It’s Time To Get Out There And Shoot
So you’re good to go. You have your camera, you have your additional accessories and you kind of know what to do, right?
To be honest, if you have been taking landscape photos for a little while, you should be fine. Long Exposure Photography, when it comes to capturing landscapes really is no different. You still have to consider all of the same this that you would have to consider if you weren’t trying to capture a long exposure.
You still need to focus on creating a good composition and good subject matter is also still very important. The only difference is that you are now trying to add another interesting element to the shot. You will be trying to blur, to a certain extent, anything that is moving in the shot. This could be a waterfall, the ocean, the clouds or all of the above in the same shot.
Keeping Your Shot In Focus
When setting you’re shot up, you need to be mindful that even though some of the element of the photo will have some motion blur, the rest of the scene should be in focus and sharp. If for example, you are using a 10 Stop filter, it will be quite difficult to find focus. I would suggest getting your camera in focus before you put your filter on. Once you have found focus, you can re-adjust your exposure. Once your camera is focused, always make sure that you switch from autofocus back to manual focus before you take your shot. If you don’t you’ll find that due to the very dark filter infant of your lens, the camera will find it very difficult to focus and you will end up with a blurry out of focus image.
At this point, you are ready to shoot and it’s time to capture the beautiful scene before you but there’s a couple of things we just need to check.
Make sure your camera is set to M – manual mode. This will make sure that all of your settings stay the same. My rule of thumb would be f/11 and ISO 100 and the shutter speed will be determined by which ND filter you decide to use.
If the calculations for your shutter speed exceeds 30 seconds, you’ll need to set your shutter speed to ‘Bulb’. This will allow you to hold the shutter open for as you need in order to get the correct exposure. This is where your remote shutter release will come in. Once you press the shutter button on the remote release, usually there is a feature that lets you lock down the shutter button.
In order to calculate the shutter speed for your first long exposure, you can use two different techniques. The old fashion way, which is what I use or you can use technology in the form of a phone app.
I always show workshop participants the ‘old fashion’ way but you can use a very clever app that Lee Filters have produced called ‘Lee Stopper’ and is available in the iTunes app store. This app will automatically calculate the correct shutter speed depending on which filter you are using. The options are 6 Stop, 10 Stop and 15 Stop. This app is free to download and I highly recommend it.
The ‘old fashion’ way is really quite simple but can be a little confusion for beginners but I still believe that you should get your head around as it helps you to get a better understand of exposure and how it works.
Ok, so a 10 Stop filter really holds back 10 Stops of light hitting your camera’s sensor so essentially if your shutter speed is at 1/100 of a second before you put the 10 Stop ND filter on you need to move your shutter dial by 10 stops which would equate to 30 clicks as you turn the shutter dial on the camera. So 1/100 of a second would become 10 seconds. If you were at 1/50 of a second, it would become 20 seconds.