have found at times, the color of the ambient light mixes in with my shot. I recently switched from an AB400 to the Einstein & have not found that to be as much of an issue when using the color mode.
Let me know if you have any questions!