sorry for stupid question but if i put a 10stop nd filter and a CPL i cant see anything what do you do to find out how much to turn the CPL for example to remove reflections in water?
You need to do is rotate your CPL until you achieve the desired result, then put your 10 stop ND filter in. A 10 stop ND filter is always last to go in after you have set up your composition and adjusted any needed filters as you can't see anything after it is in front of your lens.
That's correct. My approach (noting I've only used mine about 5 times) is below, and any comments/feedback would be welcomed:
1) I scout the shot handheld and then set up. Tripod, cable release, Lee ring & holder, etc.
2) Switch to M, Av, Tv mode -- whatever you prefer. ISO 100*. Always shoot RAW with the Big Stopper -- many have a color shift that you need to back out in post, and RAW gives you a greater ability to do that. For a host of reasons, I switch to manual focus before doing anything. (Forgetting to do this later can burn you when the Big Stopper is in place.) I never remember to do this, but this is where I should cover the optical viewfinder for the odd risk of light leak.
3) In LiveView, I frame up everything the way I want it. Everything but the Big Stopper should be in place (CPL, ND Grad perhaps, etc.) and rotated / located the way I want it. I won't get into composition as I'm a rookie on that front, but on the technical side of things, I usually opt to manually focus at 10x zoom 1/3 of the way into the frame as many landscapers recommend.
4) If LiveView is showing me what I want to see in the shot (minus the long exposure the Big Stopper will give me), I write down or remember my aperture and ISO settings.
5) I put my Big Stopper in. My new shutter speed will be whatever I had before times 2^10 = 1024. (Note this is a rough number and that your specific Big Stopper may vary a bit -- you'll learn this as you shoot with it.) You can do the math yourself, read the card that came with your Big Stopper, or just get an ND filter app for your phone.
6) I usually just switch to Bulb mode, but you technically don't have to if the computed time is under 30 seconds -- you can use M mode then. I input the ISO and aperture from LiveView, and I take the shot with a cable release (in the locked position) and a timer on my phone. I haven't invested in an cable release with a built-in timer, but that is an option as well.
*I'd imagine that you don't always want 1,024x slowdown and buttery blending. But if you don't have standalone ND filters that are less strong than the Big Stopper, could you cheat and push ISO up to speed up the shot in Step 4, and by extension, take a much shorter final exposure, right? I know jacking up ISO is heresy for a landscape shooter, but it is possible, right?
Feedback appreciated if there is an easier/better way to use the Big Stopper, thanks!
I am by no means an expert. I have used other NDs more than the Big Stopper, but the principles are pretty much the same. I concur with you and have only a few additional thoughts.
I use M mode almost all the time (except, for example, from a moving train), because that is what I am getting used to (makes much more sense to me than exposure compensation, for example). I suppose Av would also work, but that seems to me to be an extra step, once the aperture is set in M anyway. Concur on RAW (if using LR, I don't see the need to shoot anything else). I use back button focus. Then, if I remember not to push the back button after focusing, however I have focused (that is, using either camera mode or tweaking with the focus ring in Live View), I am set with focus and don't need to switch back and forth to manual focus.
I do use 100 ISO unless I am using other NDs than the Big Stopper, for example 2 stops plus 3 stops, and need another stop slower. Then I use 50 ISO. I haven't thought of or tried your idea of pushing ISO and adjusting exposure time.
I tend to use an app to check depth of field because my eyesight isn't great. I do use live view and 10X magnification when possible (i.e., when there isn't a glare problem I can't overcome).
I don't follow you on the shutter speed being 1024 times whatever the camera said without the Big Stopper (at set ISO and aperture). I find either the Big Stopper card or a phone app. will give the answer.
I'm not sure what you mean by inputting the ISO and aperture. Aren't those already in the camera? Don't you just adjust the shutter speed by the 10 stops (or so, depending on your Big Stopper)?
I've been just counting out the seconds when I need to go to bulb, but the EXIF data generally tells me I got it wrong (I didn't give it as much time as I thought I did), so I like your idea of using the cell phone timer. Or investing in a cable release with timer (so many gadgets, so little money).