Long Exposure Photography

Long Exposure Landscape Photography

One of my new year’s resolutions is to play around a little more with photography.  I had a day off yesterday, so I thought I’d do a couple of things I’ve always wanted to do, slow-motion water photography.  Believe it or not, I’ve never really done much in the way of landscape photography, let alone slow-motion.  I’ve always thought pictures of water, using long shutter speeds, were kinda cool.  The way the blurring of the water ends up looking “silky”, is a really neat effect.  I just never took the time to shoot any of those kinds of photos, so that’s what I did yesterday.

Not all that long ago, I spent some time shooting a movie up at McConnell’s Mill, forty miles north of Pittsburgh.  There’s a really cool little stream there and I thought it would be a good place to play with long exposures, so that’s where I went yesterday. The photos below were a few of the shots I came away with.  The day was mostly overcast, but not too cold for January.

So, photographically, what did I learn?

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Slow-motion photography is basically experimenting with different shutter speeds.  I found out that I got some cool stuff between 4 and 8 seconds.  I know, this is all pretty subjective.  What I think looks good probably isn’t what everyone else would think looks good. Art is subjective.

The big takeaway from this little trip was, I really had a good time!  This nature photography thing is nothing more than playing with composition.  It was a lot of fun and I think I’m going to be doing more of it.  I’ve never been one to take the camera everywhere they went, but I could see that changing. Now that I’m an “empty nester”, there’s really no excuse not to do more of these creative things, rather than sit at home watching tv.

Of course, besides composition, I can see where the lighting makes a difference in the end photo.  The thing I’m not used to about landscape photography is that I can’t control the lighting and I’m used to creating the lighting.  You just can’t do that with landscape photos.  While I found that I enjoy this type of shooting, I’m not really sure that I’ll be willing to get up before sunrise to be at a specific location for those sunrise shots.  I may have to specialize in sunset shots… :o)

What do you think of these?  Do you like the compositions?

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While walking from one possible location to another, the sun popped out for a brief minute.  I looked toward the water and saw these moss-covered rocks, and just couldn’t look away.  Nature is beautiful and I really need to spend more time emersed in it.  It was very pretty, so I broke out the camera and snapped off a few quick pics.

I also learned that, if I’m going to do more of this, I needed a few little items.  I know, I’m a gear head.  I can’t help myself.  I thought I’d take along my lightest tripod.  I have this old Gitzo tripod from the last century, but it’s a good one.  It’s a little broken, but it’s a quality tripod.  I picked it because it’s the lightest one I own.  The trouble is, the head I have on it really sucks.  So next time, I’ll either need to bring a better tripod, or I need to get another head for this one.

The next thing I learned is that I need to get better, more dense, ND filters.  For this photoshoot, I used what I had.  I combined a #9 ND filter and a polarizer filter. I think that knocked down the light about six or so stops.  I ended up shooting the long exposure shots at ISO 100, at 4-8 seconds, at f22. That worked out pretty well, but I was shooting in the shad.  On a brightly lit day, I’d need more ND.

Another thing I saw in some of the shots is a little vignetting around the edges of the frame.  I think that’s from stacking the two filters and the lenses weren’t made for that.

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Anyway, these were the photos I took yesterday, playing around with long exposures.  I’ll probably be doing this again, and when I do, I’ll post a couple of the photos here on my blog, so that you can check them out.  I’ll also be doing more of this personal-type of photography.  I had fun and I could definitely see myself doing more of it….

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