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Shark Fin Rock, Davenport, CA

A long exposure coastal image near Santa Cruz, CA

Shark Fin Rock Long Exposure

Another image for my long exposure coastal series. Since I’ve started playing with long exposures and neutral density filters, I’ve naturally been heading out to the coast more and more (the water takes on an amazing ethereal feel when exposed for 2-3 minutes instead of the usual 1/125 second). I expect to be shooting many more images like this in the coming months.

Thanks to Greg for finding this spot and for getting pounded by waves with me while we waited for the right light! No joke… I walked back to my car totally soaked. There were a couple of big waves that came in and almost swept me and my gear away, but luckily everything survived.

The Bay Lights

long exposures of Leo Villareal’s art installation spanning San Francisco’s Bay Bridge

Eric Herrmann - The Bay Lights

Recently, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco (connecting San Francisco and Oakland) has been the home of a large art installation by artist Leo Villareal. The vertical cables on the bridge have been adorned with thousands of shiny LEDs. The lights are controlled by a computer are constantly changing, creating an endless combination of patterns and shapes. For more information on the installation, visit

I’ve been meaning to shoot this ever since they started testing the installation before they officially unveiled it on March 5, 2013. When I left work one day, it was particularly foggy — so foggy, I couldn’t even see across the first span to Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. I set up and started doing some long exposures before twilight. Before I knew it, the fog cleared and the Bay Lights started to come on. I had no choice but to stick around and continue shooting. As twilight started to fade and the LEDs began to turn on, the mix of colors and light was truly incredible.

Click here to purchase a print or canvas of this image.

Lee Filters: Resin vs Pro Glass

a quality comparison between resin and pro glass 4×4 filters

Lee Resin vs Pro Glass Title Image

I don”t normally do gear reviews or comparisons, but every once in a while the internet just doesn’t have what I’m looking for. That was the case when I started looking into the differences between LEE Filters’ Resin and Pro Glass ND filters. This time, I’ve decided to share what I found.

Lee makes two sets of solid ND filters: their standard resin NDs and their Pro Glass NDs. The Pro Glass filters are significantly more expensive, but are they worth it? When I looked online, I found lots of posts that said “resin is more difficult to break, but glass will have better image quality.” Ok, but how much better? There were very few examples actually comparing them side by side, so I decided to compare them side by side. Check out the results after the jump.

For most of the situations you’d use an ND for, a little color shift isn’t a big deal (video, long exposures, etc). A big color shift is no good, but a small color shift could easily be corrected in post, or might not even be noticeable in the first place. So what’s the problem? I’ve been working on some time-lapse projects recently and I’m doing some bulb-ramping (for those that have not heard of bulb ramping, it’s a way of shooting a day to night or day to dusk time-lapse while varying your exposure in tiny undetectable increments over a set period of time to avoid over or under exposing part of your sequence). For my bulb ramping, I am adjusting my shutter, my ISO, and adding or removing solid ND filters to achieve a smooth transition from day to night or night to day. When adding or removing ND filters during the course of a time-lapse sequence, any color shift of the ND filter would be a nightmare to correct in post and would look awful in the final video. Add to that the fact that in order to shoot at the aperture, shutter, and ISO values I wanted to shoot at, I would need to be stacking multiple 0.9 NDs (2-stops each) on top of each other and every tiny color shift of each filter starts to multiply disastrously.

I was able to get my hands on three 0.9 solid ND resin filters and three 0.9 solid ND Pro Glass filters. I couldn’t get all of them at the same time, so I tested the resins against a control image one day, and the pro glass against a control on another day. Each set has one control image with no filters, each filter by itself (with the exposure compensated 3 stops), two filters stacked (exposure compensated 6 stops) and three filters stacked (exposure compensated 9 stops). You can roll over each image below to compare it to the control image. I’ve also linked to two PSD files at the bottom of this post that you can download to compare all of the resin images or all of the pro glass images on layers. The PSD also has layers for all 2-filter stack combinations (filter 1 + filter 2, filter 1 + filter 3, filter 2 + filter 3) for comparison as well, but the post was just getting too long to include those comparisons here.

Keep in mind that there were some clouds in the sky this day, so some of the fluctuation in reflections on the windows are probably due to the changing clouds and not the filters.

Resin 0.9 Solid ND Tests (mouseover for comparison)

Pro Glass 0.9 Solid ND Tests (mouseover for comparison)

My conclusions:

Both the resin and pro glass filters have color shifts. I find the pro glass to be more accurate in terms of how much light they’re actually stopping, and I find them to have less of a color cast overall. For most purposes, using a single 0.9 resin filter would be fine. The color shift and accuracy with one (or even 2) 0.9 resin filters would be easily corrected (or not even noticed) if you were shooting a video clip or making a long exposure still image (any time you wouldn’t be comparing the image to a shot without the filters). For shooting a ramped time-lapse while adding and removing filters (going from 3 stacked 0.9 NDs to 2 stacked 0.9 NDs to 1 0.9 ND to no NDs), I would rather spend the extra money and go with the pro glass. With all 3 pro glass 0.9 NDs stacked on top of each other, there is still only a slight change compared to the control image — I can’t say that about the resin. The test with 3x 0.9 resin NDs is less contrasty, way more red in the shadows, and overall is much less color accurate than the pro glass.

Layered Comparison PSD Links:

LEE Resin Comparison PSD

LEE Pro Glass Comparison PSD