River Exposure

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So it appears I am really bad at this blog thing as I haven’t kept my goal of one post per week. All I can say is life gets busy and sometimes things fall to the side. I have been wanting to write this post for a while now as it was one of my first shoots where I actually did my research, took notes and applied it to the best of my current ability. I am certainly no expert and my point of view on photography will likely best serve other beginers to encourage them to get out and experiment or to see exactly what not to do!

Long exposure photography has long enticed me like many photogs. This was my first attempt after getting what I could for neutral density (ND) filters from my local shop. I was hoping to be able to get a 10 stop filter to maximize or lengthen my shutter speed, but instead I was only able to get my hands on a 2 and 3 stop filter which I figured with my circular polarizer would give me approximately 6 stops with all three stacked. I had been scoping out a few places in my city where a long exposure would work well but really wanted to ensure there was white water in it. Fortunately I have a fairly large river flowing near by so I had a few places to pick from.

Because I was limited to 6 stops I planned my shoot for early morning when the light was low and would give me extra time to leave the shutter open. Being a place I was fairly familiar with, I had a fair idea already of how I wanted to compose the image. The area had lots of potential for movement with several wide white water sections of river and a train bridge that I only hoped to be able to have a moving train at the same time. After setting up my tripod in the dark and attaching my camera I waited for some daylight to start. Using live view I framed my shot and used the zoom to look at the detail on the buildings to get everything tack sharp. Once the sun started giving me some workable light I placed the camera in auto mode to see what it reccomended for shutter speed. I then attached my two ND filters and polarizer to the lense. I decided to use the 18-55mm kit lense that came with my Nikon D5300 due to the small aperature ability that would help block light and let me slow down the shutter. With so many filters I was concerned with vignetting and sure enough I was right. I did manage to find a focal length that minimized this but is exactly why I wanted the 10 stop filter to remove this from the equation. Using an app I found for my phone that uses the reccomended shutter speed in auto mode and the number of filter stops used, I calculated (actually thd phone calculated) the shutter speed that would give me a properly exposed image with hopefully the right amount of motion blur.

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Of course I was lucky enough to get a train going by but the light was not quite where I wanted it for the shot. But for one of my first long exposure shots I felt it turned out ok. The above image is a crop with no other editing to the file.

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F22 Shutter 2.5″ Focal Length 55mm ISO 100

After another hour or so I was finally able to get some nice light to work with and capture the image I had planned, to bad another train didnt go by!

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Changing camera angles I took this photo which I entered in my first weekly photo challenge on WordPress. It may be a little overdone in photoshop and some pro’s may scold me for that, but I figure I have to start somewhere and learn a workflow for the style of photos I want to take.

Overall my first attemp at long exposures were fun and seeing the results on the live view screen kept me experimenting to see just what I was able to do. Hopefully it wont be quite as long before my next entry. Thanks for reading!

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