G’day all, I sometimes get a few questions about how my long exposures are taken so I thought that I would try and put up a thread here explaining the way to achieve these misty water and streaking cloud effects and some general hints and tips on what you will need and what to look for.
Nickmonk beat me to it and has already provided a good description of long speeds it in another post (here) but I thought I'd still post this one in the hints & tips so that there is a dedicated long thread.
Feel free to add any other advice and tips that I may have overlooked or ask any question if something is unclear (probably most of it ) I will put a few photos at the end showing different effects and the settings I used, if other people also want to add photos showing long effects and the settings used then your more than welcome. I don't know about other people but I learn easier if I see things so if there are a group of photos showing what setting were used for what effects were achieved hopefully that will be helpful to some.
I cannot emphasise enough though the importance of just going out and experimenting and practicing with different settings and subjects, eventually you will get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and your preferences, but most of all just have fun and enjoy it.
- Good sturdy and a solid head (any will do but the sturdier the better)
- Remote switch/cable release (for bulb settings)
- Polarising Filter (particularly for stream/river photography)
- Graduated neutral density filters can be very useful, although I have only just got some so I can’t really comment on their use much yet, but they can make taking long exposures easier by balancing out a bright sky and dark foreground which is usually the case with long exposures.
- I always use manual mode but Av mode may be easier for some when starting out, in time you will get a feel for how , and inter-relate and then manual mode can become second nature and make it quick and easy to set up, letting you decide how each variable is set.
- is generally set to the lowest setting possible (i.e. 50 or 100) this is to a) reduce noise which becomes an issue with longer speeds and, b) it reduces the sensors sensitivity to , requiring more than higher ISOs i.e. a longer is then needed than with a higher .
- is usually set between f/11 and f/22 to give the greatest and give longer speeds (personally I usually have it set to between f/18 and f/22 to give myself as long a as possible).
- speeds are the most variable settings in long exposures and will vary considerable given different lighting conditions. Typical speeds may be from ½ second when the sun is setting to 2.5-3 minutes an hour after sunset.
- Mirror lockup – if your camera has this feature then it is a good idea to use it as it “mirror slap” which can in certain circumstances result in the camera vibrating or moving when the is opened up creating some softness in the photo.
- If you don’t have a remote switch or cable release then don’t be discouraged you may still be able to take long exposures (I think most DSLRs will allow up to 30 seconds, not sure about P&Ss) then it is just a matter of switching the drive mode to the timer mode (well for anyway if your not sure consult your cameras manual which should be able to tell you how to set the timer).
- Some cameras have a long noise reduction feature built in however, I always make sure this is turned off as noise reduction is better done in post processing and gives you more control.
- I always shoot in mode as well as it gives you greater versatility during processing and more control in the finished product shuch as white balance, midtones, blacks, saturation etc.
Seascapes: I find that the most pleasing results come from finding a good foreground and having a large foreground element, but this is not always the case though depending on the conditions at the time and personal taste. Try to look for features where the water will swirl round, come up and over and drain off and create nice lines or misting such as big pebbles or channels in rocks where the water comes up and drains back out again, after a while and some experimenting with different compositions you will get a feel for what things will work and what wont and what you like and be able to visualise what the end product will look like. I find typical speeds for seascapes are usually between ½ second up to about 4mins at which point noise becomes too much of a problem.
Landscapes: For landscapes the main thing that a long will do is perhaps blur cloud movements, this can create powerful images if used in the right way, the effects will vary greatly depending on the , the type of clouds, their position, the speed and direction they are moving.
Streams/Rivers: The best time for stream and river photography is when it’s overcast and/or raining, I personally wouldn’t bother much unless it was overcast or raining as there will be more water running, the colours tend to be more saturated because all the plants, mosses, lichens and leaf litter are wet and you don’t tend to get blown highlights, but this is not to say you can’t do it in sunny situations, but a set of neutral density filters will be needed if you want to achieve that silky water effect without blowing the highlights.
An essential piece of equipment for this type of photography is a circular polarising filter, this a) means you can have a slightly longer as it makes it darker and b) you can cut out unwanted glare off wet rocks, the water surface and foliage, by cutting the glare off the water you may then be able to see the bottom or other underwater features depending on the depth, the clearness of the water and how much rough water is there.
Generally try to shoot upstream as this produces more pleasing results and try to find rocks/logs and sections of rough water that will lead the eye up the stream. Shooting downstream can also produce good results but is generally harder to get good results with pleasing compositions. Again visualisation is important so that you are able to predict the end product and this will only come through practice and experimentation.
Generally typical speeds for streams and rivers will not be much more than 30 seconds (unless using a few neutral density filters of course) so a cable release/remote switch are not as necessary but still a good idea if you have one.
a. 100 Av f/22 Tv 0.6 seconds. This one i wanted to capture the movment of the water and not have it all really misty
b. 100 Av f/22 Tv 100 seconds. Here I wanted to get a soft misty effect in amongst the rocks and it was much darker than a, this illustrates the difference between a shorter expsouser and a longer one in the effects you can get.
c. 100 Av 22 Tv 300.00 seconds. This one illustrates the effects of a long on cloud movments, in this case the clouds were coming straight towards me at a fairly slow speed as can be evidenced by the very clam water.
d. 100 Av 22 Tv 0.25 seconds (maybe not a long but still long enough to blur motin slightly). Here I wanted to show the power of the waves hitting this small headland on the wild South Coast so a much shorter was used to capture some of the movemet but not to entierly blur the motion like a longer would have.
e. 80 Av f/11 Tv 0.33 seconds. Here without GND filters the rising sun was too bright to get a really long and the clouds were not moving very much so minimal blur was encountered.
f. 100 Av f/22 Tv 301.00 seconds. This was quite dark and I wanted to be able to show the movement of the fog down the valley so a long was required, notice how the fog and clouds in the sky are very smooth.
g. 200 Av f/20 Tv 25.00 seconds. At this stage I didn't have a cable release so was limited to a 30 second maximum so i have to up the to 200 and lower the apeture to f/20 to achieve a well exposed image as it was very overcast, raining and late in the day so was quite dark.
h. 100 Av f/22 Tv 8.00 seconds. The stream ran fairly shallow in this part and there were lots of small pebbles on the bottom which I could see were producing small areas of turbulance that would turn out really white in a long , and the moss and lichne encrusted tree provided a nice frame on the left side with the fallen logs leading down to the water and downstream to dissappear around the corner.
i. 100 Av f/22 Tv 140.00 seconds. Here I had been bushwalking in Mt. Field National Park and was coming back past the falls as the sun was setting so was able to get a long once the sun had set.
j. 80 Av f/11 Tv 30.00 seconds. Again I didn't have a cable realease at this stage and my camera was limited to f/11 and a 30 second , notice that it wasn't very overcast with some sun making it through the thick rainforest canopy and blowing a couple of highlights detracting from the picture.
k. 80 Av f/11 Tv 5.00 seconds. This was simliar to j but in this case the blown highlights don't detract as much, notice that the bubbles and white water created by the small cascade in the background leaves nice trails in the water guiding the eyes up to the falls with the long .
Well I hope that makes some sense to somebody and if you got this far I congradulate you and award you with a medal