Did you ever try Long Exposure (LE) photography? If not, experiment, it is time to do it! LE provides you with a whole new dimension of photography. Everything moving, such as clouds, water, tree branches become wonderfully fuzzy and silky smooth. You will record something nobody can see by naked eye! It is like a miniature time capsule. Fascinating! It adds mood and atmosphere to your photography. By definition the exposure must be minimum 30 seconds. The only way to do it to have a neutral density filter.
Now let’s see how does it work?
30 sec, f/16, ISO 100, 16mm. B+W ND110 77mm (10 stop neutral density) filter
Notice the fuzzy and smooth clouds and tree branches.
Now the same shot without 10 stop neutral density filter.
1/45 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm
See the difference? Let’s do another comparison.
120 sec, f/22, ISO 1oo, 16mm, B+W ND110
See how nice silky smooth is the creek.
Now check out the same shot without the filter.
1/25 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm
Finally, here is my favorite LE comparison so far.
30 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm, B+W ND110
See the beautiful and expressive silky smooth clouds and creek. Nice, isn’t it?
The next shot is done with no filter.
1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100, 16mm
Not bad however this shot is missing that extra mystic and magic quality.
Next, what do you need for LE photography?
2. Wide angle lens, minimum 24 mm or wider IMHO.
3. 10 and/or 6 stop filters. Various screw on or filter holder system brands available, eg. B+W, Lee, Hitech, Hoya, etc. You may stack a 10 stop and a 6 stop filter. More than two filters may deteriorate picture quality.
4. Landscape with moving elements, eg. clouds, water, grass, tree branches. The best possible location is probably the seashore. Unfortunately I am pretty far from it… 😦
5. Golden hour, dawn, dusk. You can’t do it at noon so get up really early! Windy weather after a storm is a plus.
6. Small aperture, eg. f/16-f/22 and minimum 30 seconds exposure up to minutes.
7. Make your composition off filter. You won’t see anything when the filter is on!
8. Calculations. First, check exposure time without filter, then adjust exposure 10 or whatever stop plus after switching to manual mode. Always use the same aperture! Apply filter.
9. Use self timer mode or cable/electronic exposure release. Don’t touch the camera during exposure!
10. Experiment! Add extra 1-2 stop. Trial and error.
11. At home use software to tweak your best shots. Perhaps convert it to black and white.
That’s it folks.
First it may look complicated but with time it will become your second nature.
See more info below on #72 Variations on a subject
Finally, some great sites for further reading:
Don’t hesitate, let me know your personal experience!