On Saturday November 5, five members of the BCA Photography Group (Bill Davison, John Harris, Katharine Langenberg, Paul Newcomb and Edmund Prescottano) joined Thibault Roland for a day of shooting long exposures. This was a follow-up to his inspiring presentation on Long Exposure Architectural Black & White Fine Art at our group’s September 27 Technical Series meeting.
Our itinerary included a beach scene in Beverly MA and a lighthouse at Winter Park in Salem. Thibault provided very detailed and helpful instruction in taking images from 30 seconds to over 5 minutes. Our day ended with him demonstrating his post processing techniques.
What do you need to do this kind of photography? Aside from some standard items such as tripod, cable release, and a camera with bulb mode capability (all essential), you will need neutral density (ND) filters from 3 stops to 10 stops. It helps to have a selection (for example, 3, 6, and 10 stop ND filters). You can stack the filters as needed to adjust the exposure time for desired effects.
The procedure in taking an image is to first take a well-exposed image, composed and focused without any filters. With that data you then calculate what exposure time is needed to produce a similarly exposed image with whatever combination of ND filters you are using. Carefully put on the filter(s) without moving the camera and then take the image on bulb mode with the calculated long exposure time. Thibault provided us with conversion tables, but there are phone apps available (see the links at the bottom of this post).
A major factor to consider when selecting a shutter speed is the speed of objects moving through your scene. Very slow moving clouds would require you to choose a higher density filter, and therefore a longer exposure time, while fast moving clouds would do well with a lower density ND filter.
There is some investment required - the filters cost approximately $150 each so a set of three would be around $450 and filter holders with adapter rings can easily run another $100. But really not that much in relation to other camera gear, and with these tools and some practice time you can achieve some really stunning results.
A comment from one of the participants:
“I really enjoyed the Long Exposure photo workshop with Thibault. I thought he was very well organized, presented materials clearly, chose very good locations and was fun to be with. It was a great time. I recommend this workshop and would enjoy doing another.”
Contributed by Edmund Prescottano
Images by Edmund Prescottano
Images by Katharine Langenberg
Images by Paul Newcomb, including one 'ordinary' shot of the scene
Images by John Harris