Have you ever been on a vacation and visited the perfect photography location, but at the worst time? I always seem to find myself at an amazing river or rocky coastline in the middle of the day with the sun beaming down. This presents a challenge since I like to shoot at slow shutter speeds to get that soft, silky look to moving water. I can shoot at my smallest aperture and lowest ISO, and even put on my polarizer to knock out another stop of light. But I still can’t get shutter speeds much slower than one second, and I want to shoot at 10 seconds or longer. Enter the Singh-Ray Mor-Slo filter.
The Mor-Slo filter is a screw-on 10-stop neutral density filter. If you are wondering how dark minus ten stops is, think pitch black. This filter effectively turns day into night, allowing shutter speeds of 30 seconds in the middle of the day. The effects you get using this filter are stunning. Crashing surf transforms into misty white steam, and whitewater appears smooth and fluid.
I was recently near Rocky Mountain National Park shooting landscapes, and found a great stream to photograph. Since it was midday, there was too much light to shoot slow shutter speeds, so out came the Mor-Slo filter. There are a few tricks to using this filter. First, you need to figure out focus and composition before you put the filter on your lens. You won’t see a thing when the filter is attached. Once I had my focus set, I turned off my autofocus so the camera wouldn’t be searching with the filter attached. Next, I used manual mode to set my exposure. I found I needed a little longer exposure than my camera’s meter indicated. Using the Mor-Slo filter shooting at 10 seconds turned an average scene into a nice icy winter landscape. The gentle silky water matched perfectly with the moody winter scene.
The Mor-Slo filter comes in thin and normal ring mounts in 77mm and 82mm sizes. I used the thin mount version, and had no vignetting in my shots. This filter isn’t just for moving water. Use the filter anytime you want really long shutter speeds in bright light. The 77mm standard mount Mor-Slo costs $350 at Singh-Ray Filters (www.singh-ray.com).