I’ve had many emails and messages on the site and on Facebook from people asking how I created this image so I thought I’d write a quick blog post describing the equipment needed and my approach to how I do it.
So lets start with the equipment I used to take this long exposure:
- Fuji X-T1 Camera (Any camera/DSLR with “Bulb” Mode function will work)
- 14mm Lens (21mm FF equivalent)
- Gitzo Tripod (Tripod must be sturdy and be able to withstand moderate winds/vibration)
- Remote camera release cable (You could also use a 2 second shutter delay if your camera has option to do so)
- Formatt – Hitech Pro IRND 10 stop filter (Other 10 stop filters will do)
- 3 stop Graduated Filter
The above is what I used on the day to create the image but as I have put in brackets other options are available and will give you the same result. So lets move onto the technique I use when creating all of my long exposure images.
Firstly I set up my camera on the tripod and plug in my remote shutter release cable and then attach my Lee filter holder, I use the slot in type filters instead of the screw on filter type mainly because I have a lot of lenses and this saves on having different filters matching the threads of the individual lenses. I compose my image as if I were taking a normal image and once happy with the framing I generally focus a third into the frame at f11 and make sure it’s nice and sharp. I then expose as normal. I need to add that this is all done in full manual mode and I use both live preview and the view finder to check everything is correct. If I’m shooting towards the general direction of the sun or there are very bright parts in the sky this is where I then introduce a 3 stop hard or soft graduated filter to help calm down the brightest parts of the sky. Once that is in place I then slide in my 10 stop filter. At this stage you will not see anything in live preview or through the viewfinder as the 10 stop filter blocks out all the light. I then switch the camera to Bulb mode and on both my cameras the image/composition does then become visible to a degree but it may or may not on other makes of camera.
Now this is where a lot of people like to make it all sound very technical when it comes to exposure times but it is very simple and you don’t need to panic. There are App’s available on both IOS and Android to help you determine the exposure length but personally I like to do it by trial and error as each length of exposure can create different results. As a general rule of thumb the less light available the longer the exposure so for example you’ll need more time around early morning/sunrise than you would in say the middle of the day. This image was just as the sun had dipped behind the buildings but still reasonably bright. Like I said I prefer trial and error so my first exposure I did was for 30 seconds. It produced a reasonable effort but on checking my Histogram the reading was more central and I prefer my histogram to be almost touching the right hand side of the scale, this gives me as much fine detail into the image as possible. So the next attempt I let it go for approx 1 minute, 58 seconds to be precise and I was happy with the result this time.
Long Exposure photography is a great thing to try and play with. You can create some fantastic images and it doesn’t have to be used purely for images with water in. You can use it to blur any type of movement from people to traffic and you will not always need a 10 stop filter. Depending on the light level and exposure time you may not need a filter or you may need something between 3-10 stops. Get yourself out there and just experiment with it, there is no right or wrong way to approach it, just have fun and create!