Long Exposures

By Sunday, August 18, 2013 grafphoto
Twilight on Lake Huron, near Lexington, MI

Twilight on Lake Huron, near Lexington, MI.  Exposure time 150 seconds.

Earlier this year I set some photography goals on aspects of photography I wanted to do more with, and one of them included long exposures.   I always loved how water takes on a glass like, silky appearance, that includes some reflections on occasion with this type of exposure.   Since I am in a region with relatively easy access to the Great Lakes, it should at least be easy finding the initial subject matter.

In the winter / early spring I did some using ice.   Last weekend I did some work up on Lake Huron.   One compositional aspect I have found works best for me is when I can place some larger static object in the frame that offers some contrast to the moving water.   Many of the public access spots to Lake Huron that are within an hour or so drive from me just happen to be groomed beaches.   Many of the big rocks  have been removed, probably to make them more “swimmer friendly.”   So I found myself in search of spots that have some larger rocks, which narrows the choices considerably!   In fact, of the entire morning searching, I ended up with only about 3 photographs I will keep.

This first shot was exposed for 2.5 minutes. I had a 10 stop ND filter and a polarizer on the lens.   As I quickly learned, you don’t have a lot of chances to play around with different compositions or exposures when the light is changing quickly during twilight.   Two minutes is awhile to be waiting for your next shot!   It helps to work systematically, because once the ND filter is on, you can’t see a thing through the lens to double check.   I set up the composition, set my focus point and aperture, adjust the polarizer as needed, and take some initial meter readings without the ND filter.  When you think you are ready, you put the ND filter on, the camera in BULB mode, and start your exposure.

Limestone at Lexington Harbor, Lake Huron

Limestone at Lexington Harbor, Lake Huron

I have become quite fond of my Vello Shutterboss remote.   With a timer built into the remote control, it is easy to step away from the camera as you have it setup and trip the shutter, watching the timer pass to accumulate the exposure time you want, then trip the shutter again to close.  They make them for both Nikon and Canon.

This second image was made well after the sun had come up and some slight wave activity was starting to form on Lake Huron.   Having the 10 stop ND filter on brought the exposure to 30 seconds.   Without the filter, it was around 1/40 of a second.   So you can see the dramatic change it makes, and possible to make longer exposures even in brighter conditions.  These foreground limestone rocks reminded me of photographing the coral rocks in Bonaire a couple years ago.

As the year progresses, I hope to have more opportunities exploring beyond the 30 second ‘barrier’ of my camera.

Note: If you were previously a subscriber to updates to my blog, you will have to resubscribe again.  I switched over to a different subscription plugin that is more part of the core of WordPress, instead of using a 3rd party plugin.   Just put your email in the subscribe to the blog section in the sidebar if you wish to receive updates via email.  Thanks!






Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Awesome Pic. Just beautiful and calm.

  • Sandra says:

    I’m very fond of long exposure seascapes – they make it special and create a fairytale like different mood.
    However, the colours are sometimes difficult to handle 😉

    Just out of interest: which plugin do you use now for the email subscription?

    Greetings from Switzerland,

    • Mark says:

      Hello to Switzerland! I agree Sandra, they do take on a fairytale like appearance.

      I am using the subscription feature of WordPress Jetpack. It seems to work well and integrates well with WP in general.

      • Sandra says:

        Thanks for the info, Mark. I will look into it as I don’t like the formatting of Feedburner very much 🙁
        Thank you very much for your recent nice comments on my blog! 🙂

  • Wonderful images Mark, I would love to have more time for long exposures but not much call for that 30 second exposure at a wedding lol !!

  • Mark,

    That first image just sings to me and reminds me of summer mornings on Lake Huron!

  • Love the first one and probably due to the color rather than composition. My longest exposures so far have probably been somewhere around the 20-30 second range. I have a friend who shoots with an 8×10 large format camera so long exposures are common for him. But, I do enjoy the effect of long exposures.

  • Earl says:

    I love the effects of long exposures and these are very good examples. However, as you said, it does take some personal discipline to do them and I’ve too often chosen not to do the work. Nicely done here and congratulations on following up on one of your photographic goals. I’ve tossed my own goals “out the window” this year as I’ve struggled to photograph much of anything.

    Thanks for the info…I need to renew my subscription as well.

  • You answered my question….I thought I had subscribed but did not get a notice and now I know why. New subscription done.

    I am also planning on doing more long exposures on my next visit to the ocean. Most of my water photography is done in the woods where NDs are unnecessary. It’s not hard to require 30 seconds or more in the early hours in the forest.

    I saw the first image on FB and really liked it and wondered if it would be on the blog. The nice warm glow on the metallic water is so pleasing. The solid foreground sets the distant softness off….solidly. 🙂 The B&W image is very dramatic.

    • Mark says:

      Thanks Steve. I enjoy working with them, but the wait time between exposures is a drag at times. It certainly does force you to slow down, which is a good thing I suppose.

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