Sometimes lighting means analyze the light that is present and use it to your advantage. All my previous “Tuesday’s Tips” have been about lighting with strobes, or mixing strobes with available light and adding light modifiers. This week’s blog is about how to get the most out of available light through long exposures and timing your exposure, both in length of exposure and when you make the exposure. The long exposure photographs in this blog are from my recent trip to London and Paris. I was in London to teach lighting at the Societies Photographic Convention.
When doing long exposure you need a tripod (I use an Induro) and a cable release. A neutral density filter is great when you need to make your exposure longer. Make sure you close the view finder to prevent stray light from damaging your exposure and using the mirror lock up helps prevent camera shake.
This image of Tower Bridge in London was shot during blue hour. My exposure was 30 seconds at f20, ISO100. The long exposure gives you the streaks from car lights. The key to getting light streaks higher in the frame is to wait until a bus or truck enters your frame.
In this photograph of Piccadilly Circus in London, my exposure was much shorter than in the above photograph. The exposure on this photograph was 5 seconds, f20, ISO 100. When shooting this photograph, all the traffic would be stopped and then light would change and all the busses would go at once. That’s when to start shooting.
This photograph is also of Piccadilly Circus. In this photograph my base exposure was determined using my camera meter and reading off the buildings. It was important not to blow out the buildings and still get effects of the lights moving through the image. I dropped my ISO to 50, shutter at13 seconds at f22. This image was shot with a Nikon D-800 and a Nikon 16mm fisheye
In order to get the effects of the lots of traffic streaming around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, I used a very long shutter speed and a 9 stop ND filter. I start my exposure by using the camera meter, set on spot to read the light off the highlights in Arc de Triomphe. That gives me my starting point for exposure. To calculate my long exposure, I take my base exposure & the number of stops on my ND filter and plug the information into the ND Timer app. If I want a longer exposure, I would use a denser ND filter. The exposure on this image was 186 seconds at f22 ISO 50. The photo was shot on a Nikon D-800 with a 17-35mm Nikon lens at 30mm using my Induro tripod and a cable release.
These 2 photographs of the windmill at Moulin Rouge where captured with in a few minutes of each other. In the top photograph the shutter speed was 3 seconds in the bottom photograph the shutter speed was 8 seconds. The 5 seconds difference in the shutter gives yo a very different effect in the windmill. Both imagers were shot at f20 on a Nikon D-800 with a 24- 70 f 2.8 Nikon lens.