Wednesday, 8 June 2011

[] 5 Tips For Long Exposure landscape photography

By Samuel Burns

1. Three's a charm. Yep, we all love a good third leg with it invaluable usefulness and charming demure. And now that we mention it a tripod is just such a three legged beauty. Strong, independent, stable and always willing to lend you a hand, those are the traits of a great tripod, how do you go about finding such a model? Don't rush out and buy the cheapest you can afford, I like to use tripods from Manfrotto or Gitzo and would suggest reading reviews and paying attention to supported weights before throwing your camera on any old thing. A poor quality tripod will not work in keeping your camera stable. Period.

2. Shoot with a low ISO. Contrary to what may first make sense when shooting in low light with a tripod don't jack up the ISO, simply use a longer shutter speed. By increasing the ISO you will increase noise, this particularly becomes an issue in long exposure photos so set your ISO nice and low.

3. The density, it is neutral. Ever heard of a neutral density filter? Available in a myriad of strengths and rated by how much light they cut. Essentially ND filters decrease the amount of light hitting your sensor whilst imparting no other changes in color temperature or visual quality. In practise they often change the color temperature slightly however it is nothing that can't be fixed with white balance. Now lets assume we are photographing a waterfall and we wish to render the water as a soft mist. First you would select a low ISO and a small aperture in order to obtain the slowest shutter speed possible, yet the shutter speed may still be faster than you wish. Just pop on an ND filter to slow things down even more and do a little dance. Just because.

4. Film is great for long exposure photography as it doesn't build the noise that digital sensors do, if shooting film however you must be aware of a trait known as reciprocity failure. Essentially it is a phenomenon whereby films sensitivity to light changes with exposure time. The easiest option for dealing with this is to find a "reciprocity chart" for the specific film you are using and refer to this when calculating exposure times.

5. Guiding light. No I'm not referring to a golden light emanating from the sky and leading you towards the path of forgiveness, that's called acid and was big in the 70's. What I am referring to is a cheap, battery operated torch. Trust me when I say it is an essential piece of kit. As you start shooting long exposure photos you will start finding yourself in situations of fading light, a torch is a great asset to help you change camera settings and find your way out of locations in the dark.

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