Long exposure images are fascinating: They have an other worldly appearance and serene feel. In my view this type of photographs move from faithful reproductions of reality to surreal, artistic images. When the camera shutter is left open for minutes, the movement of clouds and water is smoothed out and this creates a wonderfully soft effect. So when Photographer Leanne Cole spent a couple of weekends with us at Jan Juc, keen to take some long exposure seascapes, I had to experiment under her guidance.
A play with Neutral Density Filters
Having recently spent a small fortune on Neutral Density filters, I wanted to learn how to use these and in particular come to grips with the Lee Big Stopper. This is a solid ND filter providing a 10-stop reduction in exposure. It allows you to photograph with a slower shutter speed than normally required. By slowing your exposure time and/or dialling your aperture to F22, you are able to use maximum depth of field and more importantly convey movement in clouds and water. As with any new toy, there is a fair amount of experimentation involved with camera settings and exposure duration.
There are a few things to remember too, such as switching to manual focus, turning your Vibration Control (VC) or Image Stabilisation (IS) off, covering your view finder so stray light does not spoil your shot… I found that with a long exposure, the camera senses the most imperceptible movement and you can get more blurred shots than you care for: people walking on a deck where you have set yourself up with your tripod, windy conditions with your backpack hanging from your tripod, forgetting to switch off the VC on your lens, getting a salty coating on your filter from the conditions… So there were a few disappointing attempts and many traps for the unweary! But I managed to get a few images I am pleased with, and this is just the start of the experiments.
Early morning tripod practice!
Over our two weekends in Jan Juc, I also played with slow shutter speed images in the early morning light along the beach, something I very rarely do. Although we see beautiful sunrises at sea on our catamaran, using a tripod on a boat is useless so I don’t take slow shutter speed photos very often. This exercise has motivated me to get out of bed early on weekends when we are not sailing, or else dinghy ashore with my camera gear while it’s still dark to set myself up on terra firma!
Taking photos with a friend is great. Taking photos with a pro like Leanne is a special treat. Here are a few seascapes, all taken at Jan Juc on the Victorian West Coast. As always, click on the first image to display the gallery in full screen slide show.