Ive always been fascinated by long exposure photography – its what originally drew me to seascape photography and I wanted to share a bit about how its done and why its one of my favourite methods.
I recently received a email asking how I take a long exposure photo, I explained that its down to the use of a neutral density filter which either screws onto your lens or slots into a filter system, these are usually made of glass or resin and can reduce the amount of light entering your camera; giving you the ability to expose for longer, this means that anything moving in the scene will become blurred, it works really well for seascapes as the ocean is constantly moving around any foreground rocks and it becomes a ghostly mist, also the clouds will be carried along with the wind and appear as blurred streaks.
The shot below was taken on a recent early morning outing to Howick, it was a stormy start to the day with lots of cloud, there were showers on the horizon so I wasnt expecting much in the way of stunning light, just wet gear and a soggy drive home, thankfully the showers parted and I got a nice golden glow as the sun rose, I chose to shoot this scene quickly (0.4 seconds) and capture the drama that was unfolding, the sea was very rough and was breaking over this rocky outcrop with some force.
After the above shot, I put on a filter know as a ‘big stopper’, this drastically cuts out the light entering the camera giving me the ability to capture a image for minutes, as you can see below, it looks tranquil in comparison to the above image, I like both images but I wanted to share with you the difference a long exposure, taken over 240 seconds can make to a scene.
Out of the two images, the long exposure is my overall favourite, I’m drawn to shooting long exposures because I love the effect of stretching out a image over time and creating something new that cant be seen by the human eye, long exposure of the sea are my favourite, theres no ripples, no distractions, it separates everything into simple shapes … I read a quote recently that put what I just said into words much better than I ever could!