Long Exposures

By Sunday, August 18, 2013grafphoto
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.

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